Paul Stockham's Blog
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The Importance of being Fit and Healthy

Oscar Freire won a tough Milan – San Remo at the weekend proving again that when he is fit and healthy, he is tough to beat at the end of these longer more selective races. He may not be as prolific as some of his younger sprint rivals, but three MSR wins and three World Championships put him in with some pretty elite company!

Staying fit and healthy seems to have been the main reason he has not won more races. Freire has been plagued with saddle sores and various back and neck problems and there is no doubt he would have won more races without all the injury lay-offs.

It’s funny he is only 34, but seems to have been around for ever. He burst onto the scene in 1999 when he won his first World Championship in Verona leaving most fans asking Oscar who? He has proved over the years that this was no fluke after two more Rainbow Jerseys.

He may not have the quantity, but the quality is definitely there. Most years he wins five or six races, but if you look through his Palmarès there are not too many “junk” wins – plenty of big stage wins in the major tours, classic and semi-classic wins and those three World Championships!

When “Oscar the Cat” is fit and healthy he is a real threat especially if the race is long or has a hill before the sprint. How many times have we seen him beat supposedly faster sprinters, because he handles the hills better?

Someone else who has definitely had health issues this year is Mark Cavendish. Cavendish normally has no problem with “quantity” and the “quality” seems to going up as he matures as well. I liked the interview he gave post MSR – very complimentary about Freire winning and no tantrums about his crashes or bad luck!

Hopefully he is fit and healthy again now and got his first win of the year in Catalunya on Tuesday.

Pro Cycling is hard enough if you are fit and healthy, if not there is really no where to hide. Striking a balance can be tough; overtraining may damage your health, but under training WILL damage your fitness!

So for all you “Weekend Warriors” out there, keep everything in balance and stay fit and healthy.


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