Spartan training, no KOM chasing, PowerPoint sessions, time trials, and heat training: How do you fine-tune for the Tour? Cycling

Spartan training, no KOM chasing, PowerPoint sessions, time trials, and heat training: How do you fine-tune for the Tour?

Spartan training, no KOM chasing, PowerPoint sessions, time trials, and heat training: How do you fine-tune for the Tour?

The Tour de France is just a few nights away, starting in Florence, Italy. Top contenders for the general classification have been putting the final touches on their preparations in various ways, but what exactly does that look like? Here’s a rundown of the 'fine-tuning' process for La Grande Boucle.

For the first grueling stages in Italy (or later in the Tour), everyone aims for the phenomenon of supercompensation. This involves balancing training and rest to achieve peak form. It's a complex puzzle that the performance teams at Visma | Lease a Bike, UAE-Team Emirates, Soudal Quick-Step, and BORA-hansgrohe have been meticulously working on all year.

The Dutch team Visma | Lease a Bike has had its fair share of challenges over the past few months, so the plans for the ideal Tour preparation went down the drain a long time ago. Despite this, the team has managed to assemble a highly competitive squad, including defending champion Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert, Sepp Kuss, Matteo Jorgenson, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman, Jan Tratnik, and Christophe Laporte.

Vingegaard is, of course, the man around whom everything typically revolves. The Dane completed the required training sessions in Tignes before the start of the Tour de France, where it was determined that he is ready for the race. "In the past weeks, he has shown what a champion he is, both mentally and physically. Of course, we don’t yet know how far he can go. We’re cautious about that, as he hasn’t been able to race and the preparation has been, to say the least, far from ideal. But he will be there, healthy and motivated," said sporting director Merijn Zeeman.

Kelderman had a good test as an important lieutenant in the Tour of Switzerland after being out of competition for three months. Another crucial climbing domestique, Kuss, had a bit more difficulty. Like many other riders, he fell ill and dropped out of the Critérium du Dauphiné, which impacted his preparation. For Kuss—and by extension, his team—it's fortunate that the most challenging stages are at the end of the Tour.

Matteo Jorgenson completed his preparation, which included a second-place finish in the Critérium du Dauphiné, around Nice on Sunday. "I actually wanted to go for the KOM on the Col de Braus, but the trainer changed his mind at the last minute. I'll just have to grab it in about a month," winked the American, referring to the passage of this climb in the penultimate stage of the Tour.

Continue reading below the Strava file.

Van Aert and Benoot had a successful Belgian Championship, as did Laporte—who withdrew from the Giro—at the French Championship. "Reassuring to be among the best again," said Van Aert. "This championship was a good test, but the Tour is at an even higher level. Still, I'm happy to be among the top riders again."

UAE-Team Emirates, of course, is the team of Tadej Pogacar, whom we haven't seen in action since the Giro d'Italia. The Slovenian prepared in Isola 2000—the finish of the nineteenth stage of this year's Tour de France—for the Tour de France, where his Tour teammates joined him. There was also time for necessary meetings with an eye on the Tour. "TDF 24 plan" was visible on the PowerPoint.

Continue reading below the photo.

tdf isola

From the eight-man team - which includes Pogacar, Joao Almeida, Juan Ayuso, Adam Yates, Pavel Sivakov, Marc Soler, Tim Wellens, and Nils Politt - only Wellens and Politt competed in the national championships. Successfully, as both claimed the time trial title in their respective countries against the specialists.

The Belgian spoke with Het Nieuwsblad about Pogacar's form after winning the national title in Belgium, noting that Pogacar had to leave the high-altitude camp earlier due to a family member's death. "Very, very, very good," Wellens emphasized. "A few days ago, we were still training in the mountains. His condition is phenomenal! I can tell you that my teammates are at a very, very high level. Impressive. But winning the Tour is not as simple as it seems. It's not always the strongest rider who wins."

Isola 2000 and Tignes popular destinations for Tour GC riders

Remco Evenepoel, the leader of Soudal Quick-Step, chose to skip the Belgian National Road Race Championship due to a cold. "It would be a privilege to defend the jersey and I'm not very sick, but I can't give my all if I participate. Therefore, we think it's better not to take too many risks with the Tour in mind."

Evenepoel was spotted on the time trial course of the Tour de France towards Gevrey-Chambertin a few hours earlier. He had also gone to Isola 2000 after the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he made his final preparations for the Tour de France just a stone's throw from Geraint Thomas and Laurens De Plus of INEOS Grenadiers. Evenepoel was put to the test by the Belgian on the final day of the Dauphiné, but Evenepoel hopes that the roles will be reversed in a few weeks.

Continue reading below the video.

Then there's BORA-hansgrohe's Primoz Roglic, who after his move from Jumbo-Visma to BORA-hansgrohe didn't make too many changes to his Tour de France preparation: once again, he went to Tignes, where he sometimes does morning runs around Lac de Tignes. This time, he could do so in his yellow Tour de France jersey.

On Wednesday, BORA-hansgrohe is organizing a major press event at the Red Bull Hangar at Salzburg Airport, where they will officially introduce Red Bull as their new sponsor (as well as new kit). The riders and management will also be present before traveling to the Tour start in Florence, Italy.

The riders have been following a Spartan schedule lately, as evidenced by a social media post from Nico Denz. "I've been away for 42 days for training camps and races, so I can finally sleep in my own bed before the German championship," wrote one of Roglic's domestiques.

Continue reading below the tweet.

INEOS Grenadiers gave their riders some freedom: De Plus and Thomas went to Isola 2000, Egan Bernal trained in Monaco after Switzerland, and Tom Pidcock stayed in Crans Montana after the WorldTour race to participate in the mountain bike World Cup. Why did he do this? The Brit wants to perform well in the first days of the Tour and wanted to work on his explosiveness this way.

How about the other (semi-)GC riders? Simon Yates and Chris Harper quietly prepared for the Tour on behalf of Jayco AlUla - or not, considering the climb times - while Romain Bardet took a heat training detour in the build-up to his last Tour. Promising riders like Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) and Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) signaled good form from Andorra on Strava, as we saw in the Critérium du Dauphiné. On the other hand, riders like David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek), like Sepp Kuss, were set back by illness. And Mathieu van der Poel? He prepared in Spain after the altitude training camp in La Plagne.

What all of this will mean in practice, we will see starting Saturday in the Tour de France. Bring it on!

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