What's Cool In Road Cycling

OPQS Owner Zdenek Bakala to open new sports research, testing and coaching center

KU Leuven, partnering with Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team owner Zdenek Bakala, opened the new state-of-the-art research and testing center for sports performance, the Bakala Academy, on Thursday, October 3rd. KU Leuven and Mr. Bakala are united in dedication to building a ‘Center of Excellence’ in the field of sports science and athletic performance.

The Bakala Academy has a threefold mission: research, education and training. The Research Department, led by Professor Peter Hespel of KU Leuven, forms the foundation of the academy’s activities. Here, innovative knowledge is developed to improve athletic performance. In the Education Center, athletes of all skill levels can consult experts and receive guidance tailored to their specific needs and goals. In the Training Center, promising young researchers and trainers integrate research and coaching to help educate the top sport scientists and trainers of the future.

All of these efforts find a home in the new Athletic Performance Center. The building is a new milestone in the cooperation between university-level sport research and the elite-level sports world. The Bakala Academy – Athletic Performance Center houses state-of-the-art testing facilities and a high-altitude center.

Professor Hespel: “We want to offer top athletes every available form of testing and support, all grounded in scientific knowledge. The aim, of course, is to improve performance. We do not solely emphasize endurance sports such as cycling, triathlon, and long-distance running. Rather, we want to apply our expertise in all sports disciplines.”

Both elite and recreational athletes are welcome at the Bakala Academy. The center offers various training and testing choices, as well as tips about correct cycling and running posture, body composition, nutrition, injury prevention, jet lag, high-altitude exercise, and more.

Professor Hespel: “We want to translate the knowledge we generate at Bakala Academy through our intensive work with elite athletes into knowledge that is also beneficial to recreational athletes seeking to push their limits. In addition, the academy also offers companies the opportunity to integrate a culture of sports and health living into their company philosophy.”

OPQS riders Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar were in attendance among the guests of the day at the Bakala Academy opening.

Boonen: “I am really impressed with everything, from the facility to the quality of the services that will be provided to riders. But this facility is not only for riders. Sportsmen in general can find this facility very useful. Also, it will be nice for OPQS to use these services, and it is also important for the entire cycling world. The Bakala Academy will be important to discover talent and to also put the guys with talent in the right direction, with the right approach to the sport.”

Stybar: “The center is great. I was very impressed, especially about the altitude center. It will allow riders like me to have longer periods of time in altitude — for example, two weeks in a real altitude stage of training, but also a week in the Bakala Academy altitude center to maintain or even improve the effect of the real altitude training. So you can go to higher altitudes on the road, and when you come back to Belgium you can train but also sleep in the altitude room. That is really important. It will be super nice. I also think the staff of Bakala Academy is great. I know them well and they will bring a lot of benefits to our team.”

For more information, visit: https://www.bakala-academy.com

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