Welcome to the December issue of La Gazetta delle Granfondo Axel Merckx ! As a special thanks to those who have already registered, and as an enticement to those who are on the verge, we have a special treat for you. Register by midnight Jan. 10th and receive a chance to win a Team RadioShack jersey signed by Lance Armstrong! 


The entire Granfondo Axel Merckx family would like to wish you and your family a very Happy Holidays. Best wishes and safe training!

  •  Axel’s Corner: learn why fitness tests are just one part of the equation for success at any level
  •  Order your Granfondo kit today: Get that official Granfondo kit that you’ve always wanted. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a Giordana custom jersey!
  •  The Food Cycle: This holiday, try baking up some Granfondo Anti-Bonk Bars
      In case you missed it:
    • Axel and friends popped into Vancouver for an impromptu Sunday morning spin in November – Check out the pics HERE!
    • Is Lance Armstrong riding the Granfondo Axel Merckx?  We don’t know, but you can win his jersey?!

  • Axel’s Corner
    Axel Merckx reflects on 14-years as a pro cyclist

    2007 was the last year of my career, and ultimately a very emotional one. 

    It started in October 2006 when I received a phone call from the T-Mobile team (now HTC-Columbia Team) asking if I was interested in racing for them in my last season. My role in the team would be to help their young riders and share my 13 years experience with them. I agreed.

    I had to fly to Germany for a bunch of required UCI blood and health tests. It is there that I first met my relatively unknown teammate, Mark Cavendish. I remember opening my hotel room door and having this young kid come up to me and say: “Hi I am Mark Cavendish, I am your teammate for next year”.   

    Not that I didn’t know Mark, but I must admit, I knew very little about this chubby little rider from the Isle of Man who had a reputation of being very fast. 

    In January of 2007, we had our first training Camp in Mallorca, Spain where we endured more tests. More specifically, we all completed an endurance strength assessment test. The trainer of the team was particularly hard on Mark after his test, telling him he didn’t have the fitness to be a Pro Tour rider. Mark’s numbers were not good at all. 

    Relatively inexperienced at the time, Cavendish walked around really depressed. Roger Hammond, however, did a great job helping him out. I decided to tell Mark story about a certain Johan Musseeuw in 2000. Johan did a test in the now really famous Mapei centre in Italy, one week before the real crucial races of the season for him, the Spring Classics. The verdict after the test was not as he had hoped. Johan registered his worst test to date, which rose a little of hesitation toward his predicted performance that spring. Johan went back home and didn’t really worry about it. He ultimately won “Dwars door Belgium” in an impressive way seven days later, and gave his version of his fitness when it really mattered. 

    I think that Mark took this advice the best way possible, and won the 2007 “GP Van Steenbergen”, beating a certain Robbie McEwen and the rest of the field in the sprint. The same thing happened to me in 2001 the week before “GP Wallonie”. But my motivation then was to offer my newborn baby girl Axana her first flowers ever. 

    Physical tests are a great tool but inherently have one failure in my eyes. They don’t measure the power of the mind over the body. To all the riders out there analyzing their tests to the “T”, keep in mind you are only as strong as you want to be. Numbers are numbers, but a race was never won on a VO2 Max test. 

    Thanks for reading and happy holidays.
    Axel Merckx 

    Order your official Granfondo Axel Merckx kit today!

    Commemorate your epic ride with the official cycling kit of the inaugural Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan.   

    With subtle nods to Axel Merckx’s Belgian roots and his new home in B.C.’s Interior, this sleek, custom Pro Level jersey, short and full kit is made by our cycling apparel sponsor Giordana. And we’re now offering it to you for a limited time and at an unbelievable price.   
    The not-so fine print (we didn’t want to hurt your eyes…!)
    All orders must be placed no later than April 15th, 2011. Orders may be picked up at the Merchandise Booth inside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on the weekend of the Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan. As a reminder, anyone who registers in the Classe Speciale category will receive a complimentary full kit.

    Click here for details and prices on Cycle Component Network.

    **Note: those already registered for the event can access their registration account and purchase these items. New registrations will include the option to purchase apparel at that time. 

    Don’t let bad weather ruin a good work-out

    It’s snowing or raining outside and you need to get on your saddle. An indoor cycling workout is not only possible, it’s an efficient and successful way to train when Mother Nature doesn’t agree. An hour on a spin bike or indoor trainer is equivalent to nearly two hours on the road. So get yourself a set of rollers, or an indoor trainer, or find a spin class at the neighbourhood gym, cause it’s time to train…indoor style. 

    1. Time is of the essence 

    You can spin for as little as 30 to 60mins and still achieve a terrific work-out. Here’s a simple work-out plan that will have you testing the boundaries of your fitness. 

    Warm–up (5 to 10 min): Stay in an easy gear and increase your leg speed for short bursts (30 to 60 seconds). These are called spin-ups and two or three of them are a great way to warm-up your leg muscles and work on pedaling mechanics. 

    Main set (~33 mins at about 65-75% Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)): Choose a mid-level resistance. The intensity is such that you shouldn’t really feel any lactic acid in your legs.  

    • 1 min Hard – 30 sec Easy  (lower speed or resistance during “Easy” phase)
    • 2 min Hard – 30 sec Easy
    • 3 min Hard – 30 sec Easy
    • 3 min Hard – 30 sec Easy
    • 2 min Hard – 30 sec Easy
    • 1 min Hard
    • Full Easy recovery for 2 to 3 min 


    Cool down (5 to 10 min): Nice and easy. During this time incorporate some one leg pedaling drills. 

    2. Training with music 

    Let’s face it. Riding a trainer can be a little boring. But with the right musical selections, you can optimize your training session and make time fly. Here are some ideas for making the ultimate Indoor Training Playlist (note: for an hour workout, you’ll need approximately 13 to 15 songs):  

    • Warm-up – A good warm-up song has an expectant energy to it (e.g. I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash).
    • Climbing – these songs have a good, steady rhythm, but with a slower beat. In fact, the beat will match the type of cadence you would use on a climb (e.g. Higher and Higher – Jackie Wilson).
    • Intervals/Single leg drills – Music with quick steady beats are perfect for interval sets, time trials, and pyramid repeats. Many remixed versions of rock and Top 40 classics, as well as European-styled dance music fit into this category. Pick a song that is between 5 and 10 minutes in length (e.g. Around the World – Daft Punk).
    • Sprinting – a good sprinting tune has a beat that naturally drives you toward a burst of increased pace. These songs usually have a faster tempo during the chorus (e.g. Stronger – Kanye West).
    • Cool down – these are mellow songs that let you slow down naturally, stretch your muscles, and appreciate your hard training session. Try to include 2 to 3 complete songs for your cool down (e.g. Don’t Let Me Down – Beatles).  

    The Food Cycle: Granfondo Anti-Bonk Bar

    Homemade Energy!It’s fun, easy, economical and healthy to make your own energy bars. If you’re heading out to a spin class or the gym after work, you can eat these on the way for a quick energy boost.  


    • 1/4 cup butter, melted, or oil
    • 4 large eggs; beaten
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 cup nonfat milk powder
    • 3/4 cup rolled oats
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 3/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
    • 2 cups chopped raisins or other dried fruit*
    • 2 1/2 cups walnuts; chopped *
    • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional) * 


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. Beat together eggs and oil, and sift together dry ingredients, except fruit. Add flour mixture to eggs, combine, then stir in fruit, nuts*, and chips*. Spread evenly in pan, bake for 30 minutes. They’ll still be soft when done. Cool, cut into 24 pieces, wrap in foil and freeze. 

    * Use various types of seeds or nuts, and maybe some M&M’s. 

    Nutritional information (approximate)
    • 200 calories per bar
    • 9 grams fat 3 to 4 grams fiber
    • 15 grams protein
    • 26 grams carbohydrates 

    Did you know? Bonking describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, which manifests itself by precipitous fatigue and loss of energy. 

    Interested in sponsoring the inaugural Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan?

    Become a sponsor today. The benefits that come from your association with one of the premiere athletic and cultural events of the summer are obvious. Strong brand. Well organized. Great cause. 

    With as many as 4,000 cyclists and countless friends and family members taking part in this weekend event, your name and brand will be front and centre throughout the weekend. For information on sponsorship opportunities, e-mail: info@granfondoaxelmerckx.com 

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