UCI Gran Fondo Champion Maxim Pirard and Pro rider Oliver Naeson complete 365km ride
2019 Gran Fondo World Champion and Gran Fondo Casablanca winner Maxim Pirard and training partner Oliver Naesen of AG2R La Mondiale clocked up a marathon 365km 12 hours ride around Flanders
While riders in France, Spain and Italy stay indoors to help fight the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus, Belgium's Oliver Naesen of AG2R La Mondiale and his regular training partner UCI Champion Maxim Pirard put in a msssive 365km ride around Flanders.
With most teams telling their riders to back off from training, after all te Spring Classics being postponed or cancelled, Naesen wanted to go for one big ride.
"I actually really needed it. If you look at your mobile phone or watch TV, you only hear or see things about the coronavirus. That's not nice," he told Sporza.
"We cycled for 12 hours and paused for about 40 minutes. We have been at a bakery 3 times to eat donuts. The intensity was really low, we rode and chatted, we never accelerated after a bend."
Naesen and Pirard left home in Teralfene, just west of Brussels, at 5:30 am in the dark and finished at 6:00pm; with Strava data showing they completed a long loop of Flanders, following the regional border of East Flanders. The pair averaged 30.4km/h, with Naesen averaging 182 watts. Pirard was a stagiaire with Bahrain-Merida in 2018 and is the current world Gran Fondo champion.
“All energy comes from your body fat, you don't have to eat much. I wasn't hungry yesterday, even last night. During the training I ate 3 Berlin ball donuts and some gels. I consumed 8,000 calories, so the mirror test is still okay,” Naesen explained.
"Did I sleep well? Fantastic," Naesen told Sporza, "Like a stone. I even fell asleep in the couch last night. It was a blissful night."
"My legs definitely feel great. It makes no difference. This was not a crazy achievement. For a long time it was a relaxed ride to empty your head. I wouldn't recommend it to my parents, but colleagues can definitely try this out."
"Every day is like a Sunday now, you have to exercise with the them of having fun."
Naesen has emerged as one of Belgium's best Classics riders finishing second to Julian Alaphilippe at last year's Milan-San Remo, was third at Gent-Wevelgem and seventh at the Tour of Flanders.
"It is so strange. Normally this is the period of super focus, and now the fire has gone out. I'm in winter mode, I see myself fattening day after day. When I heard that the classics were canceled, I immediately decided: Okay, it's now time for some deep-frying.' But I'm 29. This is really not the time for that. I'm in my strongest years."