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  • Writer's pictureSarvesha Samaga

We are on the PODIUM!

When Mathew Hayman, Team Orica Scott rider for Tour de France 2017 and winner of 2016 Paris-Roubaix, revealed the results of Team ODZ FTP Challenge, for us at Team AG2R it was joy beyond boundaries and sweetness beyond belief!!

Yes, unbelievable, we are on the PODIUM!!

Well it all began around 16 weeks ago.

My town Mangalore, close to the foothills of Western Ghats in the southern part of India, receives quite heavy showers and remains wild wet throughout the monsoon season. Though we go out on weekend and multi-day tours during this time, I was wondering how about daily dose of rides sitting at home and on my indoor trainer!! Then came home, the new Kinetic Road Smart Control Trainer.

Initially I was riding alone, aimless, goal-less and direction-less, trying to understand how to set my bike on the trainer and ride. It took several weeks to get going with my trainer, but not before losing couple of tyres for various reasons. I was wondering was it another piece of flashy gym equipment gone waste, until I found Zwift.

While on Zwift, my boring trainer rides became entertaining. I could see my own avatar riding on the screen, sometimes up the mountains, sometimes passing through the volcano, sometimes on the pier, at times sprinting along the beach front and finishing under the banner.

While all these were fun, I was still missing something big, a guided workout that can let me know my level, keep me energised, lift me up by improving my skills & my fitness.

Then came the ‘Zwift Fitness FTP Challenge’ organised and presented by ‘Team ODZ’.

I signed up for this 8-week FTP challenge, with a hope that I would be considered good enough to take part in this event. The format of ODZ FTP challenge was simple, riders were tasked to complete prescribed workouts focused to increase riders FTP.

250+ riders registered for the event. After the initial screening, the selected riders, were then divided into 18 groups representing the titles of the UCI World Tour Teams under a team captain selected from the group.

After several days of anticipation, I was selected and my name appeared under Team AG2R with Tina Boine-Frankenheim as the captain and Michelle Murphy, David Richards, Peter Grogan, Nicole Ternel, Lorna Marlow, Michael Hayes, Andrew Thomson, Sharon Teran, Clare Snowdon, Albert Mc Broom from different part of the world as other team mates.

Our captain was quick enough to get hold of each of us. Within no time, our private FB Page and Strava Group under Team AG2R was up and running!!

The ODZ FTP Challenge started with the initial FTP test, wherein we were required to record our current level FTPs, before the start of weekly workouts.

This test was my first reality check. I ended up with a FTP number of 154 @ 70Kg!! My heart rate went through the roof and I gassed out at the end.

Determined to do well and not to let the team down, we all started deliberating on ‘the best way to get better’ and we ended up realising that training was the only way!! During these weekly sessions, updates by Team ODZ chief architect of this event, Jason Floors about FTP, Sweet Spot, VO2 max, intervals, nutrition & hydration etc. kept us on the hooks. After each workout, riders updated the group about their day’s ride. With cheers, tips and encouragement from team members, we started hitting the rhythm. 3 days, 3 workouts and an additional group ride on weekends!!

Few weeks into the FTPC, our Captain and another rider Sharon Teran had to withdraw from the challenge due to their personal commitments. Then came our mentor Pete Donohue, who introduced Anthony Portia as our new Team Captain. Pete & Anthony kept pushing us while keeping the motivation levels high for the rest of the weeks so that each of us complete the workouts as programmed. 

At the end of 8 weeks, Team AG2R had put up a commendable show with 227 workouts at an impressive 11.36% increase in the team average FTP.

Total statistics included 3,215 workouts, the riders on an average experienced a 0.2w/kg, or a 7.8% increase in their FTP.

Team Orica Scott lead by their team captain Mr. Matthew Stone was this year's winners of the Zwift Fitness FTP Challenge, with a 14.6% average increase in their team's FTP. With 11.36%, Team AG2R was placed second and with 9.8% Team Katusha-Alpecin was at third.

Well well well, my contribution to team AG2R after this gruelling ODZ FTP Challenge?? Lost weight by 2 kilos and my FTP shot up from 154 to 214!!

Team AG2R that was formed with so many unknowns, started with a mission to accomplish the goals and finally went on to secure the second position on the podium. Isn’t it a great team work, isn’t it the love, care, encouragement each of us giving to each other?

My sincere appreciation & thank you to the entire team of ODZwifters including Jason Floors, Pete Donohue for putting up such a wonderful event and ensuring that it implemented effectively. This ODZ FTP Challenge was more like a carnival for me! While enjoying the fizz, I came across so many different personalities, some leaders, some motivators, a lot of good friends and many competitors always want to excel!!

While I’m going to miss you all at team AG2R & ODZwifters, am I looking at another challenge??

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