April 19, 2024

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High Altitude Training in West Flanders

 It’s common knowledge that the Kemmelberg is the highest point of West Flanders. However, there has recently been a change. With a summit of no less than 4,500 meters above sea level, the roof of the coastal province is now located in Ledegem. Of course, it’s not a real mountain, but Monte Marcella. This is a brand-new resort featuring innovative altitude rooms for cyclists.

    As part of their preparation for their main goals, Wout van Aert, Lotte Kopecky, and Remco Evenepoel go on altitude training several times a year. “The benefits of this approach are beyond question,” explains Frederik Van Lierde. The former Ironman world champion and 2013 Sportsman of the Year acts as an ambassador for Monte Marcella. “At high altitude, the air contains less oxygen. The body responds by producing more red blood cells, which increases the capacity to transport oxygen. The ultimate result is an improvement in condition, endurance, and therefore performance.”

World Premiere for Ambitious Cyclists

    Cyclists no longer have to travel to distant mountain areas in search of those extra few percentages. From now on, they can find what they need in the heart of West Flanders. “Using the latest technology, we transform our 16 rooms, with a total of 42 beds, into altitude rooms. We simulate the same effects of altitude training,” says Van Lierde. “Moreover, we also offer altitude stimuli in many common areas, such as the food lounge, fitness and gym space, living room, wellness area, and cinema room. The more hours per day you spend in the thinner air, the better your sports result. Additionally, taking on the altitude challenge together also increases the mental resilience of the athletes. The numerous facilities at altitude make Monte Marcella unique in the world.”

Preparation for the Olympic Games

    The sports world agrees that the best results are achieved with the ‘live high, train low’ principle. Therefore, training is preferably done at sea level. There’s no shortage of enjoyable training routes near Monte Marcella, as the luxurious stay is centrally located in the Flemish cycling mecca. In less than an hour’s bike ride, you can reach the top of the Kemmelberg, and the iconic hills of the Flemish Ardennes, such as the Kwaremont, Koppenberg, and Paterberg, are just a stone’s throw away. After training, the cyclist continuously stays at high altitude in the resort.

From April 2024 to August, Monte Marcella exclusively targets professional athletes. “Several international UCI World Tour teams and a sports influencer have planned a stay with us,” Van Lierde reveals. “In addition, several athletes from the BOIC will definitely visit. In the run-up to the Paris Olympic Games, a stay at Monte Marcella could well make the difference between silver and gold.”

Competing with the Best

    After an exclusive start, Monte Marcella will open its doors to non-professional groups from August onwards. “We’re thinking of driven athletes, such as gran fondo riders, who seek the altitude stimulus in the run-up to an important competition. Even cycling enthusiasts who want to measure themselves against the pros will find what they’re looking for here,” says initiator Chris Mullie, an entrepreneur and recreational athlete himself. “We want to offer a concept where all recreational participants, regardless of their level, immerse themselves in the life of a top athlete for a while. The altitude room is just one of the attractions. In addition, we offer many extras such as sports massages, bike fitting, medical coaching, and sports science nutrition advice. Something for everyone, in other words.”

Choosing Monte Marcella guarantees you won’t get bored. To start with, the exclusive high-altitude resort is located in a green environment where it’s pleasant to stay. Additionally, there’s a media room, wellness area, fitness and gym space, Finnish track, lounge room, a heated 25-meter outdoor pool, and there will also be a gaming room, hobby space, and a cozy café, exclusively for the guests. “The name Marcella refers to my grandmother, who along with my grandfather Marcel, was the life and soul here for decades,” concludes Chris. “It’s their family farm that we’ve transformed into a luxurious resort for cyclists.”

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