The Grand Velo Tours Training Guide
Are you interested in cycling the Tour de France, but not too sure where to start? Our cycling training guide is here to help!
The Grand Velo Tour is designed for experienced amateurs. You don’t need to have competed in races prior to this, you don’t need to have 10 years of cycling under your belt, you don’t need to have taken part in anything like this before.
In fact, it is unlikely that you would have ever completed something like this before.
We’re unique. We’re an adventure. We’re a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Cycling 3000km in 20 days, while traversing some of France’s toughest terrain is an incredible challenge -and one that will require some deal of preparation.
So whilst you don’t need to be a professional cyclist in order to take on this challenge; you do need strength, perseverance, resilience, endurance, and quite an impressive level of fitness.
Read our cycling training guide below for details on how to prepare.
The concept for our route is heavily inspired by the 1972 Tour de France, which was a clean and well-connected loop around the country’s best cycling areas. Our tour cyclists can expect rides through 13 beautiful national parks as well as the classic cols of the Alps and Pyrenees – such as Tourmalet, Ventoux, Galibier, Izoard, Alpe d’Huez, Madeleine, and Croix de Fer.
As organisers we have also made our own alterations to the route based on our years of experience. Riders will be taken on stretches and climbs throughout the course that, although lesser-known, are equally as breathtaking as the more celebrated passages of the original tour.
The route itself is also logistically straightforward, with each stage of the tour leading conveniently onto the next. With no transfer miles between cycling stages, the emphasis of each stop will be on resting, recovering, and relaxing with your teammates.
We wouldn’t want to deprive you at any point of sampling the local food and wine!
Please take note! While the route is beautiful and the stages conveniently set out, cycling the tour is demanding and will be a major personal challenge to experienced amateurs and club riders. Before attempting the tour all riders must ensure that they are fit enough to complete it.
Prepare Adequately and Train
Just like you wouldn’t run a marathon without training first, or swim in the Olympics without doing a couple of laps to warm up: you need to train for the Tour de France.
The greatest cyclists of all time would spend almost the entire year training for the competition and would dedicate as much time as they could to preparing themselves for the race.
Don’t worry, we don’t ask this much of you.
After all, you’re not competing against anyone but yourself and you’ll be riding in your own time. But we do ask that you spend at least the first few weeks leading up to the journey going for daily mountain rides to acclimate yourself.
Our cycling training guide recommends you starting your training at least 3-4 months before the start date of your tour.
During this time it is important to have structure in your schedule, to gradually increase intensity as the weeks go by, and to incorporate different training types into your overall plan. Having milestones to tick off can be an effective way of staying motivated and will give you stable reference points to fall back on should you lose track of your progress.
Don’t Overindulge On Local Cuisine
Tour de France cyclists burn on average 6,000 calories a day. As a result, they need to consume foods that will give them enough energy to do that.
Each Tour de France rider has a team of nutritionists behind them, ensuring that they’re taking in enough food and water to fuel the race. But what exactly is recommended to eat?
Carbohydrates will become your best friend. Muesli, bread, cereal, fruit, and juice are all the best bets for a healthy breakfast. Snacks throughout the day make sure you don’t fall into an energy deficit, and finally, at the end of the day, a large meal consisting of meat and more carbs will greet you.
Luckily for you, Grand Velo Tours takes care of all of this for you.
As part of our service at Grand Velo Tours, we provide evening meals that are carbohydrate-heavy and protein-rich. This combo is great in replenishing energy stores and we would recommend taking on similar nutrient-dense meals during your training.
But, our cycling training guide does recommend you avoid snacking on some of the heavier local cuisines.
As tasty as those croissants look, they’re not your friend. Eating too many of them will be harder for your stomach to digest, and will mean you start the ride already feeling bloated and heavy from breakfast.
Be Prepared To Push Through The Pain
This tour is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Not many people get to do it, and as such, you should make sure you enjoy yourself. But the tour will also require a lot from you, and you want to make sure that you’re physically prepared for the journey ahead.
The best way to do this? Build strength.
Although it is hard to find hill climbs in the UK that replicates the great cols of the Alps or Pyrenees, one can attempt the same hill multiple times in a ride and build leg strength through repetition. Otherwise, one could use an exercise bike and gradually increase the resistance to mirror mountainous areas.
Off the bike, there are plenty of exercises that will not only prepare you for the trials of a mountainous climb but also help prevent injury along with endurance rides in general. As part of our cycling training guide, we recommend:
Planks with position variations: 3×1 minute – core strength will improve stability and reduce the risk of back pain
Lunges while carrying light weights: 3 x 15 – these engage the main leg muscles used while cycling, including the glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings.
Leglifts: 3 x15 – These will target your hip flexors and stomach stabilizer muscles.
Burpees: 3×15 – These will help develop explosive power in your legs, perfect for those big pushes during mountain climbs
Box jumps: 3×15- similar to burpees, these will develop power in your legs.
Squats with light weights on each side: 3×15 -these will work leg, back and abdominal muscles giving you increased stability and controlled power in your pedal stroke.
Other weighted exercises to try include deadlifts, single leg squats and heel raises.
Get The Right Kit
Before setting off for the Tour de France you must be prepared to cycle in the best and the worst of conditions. In mountainous areas, it is not uncommon for the weather to switch between sun, rain, and snow all within the hour, and so even with a support van behind, it is your responsibility to be prepared. Our cycling training guide suggests that you bring with you the following:
Bring lots of light layers
Layering is the best way to manage body temperature when the weather changes. In mountainous areas, it can go from very hot to very cold in a short space of time, so it’s a good idea to have a selection of light layers that you can easily put on and take off.
Wear arm and leg warmers
Like other layers, arm and leg warmers let you quickly adapt to changing weather types while on the road. Covering your legs, arms and neck will help protect against harsh blasts of wind and rain but are also easy enough to take off in the heat.
Wear Fitted Clothing
Well-fitted layers are able to insulate by trapping air pockets close to your body, while looser clothing allows cold air to flap around your body and steal the precious warmth you’ll need during alpine descents.
Bring A Good Waterproof
A good waterproof is 100% worth the investment. A sudden downpour is always possible on the mountains and so something that is compact and easy to unpack is worth always having to hand.
Don’t Wear Anything For The First Time
If you have bought new kit for the tour, then we would heavily recommend wearing it out on a few rides in the weeks preceding. This way you can make sure that the fabric’s comfortable, well fitted, and doesn’t chafe.
Invest In High-Quality Clothing
The mountains are an unforgiving environment for poor-quality clothing. Invest in materials that are designed to last and you’ll feel the benefit when you’re on the road.
- Cycling cap
- Shorts/Bib shorts
- Base layers/leggings
- Arm/leg warmers
Hopefully this will have given you a greater insight into what to expect when completing the 1972 Tour de France route with us.
It may be a challenge, but it’s also an adventure.
And with the help of our team along with the encouragement of those cycling around you, it’s guaranteed to be the once in a lifetime journey we promise it will be!
If you too would like to experience the rush of adrenaline and incomparable achievement of completing the Tour de France, then take a look at our information page.
Grand Velo Tours offers cycling enthusiasts the chance to complete the 1972 Tour de France which Eddy Merckx won, alongside a group of equally as passionate and wonderfully enthusiastic friends.
If you would like to experience riding the 1972 Tour de France, then check out our About Us page! Grand Velo Tours offers rides through France with an amazing team of experienced cyclists!