JUNE TRAINING HINTS
This year’s Etape du Tour is not lacking in climbs! After the flat section alongside Lake Annecy, if you are not climbing at around 5% you will probably be descending!
The big challenge is the last climb - Seminoz – with a 1000 metres of around 10%! Not quite Mount Ventoux, but a considerable challenge nevertheless!
The most important focus for your training is therefore climbing. To train for most of the Etape, fairly gentle hills are perfect, with gradients of around 5%. The longer the hill the better! It is possible to find suitable hills in the UK . Long rides are the best preparation – maybe 60km (or 40 miles) of this type of terrain is a fair simulation of the first half of the Etape. Revard is, of course, a climb of around 1000 metres, but its gradient is not excessive, so extending your ride to 80 km (50 miles) goes some way to including the climb of Revard. Longer rides will bring you nearer to the effort required.
Simulating the ascent of Semnoz in the UK is much more difficult. An hour on the turbo trainer working at say 200W is probably fairly near the mark. If you only have flat roads around you, riding at speed for an hour will require a similar amount of effort, as will ascending shorter, steeper hills several times. If it is convenient to visit a mountainous area on the continent, this is even better.
This Etape, like most of them, requires a good level of endurance.Long weekend rides interspersed with 1 hr of intense riding during the week is a good formula for increasing endurance and power. The reparing, rebuilding and fitness gains happen mainly while you are resting between rides, so days off riding are a good idea!
Weekday sessions are a good oportunity to improve you speed. If you have a favourite cycling route near you, recording your average speed each time you ride it is a good spur to improvement.
People who have tried this year’s route tend to put a high value on pacing – optimising your speed on the early parts of the route while retaining enough energy for the final heave up Semnoz!
This is worth practicing, especially for the flat section between the foot of Revard and the start of the Semnoz climb.Riding with a group of 5, if you took equal turns at the front, you would save 40% of your energy for 80% of the time! On fairly flat roads, not only will you be riding faster, but you will also be saving energy. During the Etape there are so many riders that you are bound to find a group going at the right speed for you to slipstream (though fair sharing is much more difficult to organise!)
Slipstreaming is particularly valuable on the flat stretch between the foot of Revard and the beginning of Semnoz as is will help you save energy for the last climb!
Enjoy your training!