With the Tour de France already in full swing, loaded decided to get the inside track on goings-on among the runners and riders competing for road cycling’s greatest prize.
Featuring plenty of the best-kept secrets from life on the Tour, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the Tour de France
Some of the most knowledgeable fans are in…
Pau, along the northern edge of the Pyrenees mountains. Why? They immediately recognize all riders, not just the stars, and know the key victories of nearly everybody in the peloton.
“Fans aren’t simply important, they are the essence of the Tour de France! There would be no race without the hundreds of thousands of people that line up the course each and every day, that cheer all riders, regardless of the team, that come to the team hotels and wait for hours and hours to see their idols for a few seconds and take a photo or have an autograph.” Bora–Hansgrohe
Teams’ favourite cities along the route are…
Paris, for it means teams have made it to the finish line! Roubaix, and its famous pavé, is another popular choice.
“It is difficult to pick only one town or city along the Tour route. Every town is beautiful in its own way, has its own history and people who come out to cheer for the peloton. Should we pick one, though, we look forward to paying a visit in Roubaix, the end destination of stage 9, a city located in the Northern France that has become iconic for hosting the final of one of the greatest cycling races on the calendar, The Hell of the North, the Paris-Roubaix. No less than five times have our team tamed the famous pavé and lifted the cobblestone-shaped trophy in Roubaix.” Quick-Step Floors
The perfect meal for a rider…
Varies from stage-to-stage. Whether the next day’s racing brings a mountain stage or a flat stage, the team chef will adjust meal plans accordingly. To meet the energy demands of a Tour de France stage, riders need, on average, 6,000 calories per day. This explains why they must eat regularly during the day, which the chef has to account for.
“The team’s chef, together with the nutritionist and the coaches, draws a plan for the three weeks of racing in order to make sure all riders receive the necessary calorie intake while eating fresh and healthy food. Dinner typically starts with a salad or smoothie and is followed by meat, fish or chicken. Riders need to eat lots of carbohydrates, so there is always either rice, potatoes or pasta. The evening meal always concludes with a healthy, fruit-based dessert.” Bora–Hansgrohe
Some of the best ‘treat’ foods riders can enjoy…
Make a nice change from the carb-heavy diet they must rely on throughout the Tour. Each team’s riders have a different indulgence they allow themselves. Whether it’s wine gums for Lotto-Jumbo, pizza for Bahrain-Merida, Haribo gummy bears for Bora-Hansgrohe, or jam tarts for UAE Team Emirates – it’s not all pasta and vegetables!
For others, it can be a meaty temptation they crave…
“One of the meals which the riders particularly loved last year were burgers prepared by our chef. After the race the riders also enjoy some nuts and candy.” (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
The best artist to listen to when getting ready for a stage is…
Jimi Hendrix! As listened to by Team Sky and Trek-Segafredo. Ed Sheeran was another popular choice – who knew?
The team bus playlist is controlled by…
The bus driver! Whilst some teams let their riders choose what music is played onboard, several of them (Astana Pro, Team Bahrain, Trek-Segafredo) give DJ responsibilities to the bus driver.
The most important piece of tech is…
“No Grand Tour is complete without it!” Trek-Segafredo
Arguably the best headphones are…
B&O Play (as chosen by Quick-Step Floors).
“B&O’s design and sound quality matches perfectly with our vision of being a leader in the bunch at all levels. With the headphones, the riders can get into the zone, excluding the outer surroundings and focus on the beats of the music, their breathing and on their mental and physical presence before they have to give all of themselves on the road.
“If our riders could bring five items to a race, I’d guess 90% of them would use one pick to bring the B&O headphones – or the mobile speakers, which we have on the bus.”
The biggest technological advance in cycling over the last 10 years is…
The Rocket Espresso machine on the team bus, according to Bora-Hansgrohe. Eight-time Tour de France stage winner, Peter Sagan, has no less than four of them at home.
Caffeine aside, the aerodynamics of the modern bike trumps everything else.
“We have seen many important technological advancements over the years: cycling clothing like shoes, helmets, bibs and jersey are one category; radio communication, cycle computers and powermeters are under another category. But the single, most crucial improvement is probably the bikes. Today, the bikes are more aerodynamic, while at the same time they have become lighter and stiffer – and as we know #aeroiseverything.” Quick-Step Floors
The best way to recover after each stage is…
Drink, eat and sleep!
“The amount of sleep required depends on the rider, but mostly between 8-9 hours. They drink their Vifit recovery Shake, cool down on the Tacx and have a good recovery meal in the bus.” Lotto Jumbo