What do Tour Riders take before they race?

By Matt Johnson
August 26, 2019

[Placeholder]What do Tour Riders take before they race?

As we about to enter the 3rd week of the Tour de France, I wanted to share an inside view of how riders of the Tour de France start their day and get ready for the stage.

Wake-up / Breakfast

Breakfast starts at precisely 3 hours before the start of the stage, so riders have time to digest fully. Each team has a Chef at the Tour who prepares a variety of dishes for breakfast, the one dish that is always present is Oatmeal. The reason riders love oatmeal is the slow-burning sustained energy it delivers. Our favorite Oatmeal is Picky Oats (and it is 20% off) for its great tasting flavors. I know more than a few riders that travel with it stashed in their suitcase.

Morning Supplements

Alongside breakfast comes the riders personal supplement routines. Eating real food is the first choice to get the micronutrients the riders need. But, the stress of the Tour (and most endurance sports) requires additional supplementation for health, recovery, and performance reasons:

  • Digestive Health: This is important not only for getting the most nutrients out of the food they eat but also for keeping their immune systems functioning at full force. That's why many probiotics, especially those explicitly geared towards athletes like Sound Probiotics, have become so popular in the Pro Peloton. It helps them digest the large volumes of food they are eating and keeps their gut functioning properly during high-stress racing and traveling. Anecdotally, we have also seen far fewer riders get sick when the whole team is taking Sound Probiotics.
  • Multi-Vitamin. It is hard for the riders to ingest several well-balanced meals to replenish each day, which often means vegetables and fruits get left behind. A multi-vitamin is like an insurance policy that keeps them covered and helps them get all of the micronutrients they need. The highest quality multi-vitamin we have tested is Thorne Multi-Vitamin Elite, and it is a mainstay for many riders.
  • Immunity: Specialized throat lozenges and sprays are standard in Europe for the belief that they help fend off infection. Our favorite is BeeKeeper's Naturals Propolis Throat Spray. It uses Bee Propolis, known as "bee glue" that bee's place as a sticky doormat to their hives to keep out unwanted germs. It turns out it works in your throat as well as a potent Antimicrobial.
  • Lactic Buffering: Sur AltRed has become a go-to supplement for top athletes in cycling, running, and triathlon. Its ability to help buffer lactic acid provides an advantage over those that aren't taking it. When you use it, your legs will just hurt less for the same relative effort.
  • Inflammation: Riders are using Omega-3's as anti-inflammatories to help with body repair and recovery, and Thorne's Super EPA is an excellent example of this. Also, more and more riders have introduced Tart Cherry into their morning routine for its anti-inflammation properties and take 1 to 2 capsules of VitalFit Tart Cherry with breakfast.
  • High Performance. Two supplements have been used to great effect for boosting performance. The first performance-boosting supplement is Optygen HP, which uses Adaptogens to increase cardiovascular performance. The second performance booster we like at The Feed is for boosting NAD+ levels. NAD+ is a critical component of normal metabolic function in every cell in your body. When NAD+ levels drop, your cells don't work as well and your energy levels will lower. During intense endurance events (and also just with age!) your NAD+ levels decline. We use products such as TruNiagen and Eternus (using both together is the ultimate hack) to boost NAD+ levels. While the Tour riders are doing this for performance, it is also great for everyday health for everyone over 40 years old.

On the Bus Before the Stage

  • Caffeine: No self-respecting Tour rider starts the stage without coffee. Not only is the caffeine a well-known performance and VO2 Max booster, but it is also a time-honored tradition. The Nespresso machine on the team budget should be getting paid overtime for the volume of coffee it pumps out in the morning. We are also coffee fans at The Feed, and our favorite local Boulder brew is Boxcar Coffee, which we have available now at The Feed.
  • Chammy Cream: Getting a saddle sore during the tour can be a disaster in your performance and enjoyment level of racing the Tour. The master of nether region health was David Zabriskie, and he even created his own brand of Chammy Cream, DZ nuts that is amazing. Many riders won't go on a long ride without it.
  • Sunscreen: In the first 10km of the race, I have heard riders many times call up on the radio to ask the team car to bring them "sun cream" because they forgot to put it on before the stage. The key is to have a sunscreen that is easy to apply, and you won't sweat off, we have tested them all, and the best is Kinesys Sunscreen.
  • Lactic Buffering Lotion: This is relatively new, but almost all the teams are using the AMP Human Performance lotion. Most started using it only before time trials, but now they are using it both before and after almost every stage. It is a topical lotion that delivers sodium bicarbonate to your bloodstream through your skin. Sodium Bicarbonate is a powerful and proven lactate buffering agent that helps you get farther before fatiguing and also recover better the next day.

At this point, it is game on for the riders. If you have any questions, just hit reply and I'll be happy to help you out.

Vive Le Tour