BARCELONA, SPAIN – For Irishman Stephen Clancy the first race of his 2020 season for Team Novo Nordisk was the International Rhodes Tour in Greece. That race ended on March 6th. Two days later, the COVID-19 crisis hit Europe in full swing with Italy starting the first national lockdown.
Sporting events all over the world started getting cancelled and eventually we saw a full suspension of the professional cycling calendar. Travel restrictions came into effect that had never been seen or heard of before, and for many people, the only thing they thought about was getting home.
Clancy lives in Barcelona and it would only be a matter of days before Spain followed Italy on its full-scale national lockdown. Clancy and the rest of the Team Novo Nordisk squad at Rhodes had made it out of Athens just in time and all made it home to loved ones. Quickly, the next topic of discussion shifted to another major part of the day-to-day life of a pro athlete: how to train.
Clancy looks up from his Wahoo Kickr, “It was a bit of a shock to be honest,” said Clancy, reflecting on what it felt like to finish racing in Greece and immediately have your next objectives canceled just as you’d started your season.
“I never expected it to escalate to how it is now. We first heard about it during our January training camp, but we all continued our pre-season preparation as normal.”
“I was excited to get a last-minute call up to race in Greece with a block of stage races to follow. It meant I would get plenty of race days in the legs early on. Having all those plans cancelled unexpectedly was hard to swallow at first, but it makes complete sense now and I understand it’s the only option.”
The Irishman is an experienced, eloquent and considered presence on the team, always available, always willing to engage and always looking ahead. What’s been the hardest part of being in lockdown and training from home?
“Everyone has their happy place or happy activity,” continued Clancy. “Something that makes them feel good and helps them escape from other stresses in life. For me that’s getting outside and riding my bike. Indoor training just doesn’t do the trick for me, so I’m looking forward to being able to get out in the open air and enjoy that freedom again.”
“I think it’s important to be realistic. Accepting that I can’t do the same number of hours as usual, and just do what I can, given the situation. I try not to worry about what’s out of my control and do my best with the things I can control.”
It only takes a brief look online or social media to see how people around the world are filling their time during lockdown with everything from card games to homeschooling and yoga to rolls of toilet paper flying through the air like soccer balls filling up the digital streams, trending across the channels.
How does a professional cyclist pass the time when he’s not on the home trainer and what steps does he take to avoid the boredom setting in?
“I have been helping out in the garden a bit,” said Clancy. “Playing more guitar and learning a few new songs and also playing more board games than usual. Some reading, cooking, and of course, Netflix.”
“Seeing as all my girlfriend’s family are also benefitting from using my Wahoo Kickr (4 different bikes most days), I’ve become a pro at doing rear wheel changes. I could become a mechanic at the end of all this, as long as all I needed to do was swap out rear wheels!
“Reggae music has always been my favorite genre. I find it helps me to chill out during these difficult times. The only problem is when I need to do high-intensity interval training! I’ve been listening to a lot of Stick Figure, Tribal Seeds, Rebelution and SOJA.”
Stephen Clancy will be continuing to cook, play guitar, change rear wheels for his in-laws and put in the hours on his Wahoo Kickr whilst exploring the pain cave on Sufferfest throughout the remainder of lockdown. Observing the rules and bouncing to a reggae soundtrack.