Whether it's rolling hills, crosswinds, sprint finishes or a Hors Categorie climb, to make it to the finish line in Paris, Tour de France riders have to be able to do it all. Include these three workouts that mimic the challenges of the famous race, so you can become a more well-rounded rider.
Saint Girons to Foix1 of 7
Skills needed: Conquering steep gradients; Descending
The stage: A new trend in pro cycling stage racing is the short mountain stage where anything can happen. While the Latrape, Cold d'Agnes and the Mur de Peguere aren't terribly long, they are some of the steepest gradients Tour riders will face. The final 3.3km of the Mur will feature gradients in the double digits, reaching into the 20-percent range on occasion. Even though this will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge, to reach the finish cyclists will need to stay sharp on the long 27km descent into Foix.
Saint Girons to FoixThe Workout 2 of 7
- You'll need plenty of power to tackle steep pitches. Since 20-percent gradients will require maximum effort, you'll need to include a few high-power output hill repeats into your weekly workouts.
- Find a hill that is at least one to two miles long. If you don't have any hills in your area, you can do this workout on an indoor trainer.
- To mimic the distance of the Mur de Peguere, which is about six miles, you'll need to complete four to six of these hill repeats depending on the length of the climb you're training on.
- If you're training with a power meter, the pace you'll want to begin the repeat with is threshold. If not, ride at a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of about 8 or 9 out of 10.
- During each 1- to 2-mile interval, ride for 15 seconds as hard as you can (RPE-10/10) two times with a short recovery between each effort. Your two 15-second efforts will mimic those really steep 20-percent gradients you'll need to crest.
- Recover for one to two minutes in between each interval or the time it takes you to get back down to the bottom. Remember to practice your descending skills on the way down, since you'll need to be a good descender to reach the finish line first.
Briacon to Izoard3 of 7
Skills needed: Ascending monster climbs
The stage: There are only three summit finishes in this year's Tour, and this one on the 14.1km Izoard promises to be the most decisive. In addition to this Hors Catgorie climb, cyclists will also need to ascend the challenging Col de Vars beforehand, which is 9.3km at 7.5 percent gradient.
Briacon to IzoardThe Workout 4 of 7
To get to the top of a really long climb, you'll need to find your sweet spot. This means maintaining a consistent effort for a fairly long duration. Pacing is key so you have enough energy to reach the top.
- If you're using a power meter, these efforts should be just below your functional threshold power or FTP. If you're using RPE to gauge your effort, you should ride these intervals at about a 7/10. This means continuous conversation should be difficult but you can still talk throughout these efforts.
- Begin with a 15-minute warm up, spinning easy at a cadence higher than 90 revolutions per minute.
- Complete three sets of 20-minute sweet spot intervals. If you have a long gradual climb near you that takes 20 minutes to get to the top, consider yourself lucky. If not, try these on an indoor trainer with your front wheel raised.
- During each of your three intervals, stand out of the saddle and sprint for 5 to 10 seconds every 3 to 4 minutes. This will help you deal with any gradient changes on the course.
- In between each interval, recover with 15 minutes of easy spinning.
- Cool down for 10 minutes in a high cadence.
Marseille Time Trial5 of 7
Skills needed: Sustained power
The stage: This short, individual time trial will take place in Marseille for the first time in the Tour's history. The course is flat except for one lone climb up the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde cathedral.
Marseille Time TrialThe Workout 6 of 7
While you can expect most Tour riders to be well under the 30-minute mark, this effort will probably take you at least 35 minutes if you're in good shape. The duration of your time trial intervals should be slightly more than this amount of time.
- Do these intervals on a flat road where you won't have to stop very often. You can also do these on an indoor trainer. If possible, try to do one of the four interval sets below on a moderate climb or by raising your front wheel on the indoor trainer.
- Begin with a 15- to 20-minute warm up, spinning easy.
- For the main set, complete three to four 12-minute intervals at race pace with 3 minutes of easy spinning in between each interval. If you're using a power meter, these efforts should be at or just above lactate threshold. If you're using RPE, your effort should be in the 8/10 range. Try to keep your effort level as even as possible for each interval.
- Cool down with 15 to 20 minutes of easy spinning.