Average Joe vs Tour of Flanders: Can Cillian Kelly conquer the cobbles of Belgium?
Cillian Kelly is back for his latest challenge, the Tour of Flanders, but can Wahoo SYSTM whip our stat man into shape for the cobbles of Belgium?
Online Production Editor
Back in 2022, we set GCN’s resident stat man Cillian Kelly a task: complete the L'Étape du Tour. An annual event which provides amateur cyclists with the opportunity to ride a stage of the Tour de France. It is seriously tough.
For Cillian, the challenge was a replica of stage 12 of that year’s race, featuring ascents of the Col du Galibier and Col de la Croix de Fer, before a grand finale on Alpe d’Huez, one of the most iconic climbs in cycling. All of that amounted to 4,700m of climbing across 167km of riding. From a position of virtually no fitness, Cillian completed the event in just over 12 hours, successfully going from zero to hero.
Could that spur on a flurry of cycling achievements that would be the envy of amateur cyclists the world around? Not quite. Cillian’s highs of being a L'Étape du Tour hero have plateaued and given way to the rigours of everyday life and work, where Cillian can be found topping up his encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling for his regular stat attacks (check those out here).
That's all changed over the winter, though, as Cillian has rediscovered his cycling rhythm. With good base fitness and motivation to boot, he decided it was time to take on his next challenge: the Tour of Flanders.
OK, the WorldTour race may be out of Cillian's grasp - maybe we’ll save that for a few years’ time - so he has enrolled on the 179km route of Tour of Flanders sportive instead.
It may not feature the same Alpine cols but the route tackles the toughest cobbled climbs that Belgium has to offer, many of which pack in double-digit gradients. Add in unpredictable Belgian weather and this is Cillian’s toughest assignment yet.
Of course, we couldn’t simply send our stat man over to Belgium and hope for the best; he needed a training plan to return to tip-top shape. For that, he decided to recruit the help of Wahoo and its online training platform, SYSTM.
Wahoo SYSTM is a comprehensive training platform that offers both bespoke and pre-designed plans which can be tailored to individual riders’ needs. Each of these plans is packed with high-quality workouts carefully designed by Wahoo to offer maximum benefits.
As an added bonus, the platform’s Four-Dimensional Power (4DP) test is one of the most comprehensive out there, giving a complete overview of a rider’s fitness and all of the information needed to fine-tune a training plan - the test is also seriously tough, as Cillian found out.
A top-level training platform also needs a turbo trainer and Wahoo was kind enough to step in here too, providing its new Wahoo Kickr Bike Shift. Only released in September, it uses a new brake and belt-drive system that allows for fast changes in resistance to better match gradient changes whilst virtual riding.
Would the help of Wahoo - plus some wise wisdom from Dan Lloyd - be enough to turn this cycling nerd into a cobblestone-conquering machine?
Watch the video at the top of this page to learn more about why Cillian has taken on the challenge, the Wahoo SYSTM training plan and how training has gone so far.
For more cycling challenges like this, head over to the ‘Challenge’ section on the GCN website, linked here.
Online Production Editor
Tom is our Online Production Editor who creates tech content for the GCN website
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