Physio with a Sense of Humour
14/01/2012 - It’s not just the riders who sport the jerseys and compete in the race who make up Team Saxo Bank.
Supporting the cycling stars in the background is the rest of the team - a large dedicated group of professionals who work unrelentingly to ensure that the Team Saxo Bank riders fulfil all their goals.
Anfi spoke to one of these unsung heroes the team physiotherapist and funny man, Kenneth Ellefsen.
Gran Canaria, Kenneth told us, made for a particularly difficult training camp with riders climbing to an average height of 2500 metres during the daily a five hour training sessions.
He joked “ It’s a lot of climbing for one day - the Tour de France will seem like a piece of cake after Gran Canaria. After here, some of the guys will go on to race in Australia and Argentina - so they will be in great shape!”
Despite the island’s challenging geography, forty year old Kenneth acknowledged that Gran Canaria is an excellent destination for a training camp.
He said, “It’s a hard training camp and we’ve got a big group but it’s great for moral. The varied landscape and beautiful scenery certainly helps moral and makes the time go quicker. The conditions are perfect for the riders to get in shape for their upcoming challenges.”
Asked how his job differed from that of a normal physiotherapist. He told us, “I need to work on the riders’ “soft spots”. First relaxation, manipulation and then a lot of cracking. Riders are mostly in tune with their own bodies and are able to identify where they have pain but sometimes they aren’t so sure - they just know they aren’t performing well. Not peddling right or some other complaint.”
He continued, “We chat first, check their breathing and try and find the problem. Mostly the root is physical - but sometimes it’s emotional, mainly stress. These guys are under a lot of pressure from sponsors media, sports directors etc - they are never alone.”
He explained that during the training camps he concentrated on the riders’ weaknesses and injuries to ensure they reach peak health in preparation for the races. “ I have time to talk to the riders and diagnose their problems. I can be tougher and work more intensely with them. They might miss a day’s training as a result. We can’t allow that during the races.”
“Some riders are more fragile than other and have recurring problems. Each of us: sports director, doctor, cook, etc - we all have our specific roles to play – but we also act as psychologists.”
Kenneth summed up smiling, “As a the team behind the riders we have to figure out how to make sure that the riders always do their best.”
“And if we can do that, it means we’ve got a contract and job for the following year.”