No doubt you are cycling on a fairly regular basis –maybe 35 miles or more to a nice café and back. If you are training for the Etape du Tour it is worth having a strategy!


Feature Rides and standard rides

It is worth classifying your rides into standard rides and feature training rides. The standard rides are the regular rides you do, but feature rides place an emphasis on a particular aspect of your training: speed, distance, climbing or group riding.



You probably have a favourite route near you for the odd half hour or hour’s ride, maybe 10, 15 or 20 miles, preferably without traffic lights or frequent hold ups.

This type of ride is ideal for speed training. Record your average speed over the route, and strive to gradually improve it. A graph of speed from week to week is a useful incentive to increase your fitness.

On occasions, for variety, why not substitute interval training, riding flat out up to a particular speed, then easing off, then repeating. It is fun to see what peak speeds are achievable.



Distance training is more time consuming. Of course suitable distance targets depend on your present level (and the weather and time available). Distances may be progressively increased from ride to ride. A good target is to work towards a 100 mile ride in April. If you have not yet ridden a 50 or 60 miles in a day, now is a good time to do so. If you already have, then a 65 or 75 mile ride is a good target for March. If possible choose an interesting and attractive route, with suitable refreshment stops, and maybe a few hills.

It is instructive to continuously record a rolling average of your mileage for the last week.



As hills longer than 100 metres are rare in England, and hills over 400 metres are virtually non-existent, hill repeats are an alternative.

Starting with maybe 5 repeats of a 100 metre hill, work on increasing the number with each session. It is not as boring as it sounds if the hill is fairly scenic and traffic fee, with the right gradient (what is right the right gradient is up to you!)

Another alternative is to use a GPS device, or a cycle computer which records your altitude gained. This makes calibrated hill training possible on a variety of routes without repeating a hill, and gives you a feel for the amount of climbing you are doing on your regular rides.


If you are entering the Etape, it is well worth planning a trip to more mountainous areas if possible, maybe in April or May. As usual, we are running our Snowdonia trip on the early May bank holiday – email me ( to reserve a place. Places like Spain, Portugal and Italy offer superb climbing possibilities once the winter snow has left the mountains –so it is now a good time to book your holiday in the mountains!



Group Riding

Club rides, Audaxes, Sportives and rides with friends are all excellent ways of getting motivated, practicing group riding technique, and training yourself for the Etape. It is worth setting targets which are achievable, but which will stretch you



Cycling events are an obvious way to prepare for the Etape, as well as being a challenge in themselves. There are many Audax rides in all parts of the UK, which are designed to take in scenic areas. These make useful distance training events. The next, more competitive stage up is Sportives, an increasing number of which are organised in the UK, as well as overseas.


The weather so far this year should prepare us for a huge range of conditions on the Etape – so -

Enjoy your training!!