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Whether it's winning a race, competing in the overall standings of a stage race, or riding with the leaders for as long as possible, a professional cyclist's career is shaped by the goals he or she sets. It is in this quest that the rider draws his motivation and his physique to surpass himself every day. Enter the backstage of Benoît Cosnefroy's preparation in order to be ready on the "day".

What is a sports goal?


The sports objective is a quest that the athlete seeks to achieve several times in his career or even in his season. This objective varies according to the profile, the role and the capacities of this rider. After convincing results in one-day races(victory in the Bretagne Classic, victory in the Grand Prix de Québec, 2nd in the Flèche Wallonne, 2nd in the Amstel, 2nd in the Flèche Brabançonne), Benoît Cosnefroy trains and prepares himself with the aim of winning a beautiful classic, "Flandrienne" or "Ardennaise".

What are the stages of preparation?


When you prepare a sporting goal with an athlete, you have to go through a number of steps to make sure that the goal is appropriate and that it will be achievable in the future. This is the job of Nicolas Guillé, Benoît's coach and sports director for the AG2R CITROËN team.

Validate the race program and target goals:

During the goal-setting phase, coaches and athletic directors sit down with rider to specifically define their athletic goals. It is important to understand what the athlete wants to achieve in order to establish the best plan of attack.

Prepare the training program:

The training programs start with two blocks: the training courses at the beginning of the season and then the riders will have a monthly program according to their objectives.

Individualize and support rider :

Each rider is monitored and accompanied by a coach throughout the season. This pairing maintains a close relationship to fine-tune preparation through specific training courses. Either in small groups, for example climbers going to high-altitude training camp, or individual training courses. Before tackling the Classics, Benoît Cosnefroy spent 5 days in the Var with his coach, Nicolas Guillé.

The coaching process


The riders have the highest margins of progress in the first three or four years. After that, the margins stabilize, the rider becomes more resilient and can handle heavier workloads. The coach then focuses on other specificities in order to continue to improve his rider and collaborates with other experts within the team (nutritionist, equipment expert, mental coach, data analyst).

The individualized follow-up is therefore very important to know an athlete and to identify the axes of progression over the years. It is necessary to be able to break the habits.

Thanks to AG2R CITROËN's U19 and U23 teams, from which Benoît Cosnefroy comes, the performance unit gains precious years thanks to a data history but also by building relationships at the beginning of a rider career.

Communication coach - rider


The quality of the relationship between the coach andrider has a direct impact on the preparation. The life of a rider professional cyclist is punctuated by constant travel between races and training sessions. Most of the time the communication is done at a distance.

Benoît and Nicolas have therefore set up rituals to exchange as much as possible. Debriefing after the races, exchanges after the sessions, a "weekly" every Monday morning.

The pair sometimes meet again during the race. Nicolas, in the earpiece as sports director, Benoît on the bike. An undeniable advantage when it comes to winning.

The state of mind of the preparation


The goal of any athlete participating in a sport is to be as mentally prepared as possible. This means having the right mindset to be able to succeed in their athletic goals.

For Nicolas Guillé, the success of an athlete's preparation goes beyond numbers and "watts". It is above all a human relationship that is established. There are things that can be felt but not measured. Details that allow the coach to push the rider to the limit.

Benoît Cosnefroy: "When Nicolas is there on certain specific sessions, he pushes me and allows me to go further. If I did this session alone at home, I might not go as far in the effort because we can simulate race situations."

As we approach the goal


The goal is approaching and the preparation is done. Hours in the saddle, exchanges and adjustments to get ready for the starting line. In these last moments, the trainer takes a back seat and lets the rider enter its bubble.

"I'm mainly focused on my preparation. I need to be sure that we have everything in place to be ready," says Benoit Cosnefroy. He continues: "Then it's the race. You can arrive at the top of your form, it is the race that will decide the result. I'm concentrating on a block of events rather than on one race in particular. The "Classics" are coming up, I'm ready, but if I don't get the result I want in the first race, it doesn't matter. There is a month of competition. You have to be on top of your game throughout this block and be able to seize the opportunities."

The work is done, the difference will be made on the road. We pin on the number. Let's start the race.