How Do Professional Cyclists Train for Grand Tours?

In order to take part in demanding Grand Tours, professional cyclists need to carry out exhaustive training programs. Only by doing this can athletes overcome summit ascents, countless hours on the bike, time trials, and sprints for several weeks with little rest in-between.

In this article, we will go over some of the key aspects that teams and riders must follow to be successful during their preparation stages.

Extensive Planning and Training

Any team planning to have their riders compete in a Grand Tour needs to plan out a detailed calendar that can see athletes arrive at races in the best form possible. This includes establishing which races they will be joining throughout the year.

For instance, it is not accidental that many of the top contenders at the French Tour run major stage races or one-day classic races in the months before the event.

As an example, leading up to his win at the 2021 Tour de France, Tadej Pogačar, who is already priced by cycling betting to win the event again at odds of 5/4, ran and finished first at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia.

Additionally, training relies on adapting to different terrains and orography. It is not the same to cycle 150 kilometers through the plains of Holland or Belgium and the Alps.

Aspiring Cyclist Does Not Have to Do the Same Training

A cyclist who aspires to run in Grand Tours does not have to do the same training as an aspiring cyclist at the Belgian classics. For instance, cyclists that specialize in mountain stages need to perform high-altitude training to be able to perform at their best in environments with lower levels of oxygen.

Moreover, this is why all professional cyclists structure their training seasons in hours and not kilometers. In fact, cyclists never train the same distances they run in competitions.

It is very rare for them to exceed 200 km during training, and in no case do they train the distances of the great classics (which can come close to 300 km).

This comes as a result of recent practices within the cycling world as, two decades ago, it was common for cyclists to run 40,000 km per season. Currently, most cyclists amount to roughly 30,000 km, demonstrating once again that they prioritize quality over quantity.


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    Taking into account Grand Tours’ extreme nature and intense heat, teams need to prepare recovery cycles to avoid riders falling ill or suffering from muscle pain.

    This can come in the form of ice baths or extensive massage sessions but is also achieved by following strict diets in the months before the races and during the events.


    On long days, professionals tend to have consistent breakfast before training and can ingest 5 to 10 bars or gels during races. This is complemented by restoring energy levels during cooldown: eating carbs, white meat, vegetables, and drinking lots of water.

    Ultimately, the preparation for Grand Tours isn’t exactly tougher than any other cycling event, but it does require more detailed planning of the year ahead.

    However, it is important to highlight that any professional cyclist, either taking part in three-week races or not, is required to follow a training plan similar to the one detailed above.


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