Bizarre Bernal, Evenepoel loses KOMs, and what about Visma and UAE: Here's everything you need to know about the Tour altitude camps Cycling

Bizarre Bernal, Evenepoel loses KOMs, and what about Visma and UAE: Here's everything you need to know about the Tour altitude camps

Bizarre Bernal, Evenepoel loses KOMs, and what about Visma and UAE: Here's everything you need to know about the Tour altitude camps

With the Giro d'Italia completed, the focus shifts to preparations for the Tour de France. Numerous teams spent the three weeks of the Giro at high altitudes preparing for the upcoming grand tour. tells you who went where.

While in the past a preparation race and a few home training sessions were sufficient, today everything is much more scientific. Those who want to win the Tour de France generally have to make a lot of sacrifices. And that is no joke: three weeks at altitude, a few days at home, then the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour of Switzerland and then back to altitude again. A few days at home before the Grand Départ, and then it's go time. And that doesn't even include the recon rides...

Visma | Lease a Bike

The team that has elevated altitude stages to an art form in recent years is, of course, Visma | Lease a Bike. The Dutch formation won the last two editions of the Tour de France with Jonas Vingegaard using a proven recipe: altitude camp in Sierra Nevada, the Dauphiné as a test case, and then another altitude stage in Tignes before the start of the Tour.

This year is slightly different for the Dane, who suffered severe injuries in a fall in the Tour of the Basque Country and consequently did not participate in the first training camp in the Spanish mountains. Vingegaard is now back to training and has also cycled in Mallorca, but – just like for Wout van Aert – it is still unclear to the outside world what the exact plans are as we head towards July.

Five men from the intended Tour team – that was selected back in December – were indeed at altitude in the Sierra Nevada: Matteo Jorgenson, Steven Kruijswijk, Dylan van Baarle, Sepp Kuss and Tiesj Benoot. They explored some of the roads from the Tour de France gravel ride around Troyes and then immediately went on to Sierra Nevada, where they stayed for three weeks. Wilco Kelderman, Ben Tulett and Johannes Staune-Mittet were also part of the group. Jan Tratnik and Christophe Laporte are also originally scheduled to do the Tour, but they raced (or at least started) in the Giro.

Bizarre Bernal, Evenepoel loses KOMs, and what about Visma and UAE: Here's everything you need to know about the Tour altitude camps

Through Jorgenson's Strava, we get some nice insights into the work the team is doing. The American rode 2,422 kilometers and accomplished a whopping 58,524 meters of altitude gain. Like his teammates, he is now back home, ready to start in the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday.

UAE-Team Emirates

The top favorite for the Tour de France, of course, is Tadej Pogacar, and he is one of the few who did compete in the Giro d'Italia in recent weeks. And how! The Slovenian won six stages, the overall classification, and then left a few crumbs for the rest. His seven Giro lieutenants will normally be swapped for seven replacements for the Tour, who have already spent part of the past weeks at altitude.

From May 12 onwards, a week later than the Visma | Lease a Bike crew, Pavel Sivakov, Joao Almeida, Juan Ayuso, Tim Wellens, Nils Politt and Adam Yates were in the Sierra Nevada, while Marc Soler – the eighth Tour team member – became a father for the second time on May 13. Politt, Soler, Yates, Wellens and Ayuso should travel home on Wednesday and be racing again in Dauphiné on Sunday, while Almeida will take his chances in the Tour of Switzerland.

Pogacar takes a week off after his Giro victory, followed by Isola 2000 from Sunday onwards. There, the Slovenian prepares at altitude for the Tour de France. Leading up to the Tour, he will not be racing anymore. UAE-Team Emirates has decided that he will also not be seen in action in the Tour of Slovenia or the national championships.

Soudal Quick-Step

Remco Evenepoel is the third major favorite for the Tour de France and he is the first to actually prepare in Sierra Nevada. The Belgian of Soudal Quick-Step, who crashed in the Tour of the Basque Country in early April, just like Vingegaard, is now fully engaged in the manic preparation for his debut in La Grande Boucle.

With important lieutenants like Mikel Landa, Ilan Van Wilder, Cas and Yves Lampaert, who already showed his form last Tuesday in Gullegem, Evenepoel headed to Sierra Nevada. Exactly as planned on May 5th, just over a month after the break of his shoulder blade and collarbone. During his last weekend, he undertook a vigorous six-hour ride, covering exactly 5,206 altitude meters. "Higher than Snoop Dogg," Evenepoel jokingly noted in his post on the cycling platform Strava, showing that he was at an altitude of 3,045 meters.

On Sunday, Evenepoel will be at the starting line of the Critérium du Dauphiné, although he likely won't be focused on victory. After the French preparatory race, he will once again return to altitude for a while, followed by the Belgian national championship.


The upcoming edition of the Tour de France will start with the 'big four', with Primoz Roglic as the fourth man, racing on behalf of BORA-hansgrohe. The Slovenian also had to cancel his Walloon classics after a big fall in the Tour of the Basque Country, although that crash did not directly affect his Tour plans.

Together with Matteo Sobrero, Nico Denz, Bob Jungels, Jai Hindley and Aleksandr Vlasov, Roglic went to the Sierra Nevada, where he reportedly showed 'good things' according to his team. Moreover, Roglic is preparing for the Tour de France almost exactly as he did with his previous team, Jumbo-Visma, including a new high-altitude camp in Tignes after the Critérium du Dauphiné.

"Primoz won't get much time with his family," sports manager Rolf Aldag warned at the beginning of January in the presence of his team leader. But it is all for a good cause: both Roglic and (Red Bull) BORA-hansgrohe are going all in on winning this year's Tour de France.

INEOS Grenadiers

For years, INEOS Grenadiers was regarded as the measure of all things in cycling, but things have now reached the point that the British formation is heading to the Tour de France without an absolute top favorite. However, the slots this year seem highly coveted in the team's selection, where each of the candidates have already shown impressive things.

Geraint Thomas, after his third place in the Giro, is almost certainly participating, but for example, Thymen Arensman also stated in a conversation with that he aims for the double. Potential leaders Carlos Rodríguez, Egan Bernal and Tom Pidcock also showed great things, as well as important domestiques Laurens De Plus and Michal Kwiatkowski.

In terms of preparation, the team is a bit scattered though. Pidcock won the World Cup mountain bike race in Nove Mesto last weekend and was happy about his form after the race, following many long days on the road. In addition, the day after the race, he casually rode from Barcelona airport to his home in Andorra: a trip of 225 kilometers.

Bernal, in turn, is preparing in Colombia, where he (true to his style) again logged downright bizarre training weeks. In the week from May 20 to 26, he spent no less than 38 hours on the bike, pushing ahead for 1,081 kilometers and 20,562 altitude meters. The week before, he also racked up more than a thousand kilometers, part of it with teammate Brandon Rivera. A number of KOMs in the area of Bogota were broken as a result.

Rodríguez, De Plus, Kwiatkowski, Jhonatan Castroviejo, Ben Turner and Omar Fraile, among others, were training in the Sierra Nevada. The Belgian impressed friend and foe on the last day by taking a KOM from Remco Evenepoel, which was celebrated with a cappuccino upon his return to Belgium.


Those who wanted to see cyclists in action in May, were better off travelling to the Sierra Nevada than to the Giro d'Italia. Lidl-Trek, now also a leading team thanks to Lidl's budget, brought a large delegation to the Spanish mountain range. Just like during the winter training camps, the group is typically divided into two: climbers and flatter racers.

Team leader Mads Pedersen, however, is not among them, as the Dane is not a fan of altitude camps. "I don't want to sit on top of a mountain for three weeks, not seeing my family. And then race, which means not seeing them for another four weeks. That's two months in total. I'm too much of a family man to sacrifice that. I prefer to complete my training camps in Mallorca, in the sun, but not on top of a mountain. Even if I could gain two or three percent? I don’t give a fuck," he said about the matter when talking to last December.

With the slots at Lidl-Trek being highly coveted, the rest of the crew were indeed present. Giulio Ciccone and intended classification leader Tao Geoghegan Hart are normally certain of their spots in the selection, but others like Bauke Mollema, Tim Declercq and Toms Skujins still need to secure theirs.


It isn't just the big GC men going to altitude, but definitely also the sprinters. At Alpecin-Deceuninck, they have resolutely played this card for several years now, and it has paid off for them. The Belgian formation traditionally heads to La Plagne, where Mathieu van der Poel will also prepare for the Tour de France, as usual.

The Dutchman will not race again until the Grand Départ in Florence and will head to the French mountain village one week later than his teammates, due to a very busy spring and cyclo-cross season. Jasper Philipsen is already there, as well as at least Jonas Rickaert, Robbe Ghys and Silvan Dillier, while Axel Laurance (winner of the Tour of Norway) and Gianni Vermeersch (elbow fracture in Antwerp Port Epic) joined this week.

What else did we notice?

Nowadays, altitude camps are commonplace in the cycling peloton: just about all teams and riders do it before they start the Tour de France. The Sierra Nevada, French mountains, Italian peaks, the Teide in Tenerife: it's all commonplace in the cycling peloton to hit up these locations in preparation for the big goals of the cycling year.

Santiago Buitrago of Bahrain Victorious – which is on the road without Wout Poels – rode up Teide last Saturday, doing so no less than 1.20 minutes (!) faster than Remco Evenepoel, at an average power of 5.9 W/kg for 55 minutes. However, Strava's systems assessed the Colombian's attempt as such that it was excluded from the rankings, but for sure, he is very fit.

EF Education-EasyPost was the first team to race after the altitude camp, at Boucles de la Mayenne. The American team already showed there that the camp had paid off: Alberto Bettiol, who is fully focused on the Tour start in his home region of Tuscany, won the overall classification. Another portion of the team, including leader Richard Carapaz, is still at altitude. They use the Tour of Switzerland as a major test – and are one of the few teams to do so.

Jayco AlUla is not opting for a uniform approach. Michael Matthews showed his face at the Giro finish in Livigno and there was a reason for that: the Aussie was there on an altitude training camp, allowing him to be there to see his buddy Tadej Pogacar win. The non-start of Luka Mezgec after the second rest day was also related to this, while team leader Simon Yates, just like last year – when he did so successfully – seems to be throwing up a smokescreen. Dylan Groenewegen, the other team spearhead, is also at altitude now.

Israel-Premier Tech finished its altitude training camp in Isola 2000 on Tuesday, but on Wednesday, part of the selection will still race the Mercan'Tour des Alpes Maritimes as a testcase. The young American climber Matthew Riccitello already impressed with a KOM towards Isola 2000, while George Bennett also recorded some solid times uphill.

Groupama-FDJ also appears at the start in the French one-day race, with David Gaudu and Lenny Martinez leading the team. Tour leader Gaudu does so coming from Tenerife, where he took a large part of his men (including Valentin Madouas and Romain Grégoire). Dsm-firmenich PostNL was also on the island, with among others Warren Barguil and Oscar Onley. The latter took down a KOM from teammate Romain Bardet on his only public Strava ride.

Astana Qazaqstan Team leaves nothing to chance for the 35th stage victory of Mark Cavendish, who after a training block with his Greek trainer went to the Sierra Nevada with his lead-out. There he possibly met Arnaud De Lie and his Lotto-Dstny team, who after his failure on the Teide this spring are looking for a better high-altitude experience. Also, Steff Cras (TotalEnergies) hit the road several times in that area with men from the Belgian formation. The Belgian is recovering from his heavy fall in the Tour of the Basque Country, but based on his strong times uphill, he will be ready in time for the Tour.

Intermarché-Wanty went to Andorra without Biniam Girmay, but with Mike Teunissen and Louis Meintjes. Also, Uno-X had to do without Alexander Kristoff at the high-altitude camp in the Sierra Nevada. Similar to Mads Pedersen, he is not a fan of these types of training camps. In his rich career, the Bear of Stavanger, who achieved multiple victories in recent weeks, has never once gone to high altitude. Tobias Halland Johannessen, the other spearhead, is also on the mend after knee problems.

Movistar (Andorra) and Cofidis (France) kept their training sessions close to home. What that will yield in terms of race performance, we will find out in the coming weeks. Enric Mas is doing the Tour of Switzerland, while Guillaume Martin will start this Wednesday in the Mercan'Tour Alpes des Maritimes and then tackle the Critérium du Dauphiné. Decathlon AG2R wants to continue its good performances with Felix Gall in the Tour, prior to which they travel to altitude in the Sierra Nevada – just like Arkéa - B&B, which does not have a real classification contender this year – and the Dauphiné. Together with domestiques Clément Berthet and Nicolas Prodhomme, Gall racked up the necessary climbing kilometers.

Just one month to go until the start of the Tour!

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