So, it turns out you didn’t make the 198-rider startlist for this year’s Tour de France. You can still get a three-week tour in your legs, however, with the FasCat Tour de France training calendar.
Our Tour De France training calendar is set up to mimic the physiological demands of the 2013 Tour by matching the Tour’s terrain and stages to intervals of varying intensities and durations.
For the opening week’s sprint stages, your workout will be a sprint workout after an endurance ride. During the longer mountain stages in the Pyrénées and Alps, the number of intervals and durations on the calendar represent the number of climbs where the intensity of those intervals depends on the tactical situation. You’ll ride tempo and sweet spot on the big mountain climbs/intervals but go as hard as you can up the final climb to a mountaintop finish. On day with multiple categorized climbs, the GC favorites will ride just below their threshold (Tempo and Sweet Spot) on the first climbs, then go full-gas (FG!! on the calendar means to go as hard as you can go, just like the GC riders) aka threshold on the mountaintop finishes, where the race is decided.
For the flat transition days between mountain stages, the general classification riders will sit in and try to recover as much as possible (barring crosswinds). Therefore, if you are “going for the GC,” treat these transition stages as endurance and recovery days. Conversely, if you are going for stages, choose a stage or two that suits your strengths and let it all hang out. Your local group ride throwdown is a great opportunity to channel your inner Sylvain Chavanel.
Key stages and workouts on your calendar
There are six critical, straightforward GC stages in this year’s Tour: 8, 11, 15, 17, 18, and 19. Two are time trials and four are mountaintop finishes. Bring your A++ game to these workouts/stages. If you want to win, you’ve got to turn yourself inside out as hard as you can! Any aspirations of the yellow jersey in Paris revolve around these days.
For the mountaintop finishes such as stage 18’s double trip up the Alpe d’Huez, you are going to climb the first ascent at Sweet Spot for 25 minutes and the second ascent as hard as you can, also for 25 minutes, as if you’re a GC contender. Non-GC contenders should complete each climb at a Sweet Spot intensity to conserve energy.
For the time trials, Stage 11 will be a traditional time trial-specific threshold workout: 2×20 minutes as hard as you can, with only five minutes’ rest between intervals. If you can, complete this workout on flat terrain at a steady effort just like TT world champion Tony Martin will do in Mont Saint-Michel. Stage 17, however, is a very different type of TT: two climbs and two descents make up this stage. Full-gas 12 minute efforts are required on the two hills, with nearly complete recovery on the descents! We mimic this by doing 2x12min intervals with six minutes of recovery between.
To download your three-week Tour De France training plan, click here
Calendar codes for stages
HM High Mountain Stage
M Medium Mountain Stage
H Hilly Stage
F Flat Stage
ITT Individual Time Trial
Choosing terrain, even in the flat lands
The calendar shows the finishing city of each stage next to the date. On your training rides, try to mimic the stage as much as possible by terrain. Obviously, if you live in Florida or Texas, finding alpine climbs is impossible. You can still obtain the physiological benefit of Zone 4 training by power output, heart rate, or by good, old-fashioned “feel” and rate of perceived exertion. Watch the Tour live in the morning for inspiration, then head out after work for your own Tour stage workout. Don’t worry if you are short on time; follow the structure of the intervals for a condensed real-world version. If you can ride long on the weekends go for it!
How to ride in the Sweet Spot
Sweet Spot is a training term and intensity that you will see frequently in this training calendar because the Tour de France riders will do a lot of sweet-spotting. To ride in your sweet spot, think of adjusting your pace between medium and as hard as you can, in a zone you’d call “medium hard.” By power or heart rate, sweet spot is between 83 and 97 percent of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). To do the GC Threshold Workouts in Stages 8, 11, 15, 17, 18, and 19 simply go as hard as you can. If you have a power meter, you can use it to pace yourself between 91 and 105 percent of your FTP, or maybe even more if your form is good!
More on Sweet Spot training >>
If you’d like to determine your FTP and ride Sweet Spot by power and/or heart rate, we recommend a field test. A good time to test would be the Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday before the Tour starts. For optimal results, take a rest day before your field test.
More about conducting a field test >> Video >>
Overall, it’s a lot of riding. Understandably, work, family, and other commitments can make completing every workout a challenge. Even if you can only ride for one hour, perform the intervals and try to balance out your time so that you can consistently ride each stage. It’s better to ride for one hour each day rather than three hours but only one day a week. Set a personal goal for your own Tour, because improving as a cyclist is all about setting goals and working towards them.
Following this Tour de France training plan will give you a goal to accomplish for July and some insight into what it’s like to ride the Tour de France.
For more information about this training program and to inquire about coaching, camps, bike fits, exercise physiology testing and powermeter sales please visit www.FasCatCoaching.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.