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When it comes to the Tour de France and any hilly stage race, the results will be determined by two types of stages: mountain stages, and time trials. From Joe Friel, author of "The Cyclist's Training Bible," learn how to climb like a Tour de France champion.
Climbing Like a Tour Riderby Joe Friel | July 2013
“You cant fake it in the mountains. Either you can climb oryoure dropped. Thats it. Bottom line."© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.
Too Much Mass?Gravitationally challengedWe werent all born to be climbers.The best climbers:● Are typically shorter and lighter than average● Tend to have 2.0 pounds per inch of height or less● For a 510" athlete, that would only be 140 lbs.● However, they dont do well on windy, flat courses or flat time trials wheregravity plays a small role© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.
What if youre not 2.0 lbs per inch?Its not all bad newsLets say we have two Cat 3 riders...Rider A Rider BWeight 140 lbs. 185 lbs.Height 70 in. (510") 74 in. (62")Mass 2 lbs. per inch 2.5 lbs. per inchThreshold Power 300 watts (2.1 w/lb) 360 watts (1.9 w/lb)© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.On a long hill climb: When both climb at their threshold, the one with a higher power output perpound will pull away.-RIDER A WINSOn a flat course: Gravity is not a significant factor but wind is. Success in the wind is determined bypower-to-frontal area ratio. When both riders are aero, theres only a small difference between smalland big riders. Raw power prevails; 360 watts beats 300 watts every time.-RIDER B WINS
How to Climb Faster
Reduce MassOne side of the power-to-weight ratioEvery kg of excess fat costs you 3seconds per km on a climb. So, losing11 excess pounds can make you 3minutes faster on a 12-km climb!Downsides● Losing weight mid-season candetract from recovery and training● Losing the wrong type of weight(muscle instead of fat) will hurtclimbing ability● Weight loss is best done during thewinter© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.
Build PowerWhat can you do right now to improve climbing ability?Build FitnessTheres more to climbing than just power and mass. If your muscles fatigue andyour lungs burn on every climb, youll lose ground. The most effective way tobecome a better climber is to build the right kind of power.“You can have the greatest power-to-mass ratio on theplanet and not climb for beans if you have horrible aerobic-anaerobic threshold fitness."© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.
Hill Cruise IntervalsA workout to improve climbing ability● Find a hill that takes 8-12 minutes to climb● Look for a 4-6% grade (about the same as an interstate overpass)● Do 3-5 repeats up the hill keeping your heart rate or power at threshold1● Recover only as long as it takes to descend● Do this workout 1-2x weekly● You will see measurable improvement in 6-8 of these workouts over a 4-6 week period1) Threshold HR or power is your maximum sustainable effort for one hour.© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.
TechniqueSeated or Standing?Larger-mass riders (2.3 lbs. per inch or greater)are generally better off staying seated on longclimbs.Smaller riders (2.0 lbs per inch or less)generally climb better standing.© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.vs
TechniqueCadenceKeep your cadence high even on steep climbs. This takes load off the musclesand increases aerobic-function loadPedal strokeImprove economy with efficient pedaling:● On the upstroke, keep heels slightly raised above the pedals, even whenseated on a climb● On the downstroke, drop your heels below the pedal© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.
MindsetYour attitude has to back up the training.● Work on whats going on between the ears every day● Remind yourself: Even if you are "2.5", your climbing will improve as aresult of all the effort youre putting into it.● Tell yourself you love the hills, and most importantly...● Believe!© 2013 TrainingPeaks. All rights reserved.
ResourcesFor more cycling training advice:Visit the TrainingPeaks blog: blog.trainingpeaks.comFor power data from the Tour de France:See TrainingPeaks race analysis: trainingpeaks.com/tdf