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Back to Basics – A Picnic of Bread and Pasta

By Jiri Kaloc

How did professional riders use to fuel their rides in the last century when there were no nutritionists to give them advice? They just went with instincts and ate what they considered most filling foods. So, maybe not by accident, the long standing tradition of fuelling with pasta and bread was started. Let’s look at how a modern cyclist’s diet compares.

Bread and pasta became staples

The beginnings of the Tour de France in the early 1900s were rough when it comes to nutrition. There were no specific food stops or pit crews, riders just stopped along the road to refuel with outside assistance. Well-to-do cyclists had their butlers set up picnics on the roadsides mid-stage if they could afford it.
When it comes to the choice of foods, it was very rudimentary. They just ate something they thought would fill them up. In France, that meant a traditional European carb-heavy diet of bread and pasta, something that is still popular today.


A balanced diet is a must

Nowadays we know it’s not just about the carbs. Pros make sure they have a balanced diet full of protein, carbs, and fats that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Also bread and pasta are often replaced by rice, potatoes, or tapioca – easier to digest foods.

Recipe: Whole-wheat sundried tomato pasta

If you do want the “back to basics” experience, there’s no better way than having a large plate of pasta waiting for you after a long ride. This recipe only takes 35 minutes to make and feeds a group of four. One serving size gives you 398 kcal, 22 g of fat, 48 g of carbs, 8 g of fibre, and 10 g of protein.



For the sauce

1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped (and drained from olive oil)
3 tbsp unsweetened almond / coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

For the pasta

230 ml whole-wheat linguine
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped (and drained from olive oil)
fresh parmesan, to taste


1. Cook linguine pasta according to the instructions on the box. Set aside.
2. Next, place all ingredients for the sauce in a blender. Blend well and set aside. If it seems a little bit thick, add a splash more almond / coconut milk or olive oil.
3. In a large sauce pan, heat a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil over medium/high heat and then add sliced onion. Sauté for a few minutes or until translucent.
4. Add pasta and sauce into the saucepan and mix well. Then, add in fresh basil and chopped sun dried tomatoes. Mix again.
5. Top with balsamic vinegar, fresh black pepper, and parmesan cheese.

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