It's the eve of the 109th edition of le Tour de France and the buzz is building. There's talk of who may win the first stage, who's on form, and what to expect as it unfolds. You may be curious though; what are some things these riders are bringing to the table in this year's edition to find that "edge"? In Part Three, we discuss the biggest trends that are leading the way.
The trends of the past few years of high-carb fueling are continuing. With many riders now reaching above 100g of carbs per hour, the best riders (and their teams) have become religious about it.
The Pro peloton is using products like Maurten, NeverSecond, and Science in Sport to increase their fuel intake while minimizing GI distress. These products use two sources of carbohydrates to utilize both pathways of absorption. Without getting too into the weeds, if you can eat and absorb more carbohydrate for big efforts, you’ll minimize the glycogen getting pulled out of the muscles. What does that mean? More energy substrate available.
Additionally, it means these riders are digging smaller holes for themselves each day. While the demands are unparalleled, being able to fuel closer to their output = less room to make back up.
More teams are now looking at higher sodium drinks for post-race recovery and rehydration. While teams aren’t necessarily using them during the race (due to the lack of carbs) it is a great high electrolyte/sodium rehydration mix we are seeing become more and more popular.
The classic thinking that high amounts of sodium are bad for us, especially athletes, is finally falling away.
Generally, you may lose ~1L of sweat per hour in warm and/or indoor conditions. In that 1L of sweat, you can lose between 1000mg to 3000mg of sodium!
That amount of sodium is nearly impossible to overcompensate for. The Pros are utilizing products like LMNT to stay on top of electrolyte replacement and limit the effects of repeated dehydration.
Ketones are one of the body's natural energy sources. They’ve long been a topic of the ketogenic diet advocates but are now finding praise in the endurance realm. Ketones are produced when the body’s glycogen (a form of glucose that comes from carbohydrates) stores are exhausted, prompting a conversion of fat to ketones for a fuel your body can easily utilize.
Pros are utilizing this to aid in performance by encouraging the body to efficiently burn fuel over the course of the day. It can serve as an alternative fuel during the stage so they burn a mixture of glycogen (carbs) and Ketones in the first 3 or 4 hours of the stage, preserving more glycogen (carbs) for later in the stage. Since glycogen is a cyclist's most powerful and explosive energy source, the riders that have more at the end of the race can put more power out + have more explosive sprints.
Further, it helps them to stay mentally sharp during the stages and almost all riders are using post-stage + again before bed.
There are a few options, encompassing performance-focused products like Ketone IQ and Ketoneaid; while TdeltaS offers a spectrum of ketone-based products for both fasting support/health and performance.
We are seeing further increased popularity of every rider having compression boots. While they have previously been used for recovery post-stage, more riders are now using them on the team bus before the stages to prepare their bodies for performance.
Normatec and the new TherabodyJetboots are becoming typical to see around teams all the time. They offer a chance to get fluid moving, activate the system, and prepare the musculature for work in addition to their recovery benefits.
This is no new fad, but the development of proven practice. What started with pantyhose full of ice has continued and gained some technology along the way.
The TdF is often very hot and you will see rides preparing for a stage on the trainer, attempting to cool their body as they warm up their legs.
Drinking slushies for internal cooling, wearing gel-based vests, using fans, and draping ice towels around their neck and head are all common practices to keep core temperature down. This has been linked to affecting the brain’s interpretation of how hot the body is and thus allowing you to push yourself a bit more.
However, we are excited to share a new product with you that is going to be on The Feed soon and is certain to make an impact: CoolMitt.
This cooling device is a simple, easy way to make stark impacts on performance by lowering the core temp that affects how muscles can ultimately perform.
How would pros put this into action? In the warm-up for a TT, they'll use them while on the trainer to keep rising temperatures at bay. After TTs or scorching mountain top finishes, the Mitts will be helpful in pulling down the athlete's core temp as they try to recover and reset as fast as. possible...simply by throwing a hand or two into them. Lastly, pre-sleep; using them during the 30min prior to going to bed can help drop body temp and encourage high-quality sleep (reduction in core temp is a trigger for sleeping!).
While this wraps up our Part Three of Fueling the Tour de France, we’re eagerly awaiting the grand depart on July 1st where we can watch the action unfold! Keep an eye out for all those trends!