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Tour de France 2013 -The SMS “how do they do that??” guide.

-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe

Last modified: June 26, 2013

This “how do they do that??” Tour de France guide is going to be written in four parts: Intro (this), first week, second week and third week review… So down to the main question “how do they do that”?

If you want info on the route etc cycling news has good info.

The Intro

How are teams selected for the Tour de France?

Team selections for the Tour de France are done by eye mostly, i.e. a manager will choose his rider based more on what he feels, rather than how many watts he produces. This is called a ‘qualitative assessment’, although ‘quantitative factors’ (things you can measure) are considered. Factor that influence these decisions are lab tests, temperament, age, track record, season plan and training status. The role the rider plays in the team is important. A good team always has a specific aim for the race and will choose the best riders to accomplish this. E.g. OmegaPharma/Quickstep will have a team of top roulleurs (guys who go well on the flat) to bring Cav to the line in the best conditions. But team Sky will have a lot of climbers to make sure they can control the race in the mountains (more on this as the race goes on)…

team sky working away at the 2012 Tour de France
team work is key to success

Cycling lesson: Specialize in what you’re good at.

How do they train for the Tour??

The riders train for the Tour de France, with a lot of racing compared even to us pros in the continental ranks, or amateur. Riders doing the Tour might ride the Giro, Tour of Switzerland or Dauphiné Libéré in the run up to the tour as part of their training. The work they do outside of these races will be specific to their role. E.g. roulleurs might train sustainable power a lot, sprinters sprinting and climbs do a lot of training in and around ‘lactic threshold’. They might do the final bit of fine tunning at a training camp 2-4 weeks before the event. These guys are beasts and do at least 2000 km a month for the 6-7 months running up to the tour… Think about that next time you check the mileage in your car!

Dauphiné server as a 'warm up' for the Tour de France
Dauphiné serves as a ‘warm up’ for the tour

Cycling lesson: Choose realistic objectives and according to your speciality.

What do they eat before the race?

In the weeks running up to the race, Tour de France riders will be fine tunning their body, loosing a lot of fat… Some guys get bellow 4%! That’s basically the essential fat the body needs and nothing more. Usually the guys who have a lot of work might carry 1% or so more fat. It’s hard for people to fathom just how skinny this is… not necessarily healthy. Read how to train healthily

Their diet of a Tour de France cyclisyt will have a lot of protein and a lot of fat (good, polyunsaturated fat) think Mediterranean diet. Sweets and alcohol are usually cut too, although a lot of cyclists will drink a glass of wine with dinner. At the race this changes.

For an in depth article on training intensity and nutrients check out ‘the metabolic mix’

Diet of a Tour de France cyclist
Mediterranean diet

Cycling lesson: Mediterranean diet is good, moderation is good. Skinny is good.


So I’ve answered a few questions here: How much they train, what they eat and how they are selected to race the Tour de France. What questions have you got about how do they do that in the Tour de France???

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