The food diary of a Tour De France participant
The Tour De France runs for three weeks, over 3,351km, with 21 stages. The 218 cyclists who have taken part this year will accumulatively burn over 25 million calories. So what sort of fuel do they need leading up to, during and after the race?
Before a stage
Most Tour De France riders usually aim to eat around three hours before a stage. They need to focus on building up their carbohydrates and protein at this point so look to eat bread and pasta, Greek yoghurt and eggs. Riders tend to avoid pastries and other heavier foods as these are very slow to digest and can make the rider feel uncomfortable.
Riders will often have a light snack just before the race along with plenty of fluid. This is usually something like rice cakes, protein bars and bananas.
Typical choices include:
- Muesli & cereals
- Fruit & vegetable juices/smoothies
- Greek yogurt
- Smoked salmon
During a stage
Every stage of the race is different which means riders need to adopt different refuelling strategies based on that particular stage. If a rider is facing a challenging stint, their bodies will rely on their carbohydrate stores which means they will need to consume energy gels and bars to keep them on top form.
Riders will struggle to deal with solid foods while on their bikes, so most of the foodstuff they consume at this stage will either be small and easy-to-eat or in gel form.
Typical choices include:
- Caffeinated energy gels
- Small jam rolls
- Rice cakes
- Energy bars
- Small sandwiches
- After a stage
Riders are encouraged to eat immediately after a stage is over to ensure they kick-start their recovery from the outset. They need to focus on consuming carbohydrates, protein and sodium. This is to help repair damaged muscle, replenish glycogen stores and quickly rehydrate. Their snacks will generally consist of 25g of protein, recovery drinks and often sandwiches, rice cakes and cereal bars.
For their evening meal, Tour De France participants are treated to a meal cooked by two top chefs who ensure that their meals are full of everything they need to recover and replenish their energy. A typical meal could include salmon in soy sauce with rice and a side salad or quinoa, chicken and roast vegetables. If they fancy dessert this is typically fruit or yoghurt.
Riders can eat as much as they like at this time, they simply need to focus on getting the right calories into their bodies. Every meal typically includes meat, carbohydrates and vegetables.
Whether you’re a cycling professional or an enthusiastic hobbyist, it’s important to account for a variety of factors to ensure the safety of you and your bike. At Watkin Davies we’re not experts in nutrition, but we can help you get your insurance right. To speak to a member of our friendly team about getting the right cover for your bike, call us on 02920 626 226.