By the lighthouse of Santa Cruz, California (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

By the lighthouse of Santa Cruz, California (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

I return to cycling. I return to Euskaltel Euskadi after my brief stay in the team back in 2005. I am really excited about this new professional challenge, and I hope that everyone (cyclists, staff and fans) will enjoy with the “orange” riders in the World Tour races in the years to come.

Here is an interview I have done for the team.

You were in the Euskaltel Euskadi team in 2005. It has been seven years already. What has changed for Iñigo Mujika?

First of all, I am seven years older! But during these years I have not been procrastinating, but working hard at Athletic Club Bilbao, USP Araba Sport Clinic, Spanish Swimming Federation, University of the Basque Country, Finis Terrae University in Chile, coaching elite triathletes, I have published three books, contributed to the creation and development of a scientific journal of sports physiology and training… All the work I have done during this seven-year period has given me new knowledge and ample experience, but besides that, I haven’t changed much: my passion for sports physiology and training, and my desire to try and help athletes perform to the best of their ability are still as strong as they were then.

What is it that brought you back to the team?

I love cycling, it’s a wonderful sport, and working in the sport again is attractive to me. Besides that, I thought the team’s project is particularly good and solid, and I think being part of such a project is an excellent opportunity. I know these are hard times for cycling, but I see hope for the future of the sport. There is sunshine after the storm, and I see a “new cycling” ahead, full of opportunities, especially for the teams that do things with commom sense and seriousness. Ours should be a pioneer among those teams, and I believe that the steps that have been taken so far go in that sense. In elite sports the basic things must be done extraordinarily well, without losing sight of the direction and the goal; that increases markedly the chances of attaining your goals. Team work will be absolutely necessary to succeed in such a path: cyclist, manager, sponsor, trainer, doctor, physiologist, mechanic, physiotherapist, biomechanist, masseur, cook… we all must work in the same direction, each and everyone must look for excellence in their duties, perform better than the opponents and learn faster than they do. This team’s philosophy can be an advantage or a limitation: we will have to work better that the rest to make sure it does not become a limitation.

Have you had other opportunities to get back to professional cycling during this time?

Yes, I had a couple of opportunities, but I was fully involved in the above mentioned jobs and unlike now, I did not feel it was the right time to take on that path. Nevertheless, I have not been completely away from the cycling world: as a matter of fact, these past years I have worked with triathletes and cyclists, at both elite and more modest performance levels, male and female.

In what will your contribution be special?

The team has undertaken a new time and a new path, and this requires evaluating, developing and maybe renovating the ways to prepare for and take on racing. We believe that in the above mentioned “new cycling” training based on sport sciences will be very important. It is happening in other sports and I don’t see why cycling should be any different. I believe that training, recovery, nutrition and psychology are the bases of sports performance. Other areas can also contribute, of course, but only if these basic areas are approached adequately. Sports physiology, training, recovery and nutrition are my areas of expertise, and we will try to do everything well in these areas. Besides that, I will bring to the team the knowledge and opinions I may have on other aspects that may be beneficial for the cyclists’ performance, to the extent that they may be helpful.

Are you particularly proud of any of your research studies (because it has taken very long to carry out, because the results have been particularly beneficial…)?

It is not easy for me to answer this question. It has been 20 years since since I entered the world of sports physiology (it was in October 1992 that I went to the French city of Saint-Étienne to carry out my Ph.D. studies), and most of the studies I have done ever since, if not all, have had a direct relationship with sports performance. This would be from my point of view the main reason to be proud. The studies on mathematical modeling of the relationships between training and performance, on tapering and detraining, on nutrition, hydration and use of supplements, on the physiological demands of competition, on youth athlete development, etc.; all or most have that special characteristic, a direct relationship with athletes’ performances. Besides that, I am really satisfied with the three books that I have published in the past three years (on tapering and peaking, swimming and endurance training, respectively), and also with the book on recovery that will be published next year.

Have you followed road cycling during these years?

Yes, of course. It is obvious that I paid more attention to football when I workd at Athletic Club Bilbao, these past four years to swimming, and along these two sports to triathlon, because I have been coaching several Basque elite triathletes for eleven years. But because I am a cycling fan I have tried to follow the sport, although it has been as a spectator, just like any other fan would: reading the news about cycling and watching the races on television. Besides that, I have continued to read the published research on cycling, because it is inherently interesting, and also because it can be useful for other sports. Therefore, I think I will bring totally up-to-date knowledge to the team.

What are your favourite cycling races?

I would say that Paris-Roubaix is the most spectacular race. From a professional point of view, the three-week grand tours, because they require preparation, recovery, nutrition, hydration, team work, strategy, mental toughness, etc. For personal reasons, the Tour of the Basque Country without a doubt!

You are an expert in endurance sports. Which is, in your opinion, the hardest sport?

This is a question that I am often asked, but I have never been able to provide a precise answer. Every sport is hard in its own way: in some cases, training is the hardest part, and competition may be a bit “easier”, like swimming; in other sports training is very hard, one must also suffer a lot in competition, but in most of them competition is a one-day event: triathlon, marathon running, rowing, cross-country skiing are examples of such sports. Road cycling is in a class of its own: one must suffer in training and racing, sometimes for a day, some other times for a week, and sometimes for three weeks! However, a well-prepared athlete can also enjoy the suffering, particularly when the outcomes are satisfying.

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  1. Adrian Santrac

    Hi Inigo,

    I stumbled on your website after surfing to see what you are doing. Its wonderful to see that you have been so busy and successful since we worked together at the AIS.

    Please get in touch if you have time.


    December 3, 2012
  2. Hey Adrian, great to hear from you. What a coincidence too: I talked about our National Training Programme for AUS women’s football in 2003 and 2004 in one of my university lectures this morning, including a team photo of you and the Matildas. I hope all is well. You can contact me by e-mail on


    December 3, 2012

    Excellente opportunité Inigo ! J’espère que tu auras une grande influence dans l’évolution de ce magnifique sport au regard de tes compétences et de tes fabuleuses expériences dans les sports d’endurance notamment.

    Je vais suivre tout cela très attentivement.

    Bon courage et à très bientôt,


    December 3, 2012
  4. Merci Stéphane!

    December 3, 2012
  5. Sam Callan

    I hope you enjoy being back in cycling. Drop me an email. I hope you get back to Colorado Springs soon!

    December 4, 2012
  6. Thank you Sam! I am sure I will, and I hope to see you in Colorado Springs sometime soon. It’s been a while…

    December 4, 2012
  7. J. Paulo Vilas-Boas

    All the best Inigo! But please keep close to swimming science also…

    December 16, 2012
  8. Thank you Joao Paulo! It will be nearly impossible for me to be fully involved in cycling and keep close to swimming science, but I will certainly follow your work and that of other swimming scientist. Best regards.

    December 17, 2012
  9. Lucas

    Dr Iñigo siento si el lugar es inadecuado para compartir mi experiencia , pero a raiz de esta entrada y otra sobre los nuevos habitos en el ciclismo quiero compartir contigo mi experiencia y sensaciones en el desarrollo de mi rendimiento partiendo de los datos derivados de un medidor de potencia y conocer tu opinión al respecto.
    Empecé en el 2009 a entrenar con medidor de potencia para desarrollar mi rendimiento en bicicleta, hasta entonces había hecho unos dos años de entrenamiento planificado con un pulsometro como medición. Los entrenamientos con pulsometro consistieron en no pasar nunca el 85% de mi F.max cuando empecé con el entrenamiento por potencia cambie radicalmente los hábitos de entrenamiento guiado por las especificaciones de mi entrenador, empecé hacer periodos de base con un día de sweet spot y otro más corto de zona umbral siempre sin pasar el umbral hasta no pasar a otra fase donde desarrollaba el VO2max. Mi rendimiento mejoró muchísimo durante dos años consecutivos,decir que incluso en la fase transitiva hacia algo de zona 3, mi umbral no solía ni suele bajar mucho en pretemporada, perdia peso en la fase de base, sentía una mejora en las recuperaciones y mi umbral subía unos 10 vatios aproximadamente en el transcurso de ocho a diez semanas de base. Pero a partir del 2012 mi rendimiento se estanco, la mejoras del umbral cesaron me estanqué en el peso y mis sensaciones empeoraron en la fase de base. La sensaciones que tengo hoy por hoy en la fase de base son muy inestables unos días muy buenas otras muy malas, mi umbral no sube más y los entrenamientos por debajo del umbral son raros parece que el cuerpo me pide entrenamientos más duros, incluso creo que estoy experimentando un retroceso, mi entrenador dice que es necesario una fase donde no es conveniente pasar el umbral sin embargo mi cuerpo parece indicarme otra cosa. No se si el problema son los malos habitos de estos últimos años entrenando con medidor de potencia en los cuales más bien tenia que haber realizado una fase sin sweet spot ni zona umbral antes de abordar este tipo de entrenamientos o que el problema es en estos momentos completamente diferente y que más bien radica en que necesito hacer entrenamientos por encima del umbral des de el principio para seguir mejorando. Partiendo de estos datos me gustaría saber como lo interpretas tú. Desde tu experiencia como profesional del rendimiento que me aconsejarías ¿entrenamientos más duros o un periodo de calma? Mi intención y objetivo en estos momentos es seguir mejorando. Gracias por tu atención

    February 23, 2013
  10. Hola Lucas. Me resulta imposible hacerte una recomendación sobre la línea que deberías seguir con tu entrenamiento, ya que no dispongo de elementos para valorar las razones por las que te has podido “estancar” en tu proceso de entrenamiento. Que haya una deceleración en el ritmo de mejora, incluso un estancamiento temporal no es extraño. Supongo que tu entrenador sabe las cargas de trabajo que has llevado a cabo hasta ahora, conoce tu perfil de adaptación y sabe qué tipo de trabajo te conviene en cada momento para seguir avanzando. Yo te recomendaría que confies en su trabajo y que tengas paciencia.

    February 25, 2013
  11. Lucas

    gracias tendré paciencia

    February 27, 2013