Endurance and tempo for week 2 of the Tour de France Training Plan

You've made it through week no. 1 of the 2013 Tour; ride the race's second week at home, focusing on the transition terrain riders face in France

Editor’s note: This is the second of our Tour de France Training Plan installments for 2013. Get details for the plan and take on the race’s final two weeks here.

Congratulations on finishing the first week of the 2013 Tour de France training plan! Looking back at the previous week’s workouts, you should definitely be feeling some fatigue in the legs, so the rest day today is extremely important.

Rest day recovery tips

For today’s rest day, here are some recovery tips to ensure your body recovers properly and adapts to all the training you’ve done:
1. Sleep an extra hour and/or take a nap
2. Take the extra time to prepare a well-cooked nutritious meal
3. Schedule a massage or put your feet up. At the very least lay on the couch
4. Keep in mind that rest is when your body adapts to the training that allows you to get faster

The first week of your Tour de France training started with some threshold, sweet spot, over-unders (team time trial) and endurance workouts. To end the week however, you had two trying days in the Pyrénées with some full-gas efforts.

Stages 2 and 3 featured rolling terrain that forced many riders to put out threshold and supra-threshold efforts throughout the course of the stage. Even well-known climber Janez Brajkovic (Astana) had to put in some hard efforts on the climbs. On the last main climb of stage 2, Brajkovic needed to put out 342 watts (5.7 w/kg) for 34 minutes in order to stay in the main field. In the last couple of kilometers, Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard) foiled the chances of a bunch sprint.

Bakelants broke away in the final 2 kilometers and won the stage, pushing 510 watts (7.28 watts/kg) over a span of 2:15. This came at the end of a race that was nearly 4 hours long and featured some hilly terrain. Bakelants’ attack shows that you don’t have to produce massive power to win a Tour stage, but very good power applied at the right moment can lead to victory.

Stages 6 and 7 brought the peloton back to flatter roads and the chance for the fast men to make their mark on the race. In Stage 6, André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) was able to use his massive power to take the stage win. His teammate Jurgen Roelandts was one of the last men of his leadout train and had to do his own sprint in order to put Greipel in the best possible position. Roelandts only averaged 211watts for the stage, but in the last 2km he averaged 477 watts for 2:03 with a maximum power of 1,375 watts (17.81 watts/kg) for 8 seconds!

Now that the Tour moves into the west and northwest parts of France, endurance/tempo efforts rule the day. Make sure to make Tuesday an easy day to ensure your legs are recovered enough for the efforts on Wednesday. A time trial (threshold) workout on Wednesday will give you a good idea of your functional threshold power (FTP) from your wattage or heart rate data. Your threshold is the single greatest determinant of endurance performance and the greater your FTP, the greater wattage you can put out over the course of an hour. Your FTP also sets your zones and will help you complete your threshold workouts coming up this week.

Threshold intervals

The best way to perform these threshold intervals is by using wattage, heart rate, or feel, in order of preference. At 20.8km, with an average gradient of 7.5%, the Mont Ventoux climb on Sunday’s stage will be a threshold interval. Your power should be around 91-100 percent of your FTP. It will be important to properly pace this climb to ensure you don’t go out too hard and lose the ability to maintain proper pacing over the later part of the course.

If you don’t live in an area with mountainous terrain, such as Florida or Texas, threshold intervals are still possible. A stationary trainer is a good tool for making threshold power and staying cool. Flat roads into a headwind or riding a larger gear are also good ways to complete your intervals. Whatever your scenario, if you can make the power or do a hard effort, that is the next best thing to having a 20-minute climb nearby.

Good luck with the upcoming workouts this week, and stick to the structure as best as you can. The intensity of the workouts is the most important if you are short on available time. You do not need to train for five hours in order to mimic the stages of the Tour de France. Remember to fuel, hydrate, and recover properly at the end of each stage (workout).

Let us know if you have any questions regarding the training plan and keep the rubber side down.