Riders on the Auvergne stage face two main challenges: Repeated hills, and the distance. The stage is 130 miles long, so distance training is the key. Fortunately most of the climbs are modest in height, though a few of them are small mountains rather than hills. The majority of the gradients are not excessive – more the type of hill you would find in England rather than Wales.


The key training strategy is to build up your distance. Maybe you have done a 100 miler in April – if not, now is the time! If you have already achieved 100 miles, concentrate on building your distance up to 130 miles. Sportives and Audaxes are ideal, or you may prefer to ride alone or with a friend. A few good cafes along the way are acceptable alternatives to feed stations!


As you repeat distances, choose increasingly hilly routes to improve your climbing ability on long rides.


The Alpine Stage

The main difficulty in the Alpine stage, Modane to Alpe d’Huez, is the amount of climbing.


After reaching the foot of Telegraph, the route climbs 1000 metres with a gradient of 7% to Valloire, where there should be a food and water stop. This is followed by a further 1000 metre climb of 7% gradient to the top of Galibier


This is followed by a short mountain descent, followed by a long valley descent to the foot of Alpe d’Huez. The total descent is 29 miles long!


Finally, we climb Alp d’Huez.


Some of you will be wondering how to train for this if you live in Norfolk! It is, however quite easy to simulate this climb in terms of effort and endurance levels even on the flat.


To simulate Telegraph, Valloire and galibier all that is necessary is around an hour to an hour and a half’s high intensity effort, followed by a short rest, then another hour or so of high intensity effort. This simulates the climbing of Telegraph, the rest stop at Valloire then the climbing of Gallibier. This type of ride may be done on flat terrain.


Alpe d’Huez is slightly different. Rather than the fairly constant gradient of Telegraph and Galibier, it consists of a series or ramps interspersed with flat areas at the bends. Hill repeats are not bad training for the Alpe d’Huez climb, the only difference is the length of the rest on the bends of Alpe d’Huez is considerably shorter than that of hill repeats!