Tour training plan

Experience the Tour de France by completing your own version of the race

Train with the Tour this July. Follow along using FastCat Coaching’s one-month program.  View Larger
The 2014 Tour de France is approaching quickly, but if your name isn’t Peter Sagan or Andrew Talansky, you probably didn’t make the team to race the Grand Boucle. You do, however, have the chance to complete your own Tour de France with the 2014 FasCat Tour de France Training Plan.

The Tour de France training calendar is set up to mimic the physiological demands and terrain of the 2014 Tour through intervals of varying intensities and durations.

For the opening week’s sprint stages, you’ll do a sprint workout after an endurance ride. During longer mountain stages in the Pyrénées and Alps, the interval program will represent each stage’s number of climbs. Those intervals’ intensity will depend on the tactical situation. Ride tempo and sweet spot on the big mountain climbs/intervals, but go as hard as you can up the final climb to a mountaintop finish. On days with multiple categorized climbs, GC favorites will ride just below threshold (tempo and sweet spot) on the first climbs, then go full-gas (“FG!!” on the calendar means to go as hard as you can, just like the GC riders), on the mountaintop finishes, where the race is decided.

For flat transition days between mountain stages, the GC riders sit in and recover as much as possible. Therefore, if you are going for GC, treat transition stages as endurance and recovery days. Conversely, if you are going for stage wins, chose one or two stages that suit your strengths and attack.

Key stages to circle on your calendars:

— Stages 5 and 16 involve intense VO2 and anaerobic capacity workouts ranging from 1 to 3 minute intervals. The GC isn’t won on these days, but it can be lost. If you are hunting stages, these are the days for you.

— Stages 14, 22, 23, 24, and 26 are very important GC days. These stages include multiple mountain passes, mountaintop finishes, and/or long time trials. Any aspirations of wearing the yellow jersey in Paris center on these days. Bring your A++ game — you’ve got to turn yourself inside out if your target is yellow.

Download your three-week Tour de France training plan at

Calendar codes of stages

HM: High mountain stage
M: Medium mountain stage
H: Hilly stage
F: Flat stage
ITT: Individual time trial

The calendar shows the finishing city of each stage next to the date. On your training rides, try to mimic the stage as much as possible. Obviously, if you live in Florida or Texas, finding alpine climbs is impossible. You can still obtain the physiological benefit of zone 4 training by power output, heart rate or good old fashioned feel and rate of perceived exertion. Watch the Tour live in the morning for inspiration, then head out after work for your own Tour stage workout. Don’t worry if you are short on time; follow the intervals’ structure for a condensed real world simulation. If you can ride long on the weekends, go for it!

How to ride in the sweet spot

Sweet spot is a training term and intensity you will frequently see in this training calendar because Tour de France riders will do a lot of sweet spotting. To ride in your sweet spot, adjust your pace between medium and maximal, in a zone you’d call “medium hard.” By power or heart rate, sweet spot is between 83 and 97 percent of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). To do the GC threshold workouts in Stages 8, 11, 15, 17, 18, and 19, simply go as hard as you can. If you have a power meter, you can use it to pace yourself between 91 and 105 percent of your FTP, or even more if your form is good.

Video: More on sweet spot training

If you’d like to determine your FTP by power and/or heart rate, we recommend a field test. A good time to test would be the Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday before the Tour starts. For optimal results, take a rest day before your field test.

Video: More about conducting a field test

Overall, it’s a lot of riding. Work, family, and other commitments can make completing every workout a challenge. Even if you can only ride for one hour, perform the intervals and try to balance your time so that you can consistently ride each stage. It’s better to ride for one hour each day rather than three hours one day a week. Set a personal goal for your own Tour because improving as a cyclist is all about setting goals and working toward them. Following this Tour de France training plan will give you a goal to accomplish for July and some insight into what it’s like to ride the Tour de France.

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