Le Tour 2019 - Stage 11


After yesterday’s rest day at Le Tour and a day off from the blog (!) today’s stage was a transition stage to take the riders to the Pyrenees for tomorrow’s stage. After Monday’s stage which turned the Tour upside down in the crosswinds, no one was going to be caught out today. There was the inevitable breakaway, a huge pile up taking out Niki Terpstra, and a sprint win for Caleb Ewan.

Yesterday, even on the rest day, the riders would have still gone for a ride — generally for a couple of easy hours. There’s a couple of reasons for this. While it’s entirely possible that there was the odd one or two riders who did no riding, it’s well known that if you have a complete day off in the middle of a multiple days racing or training, your legs can start to stiffen up and feel awful. Additionally, taking a complete day off can cause a small decrease in blood plasma volume, which would have a detrimental effect on VO2max and MAP. This may mean that your top end aerobic power is reduced a little. So, to counter all this, everyone goes for an easy spin for a couple of hours. This will keep everyone ‘fresh’ for the days racing.

Of course, this is stage 11 (but day 12 including the rest day) and fatigue will be present with everyone. They’ll have recovered a little after the easy rest day, but by the end of the day fatigue will be creeping back into the rider’s bodies.

Nutrition is an extremely important aspect of recovery, and of course fuelling the riders. It was interesting to see on TV coverage today that there are riders who are vegan (I briefly mentioned this the other day) - Simon Geschke. Having a vegan diet does tend to mean that you eat more carbohydrates, which are extremely important. It’s also quite possible to obtain sufficient protein on such a diet.

Tomorrow, will be the races second trip into the mountains. However, with a downhill run of around 30 km, it’s unlikely to shake up the GC too much. The stages following tomorrow should do that…

Richard Stern