Axel Dopfer, the king of BUCS – Getting back in the groove
King Charles maybe taking the headlines, but university cycling also has a new King… Axel got his season off to a flying start winning every BUCS event he’s finished in 2023:
Team pursuit – 4:08🥇
Individual pursuit –4:22🥇
25-mile TT – 51:00🥇
10-mile TT – 19:17🥇
How did we get here?
First of all, I wouldn’t say these results haven’t come out of the blue, the potential has always been there. Axel is a phenomenal athlete with exceptional physiology, this presents an exciting foundation to work from as his cycling coach/sport scientist. I’ve also been working with Axel for 2 years which gives me an exceptional understanding of how he responds to training from both a physical and mental perspective. This combination has led to everything clicking into place this year.
What have we changed?
The training itself hasn’t changed too much, but the approach to it has… After a period of heavy training last year, Axel began to struggle to maintain motivation and enjoyment. This is an issue because as much as we like to be efficient with the training, there is no getting away from training volume being extremely important to performance; ultimately, if you are not enjoying the training, you are less likely to complete as much volume.
Luckily this was towards the end of the competitive season, so we planned a longer than usual off-season break for some rest and recuperation. We only got back to structured training when Axel was ready. We then had a chat about how to change up the training to maintain enjoyment and motivation.
Much of his training consists of low intensity volume, on these days we scraped any structure or intervals, it was just about riding the bike for however long he had available. However, there was power value to aim to stay above to ensure sufficient stimulus (>50% VO2max). The absence of structure allows him to switch off, not worry too much about power and enjoy being out on the bike. His focus could then be concentrated on the 2-3 days per week we would add specific intervals, enabling him to complete these to a higher quality. The intervals themselves were also adapted; the longer steady-state intervals are often very mentally taxing. Longer intervals were often broken up with micro-intervals or micro-breaks which aim to keep the physiological response the same as a steady-state interval but with lower perceptual effort.
Axel is focusing on TT’s this year and we are beginning to work towards some big late season TT goals such as the German U23 championship as well as some other projects, so keep an eye out as they approach.