How Has the Nutrition of the Peloton Changed – Iconic Meals

By Jiri Kaloc

There are many meals that could be considered iconic throughout the history of the Tour de France. Which ones have stood the test of time? We talked to a performance chef Hannah Grant who wrote The Grand Tour Cookbook to find out.

What would you say are the most iconic meals or snacks of the Tour de France?

For me, probably anything with chicken but I have done a few polka dot desserts that have become quite iconic.

Can you share the story behind that?

Back in 2012, one of my riders, Michael Mørkøv, unexpectedly won the polka dot jersey on a stage in Belgium and my sports director said, ‘Can you do a polka dot dessert for him?’ So, I made a Pavlova-style polka dot dessert and it has become very iconic, with people making it every year. It’s featured in my first Grand Tour Cookbook and, actually, it’s so iconic, that I made a new polka dot dessert in my newest book the Grand Tour Cookbook 2.

Can you share your favourite recipe that has become really popular among the cyclists you’ve cooked for?

Yes, I do a pretty amazing risotto, I call it the Grand Tour Risotto. It’s great for mountain stages as it’s a low-residue meal.

This gluten-free and nut-free recipe feeds 4 people. It takes 45 minutes to prepare and is rated as medium difficulty.

Grand Tour Risotto

Risotto with chicken and peas


  • 400 g risotto rice
  • 300 ml white wine
  • 1300 ml chicken stock or broth
  • 400 g peas, fresh or frozen
  • 3 onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 100 g parmesan
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Warm up the chicken stock.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or large pot over medium-high heat and sauté the onions and garlic until tender, without them taking colour.
  4. Add rice and sauté until covered in olive oil.
  5. Pour in the wine and let come to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Turn down the heat to just below medium, add 200 ml stock to the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Continue until all the stock has been absorbed and your risotto is soft, creamy, and delicious, with a little bite. It should cook for 17–20 minutes depending on how much bite you want.
  7. Add grated Parmesan and season with salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  8. Set the risotto aside.
  9. Finely chop the chives thinly.
  10. Warm the peas for 30–40 seconds until they are warm, cooked and still beautifully green.
  11. Mix half of the peas into the risotto and adjust, if necessary, with a little extra water or stock. The risotto should be so creamy that it flattens out when you shake the serving bowl.
  12. Toss the rest of the peas with lemon zest and a little lemon juice and serve in bowls. Optionally, top with a little extra grated parmesan and freshly ground pepper.

TIP: You can add flavourings, such as thyme, rosemary stalks, saffron or star anise to the stock when it cools to give the dish more flavour.

Serve the dish with fresh green asparagus.

And what was the most requested snack you’ve made for eating on the bike?

Rice bars, no doubt! Rice bars have become a staple food in the peloton. They are easy to make and can be varied in flavour as desired. You can make many variations, and they all start from the same basic recipe.

Legendary rice bars

Basic rice bar

  • 360 g sushi rice
  • 720 ml water
  • 1 tbsp white or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Bring the rice to a boil with the sugar and salt, turn down the heat, and let simmer, covered, for approx. 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.
  2. Fold in your desired flavourings and season with more salt and sugar to taste.
  3. Press the rice into a mould lined with baking paper. Make sure the bars are approx. 2–3 cm thick. You can also press half of the rice into a mould, top with a layer of filling, and then add another layer of rice, like a sandwich.
  4. Refrigerate the mould for at least 12 hours until the rice bars are firm. Cut into and pack them individually. You can keep them refrigerated for 4–5 days.


Peanut butter and jelly: Add approx. 30 g peanut butter and 30 g jam.

Chicken and parmesan: Fold small cubes of cooked chicken breast and 30 g of grated parmesan to the rice mixture. Add 1 tbsp. cream cheese to make it creamier.

Eggs and ham: Scramble 2 eggs with small cubes of ham, season with salt, and stir into the rice mixture.

Chocolate and banana: Mix 30 g of chopped chocolate and a sliced banana into the rice mixture. Add toasted, chopped nuts if you want a crunchy bite.

Sweet potato and cottage cheese: Add 50 g small cubes of baked sweet potato and 2 tbsp cottage cheese to the rice mixture. Add fresh herbs if you like.

TIP: Add fresh berries or small cubes of apple, pineapple, peach, and plums, raw or as a compote. Season with cinnamon or cinnamon fudge. You can also use my chocolate fudge.

Get creative and let me know if you come up with something genius!