- Jacky, you’re the doctor for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, how did you approach the team’s preparation for 2018?
We started gearing up for the 2018 season by doing all the medical assessments at the end of the 2017 sports season. We do things like cardiac stress tests, posturography tests and cardiac ultrasounds in October. This is also when we do the micronutrition lab tests. If the results show there is an imbalance (oxidative stress, immune disorders, intestinal hyperpermeability), we can schedule a longer rest period for the riders to help them recover better.
At our first meetup in December, we arrange one-to-one and team meetings with our micronutritionist to explain to the riders how important nutrition is for their health and performance. This meetup also gives us the chance to give them personalised advice based on the results of their tests and to answer their questions about the micronutrition strategy used by the Groupama FDJ team.
It’s well known that high-performance athletes are often prone to health issues. Have you noticed any changes in the riders you have supervised for micronutrition in recent years? Have you seen any improvements in regard to these ailments?
The intensity of a professional cyclist’s routine (training 25 hours a week, 300 days per year), combined with the psychological strain, difficult weather conditions and jet lag, mean that we see a lot of disorders, especially those affecting the immune system, with intestinal hyperpermeability and a considerable increase in oxidative stress.
Despite eating a perfect diet, these issues persist and may be explained by a genetic predisposition to the way their bodies and their metabolism handle their training load.
These frontline observations need to be examined in more depth by scientific studies so that we can target the intestinal lining as the point of origin of many disorders which hamper athletes’ performance.
With regular use of probiotics and prebiotics combined with a special macronutrient diet, we’ve seen substantial improvements in terms of recurrent infections, injuries and the recovery time for post-effort fatigue. So it has an effect on the athlete’s health as well as their performance.