Vive le Tour!
It’s almost that time again: long mornings filled with coffee, pancakes, and the familiar voice of Phil Liggett. While there are a few races that rival the difficulty of the Tour de France, there are none that match it in magnitude. This three-week challenge unfolds across the French countryside, ancient historic towns, and high-altitude mountains as the best cyclists in the world get after it.
Now, we are excited to unveil a series of articles on The Feed | Insider tailored to Le Tour and how athletes and teams are fueling its demands. The first one is focused on what products can be seen at the race and how they’re implementing them.
What are some of the best teams in Le Tour using?
INEOS Grenadiers: Science in Sport
UAE Team Emirates: Enervit
Israel - Premier Tech: Maurten
How would they fuel for a stage?
Overall goal: 80-120g/carb an hour. Yes, I said 120g/carb and hour. Some of these riders have trained themselves to be able to handle a (previously thought) extreme level of carbohydrates.
Depending on the specific demands of the stage, how they receive this fuel can vary. For longer flat stages, where the workload for the general rider will be lower or more gradual, they may consume more homemade rice bars, small pastries, paninis, and other “real food”.
However, on difficult and demanding mountainous stages, the riders will opt for simple, mostly liquid forms of fuel to avoid any gut issues and optimize fuel intake. They need to be consistent but flexible in their intake, as three weeks is a long time to pound an insane amount of food.
A typical day in le Tour hovers around the 5hr + mark…some longer and some shorter. With that in mind, an athlete is working to not only fuel the efforts to come later in the day but also late in the race as the days wear on. It’s crucial to stay on top of it because one mishap or lazy fueling day could dig a hole you can’t come out of.
“As such, the golden rules of ensuring adequate carbohydrate intake in breakfast (e.g. 2-3 g/kg body mass), on the bike (80-120 g per hour) and immediately after the race (e.g. 1-1.5 g/kg per hour) are critical to promote fueling and recovery” (Science in Sport). We’ll touch more on the day-to-day feeding strategy in the coming article…
How do they do it?
On a flatter day, riders may aim for per-hour fuel like:
- 1-2 x bottles (one medium-carb like C30, Maurten 160, Isocarb and one hydration-focused)
- 1 x bar, homemade snack, or pastrie.
On a demanding or mountainous day, riders may aim for per-hour fuel like:
- 1 - 2 x bottles per hour (one high-carb like C90, Maurten 320, or Betal Fuel and one hydration-focused)
- 1-2 x 25-40g gel an hour (Maurten Gel 100, C30 Gel...)
This is a very basic template using those products, but it shows you the variety of ways that riders can tinker with their fuel to get the carbohydrate/calories needed.
Additionally, the Maurten Solid bar is the new go-to bar for Tour riders with 44g of carbs, easily digestible ingredients, and a delightful taste. Many teams are ordering them in droves to use this year as a complement to their plan.
For Tadej, a two-time Tour winner, the Enervit Liquid Energy Gel is also a go-to with a whopping 30 grams of carbs; it is easier to take while going 55 km/h on the flats or while climbing as you drink it down.
These elites focus on carbs per hour, just as our Feed Fueling Formula explains. They allow the meals around the race to take care of those macro and micro-nutrient needs, where protein and fat can be much more bioavailable to them.
What does a typical day of feeding look like for these athletes? That is up next on The Feed | Insider.