This week’s Fast Friday features Jacques van Zyl – an athlete I’ve been working with for just about two years now who is based in Windhoek, Namibia.

Jacques’ primary discipline is road cycling but he has a passion for mountain biking and, in particular, stage racing. He participates in all of the local Namibian races as well as several South African events across both disciplines.  

Trying Something New

This week however, we take a look at a discipline that Jacques is very new to, Time Trial and more specifically, Team Time Trial (TTT). When I say he is new to this, we decided at the end of 2018 to give this a go and have only really been focusing on it since January 2019. 

In Jacques’ own words…

Team time trial is, in my opinion, one of the hardest disciplines of road cycling and maybe cycling in general. To be able to ride a good time trial you must be able to suffer. The key to TTT is to do your training with your teammates and get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

This is where, as his coach, I had the challenge of setting his programme to get him to train on his own in order to get him ready for the four individual time trials in the series as well as work in team training sessions where he and his team could perfect their strategy, timing and effort management in the short time they had.

As we know, no two athletes are alike, and this couldn’t be more evident with Jacques’ training. He responds really well to a big volume of training with a small amount of real quality work. He recovers better and can turn it on when he needs to.

The four individual time trials took place over 4 consecutive weeks and went as follows: week 1 TT, week 2 Hill Climb, week 3 TT, week 4 Hill Climb. We used the TTs as races and prep for the main TTT on the 30th of June and the hill climb events were used purely as training. He managed to get podium positions in both time trials.

A firsthand account of the race

Jacques account of the Team Time Trial last weekend:

One of the things that made a huge difference for me was the sufficient rest I took the week before the event. I took 2 days completely off  and then just did my one hour easy rides the two days before the event. So when I got to the line I was ready to go with rested legs. 

Another thing that made a huge difference was I rode my road bike to the event  which was a half hour ride by bike. So I was warm and also more relaxed when I got to the start. I then got on my TT bike on the trainer and just did an easy 20 minute warm up with 3-4 efforts of just engaging the system. 

During the time trial which was 2 laps of 22km, we were going at a decent pace and ended with a 44.6 km/h average. I do think we could go faster on the first lap, but again it was an effort that had to be managed so that we didn’t shed any riders on the first lap, because that would have meant less rest and more efforts in the front for the remaining riders.

We did lose one team mate on the end of the first lap and that did change the dynamic of the whole effort which resulted in the loss of a second teammate half way through the second lap. This made things more difficult all of a sudden because we were only three left and we had to finish together as timing is taken on the third cyclist’s wheel over the mat. 

As a result, we had to go over to a more basic approach where every rider did his turn without picking the pace up significantly or dropping it, but rather keeping it consistent.

We managed to get a third place, so it didn’t go too bad and throughout the effort I felt strong and confident with the mindset of knowing what to expect as well as what is expected from me.”  

It is once again important to note that this was only their first team time trial together. It was a great result and one that, as a coach, put a huge smile on my face.

This is definitely a discipline we are going to explore further and I look forward to watching him grow.

What’s next?

Jacques is currently taking a week off and will then enter into a short base block, in preparation for the second half of the year’s racing, which will include Berg & Bush stage race, 947 Cycle Challenge and the main event Desert Dash as a two man team in Namibia, just to mention a few.

Well done Jacques, keep up the hard work!


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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