You can see the pros racing on TV conquering gruelling climbs, dangerous descents, and long flat stages. Have you ever wondered what they do before and after a stage? Let’s take a look behind the scenes to see what a “workday” of a Grand Tour pro cyclist looks like.
Let’s look at a race day with a 12:00 stage start. The pros usually get up around 8:30 and have a breakfast. Breakfasts are a big deal because riders have to get in a lot of fuel to boost their energy reserves for the race. Their breakfast is typically built around a bowl of oatmeal with nuts, a large omelette, fresh fruit juice, and coffee. In case of a hard mountain stage, they supplement this with extra rice, pancakes, sandwiches, or a smoothie.
At about 9:45 they visit the physiotherapist and at 10:15 they get on the team bus to start their transport from the hotel to the stage start. They continue fuelling on the bus with a pre-race snack that usually consists of a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, energy bars, lots of water, and potentially another coffee.
After getting to the stage at around 11:15, there’s a team meeting on the bus, and sometimes media interviews. Finally, at 11:55, the pros line up at the start, nervously awaiting the starting pistol.
Racing is where the pros put all of their training to good use. Every rider has his own role within the team that supports the team leader. They have to execute the strategy for the day and react to their competitors on the fly. They also have to keep fuelling on the bike. Pros burn a crazy number of calories during hard mountain stages so they also eat a crazy amount of food to handle the blazing pace. They may eat as many as 6 energy bars, 4 rice cakes, 2 sandwiches, 2 gels, and drink more than 6 bidons of electrolyte drinks.
A typical stage takes about five hours, so let’s assume the riders get to the finish line at 17:00. The soigneurs are ready to serve them recovery drinks as soon as they arrive. Riders drink these while cooling down on turbo trainers or rollers. After that or sometimes during their cooldown, they give interviews. At around 17:40, the riders can finally take a shower and eat a recovery meal prepared by the team chef. This is usually a lot of rice and some chicken.
The team bus arrives at the hotel at around 19:00, and the pros visit their physiotherapist. The team dinner is served at around 21:00 and its composition depends on how hard the next day’s stage is going to be. It always contains a good source of protein, like salmon or a beef steak, and a vegetable smoothie, but the amount of pasta or rice depends on how much carbohydrate they need based on the nutritionist’s calculations. The pros often have an evening snack consisting of yoghurt with cereals, a handful of nuts, and a piece of fruit to keep fuelling their recovery. They go to bed around midnight.
Would you be able to handle such a schedule? You can find out with the Vuelta Fan Series powered by Rouvy. Start your day with the right breakfast. Go for a bus ride if you really want to be true to the experience. Prepare all the necessary energy bars and hydration for the ride, have a light lunch or a snack, and load up a stage from the Vuelta Fan Series. Don’t forget about proper recovery nutrition after you finish, and do some stretching if you don’t have your personal physiotherapist. How did that feel? Would you be ready to do it again the next day?