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Maybe you were a bit surprised by learning how much it takes to prepare a Grand Tour, when it comes to nutrition. If you haven’t read this yet, you can read the blog by clicking on the button at the bottom of this page. For sure, preparation for a Grand Tour is key, but you can’t win a race just by good preparation. Ultimately, its implementation in the Grand Tour itself is just as important in order to achieve great successes. What does a day in a Grand Tour look like when it comes to nutrition, and what do the riders actually eat?
Getting all details right can make the difference in sports performed on the highest level, especially because small errors can easily add up over time in a Grand Tour. Eating well in terms of composition and timing every day and in fact every meal therefore becomes very important. These are basics but basics are key! Without a frame you cannot cycle, right? In a Grand Tour this “frame” is built of energy balance and carbohydrate periodization. Our main focus is to keep all our riders in energy balance and well fueled over the entire Grand Tour. Maintaining that balance can be a challenge for both our riders and performance staff, since the energy needs can be astronomical!
How much energy a rider needs during one day in a Grand Tour? 6000-8000 calories are no exception. Of course, this varies per rider and per stage/day, but apart from rest days it will never be below 4000 kcal. Even on a rest day the riders expend more than 3000 kcal. For your reference, the guideline for normally active men is about 2500kcal, this means you will have to double up your intake on most days and on some days even triple this. And that for three entire weeks.
For our riders, part of the high energy needs is fulfilled on the bike itself; we will go into more detail about this blog part 3, but the rest of the energy should be taken during the hours off the bike. Since the riders spend so much time on the bike, there are fewer hours for our riders to consume these large meals. The chefs need to travel to a new location most days and then prepare meals that are much more calculated, weighed and portioned than the meals a “normal” chef will prepare. Each meal should meet the individual nutrient needs per meal moment for every rider, while at the same time taste and variation are key to making eating that much food for the rider still enjoyable. So, what is on the menu for a day in a Grand Tour?
Meal 1: fueling breakfast!
Breakfast is one of the key moments for our riders to fuel up for the stage that is waiting for them. Therefore, our chefs will always create a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates during a Grand Tour. Carbohydrates are a very important source of energy for our riders, to perform at the high intensity they need to. Two examples of breakfast on a hard day are:
EXAMPLE 1: LIGHT WEIGHT CLIMBER
- 275g of pancakes with sweet toppings
- 50g of bread with sweet toppings and cheese/ham
- 125g of (high-protein) yoghurt
- 100g of fruit salad
- 150ml fruit juice
- Coffee, tea, water
EXAMPLE 2: HEAVY WEIGHT DOMESTIQUE
- 550g of porridge (oats or rice)
- 140g of bread with sweet toppings and cheese/ham
- 2 eggs
- 125g of fruit salad
- 150ml fruit juice
After breakfast the carb-fueling does not stop. Our riders will take some more carbs. This can be a snack prepared by our chefs or soigneurs, like theTahini Banana Energy Cakes. On the menu: rice-cakes, pudding buns, home-made muesli bars or panini’s.
On the menu: the mountains or the sprinting stage, maybe an ITT and for sure a lot of NeverSecond sports nutrition. A detailed overview of our nutrition strategy and the intake of the riders will be given in the third blog of this blog series.
After crossing the finish line nutrition for recovery starts. This means drinking to rehydrate and consuming carbohydrates, to restore the energy stores in the body as soon as possible. In addition, protein plays an important role to support muscle recovery. The Neversecond P30 Whey Protein Isolate provides high quality source of protein that is very rapidly absorbed into the body, directly after the finish line. During the transfer to the hotel and during massage, our riders will have two personalized recovery meals that are made by the chef.
On the menu: A P30 Whey Protein Isolate shake and bottle of cherry juice (meal 4). Pasta or sandwiches, rice-salad, pancakes, sports adjusted cakes or pie… (meals 5 and 6).
After massages and maybe a nap for our riders, the chefs will make sure dinner is ready. Dinner is an important moment for our riders, not only to recover even more and to fuel up for the next day, but also to have a nice team moment together. The psychological component can never be forgotten. Riders should look forward to these meals and enjoy it together with their teammates.
On the menu can be: “healthy” pizza, pasta, gnocchi, potatoes, vegetables, stew… almost everything you can think off, but adjusted for athletes! During a Grand Tour, variety in the meals is super important.
If you think the riders had enough by now you are wrong. After dinner they get one more snack, before they go to sleep. This snack will mainly contain protein to support recovery overnight, and smaller amounts of carbs, because you cannot start fueling early enough.
As you probably have noticed by now, it is a lot of food that needs to be prepared day by day. As discussed in the previous blog: 125 sport specific meals plus extra snacks! Our chefs, nutritionist and soigneurs work closely together to create all this food and get them to the riders at the right moment. In addition, the nutritionist present at the Grand Tour plays a central role in personalizing nutrition for each individual athlete. The nutritionist also adjusts meals quickly when unplanned things happen such as a crash for example.
Constantly the individual needs are being calculated and recalculating to make sure all the riders are fed in energy and carbohydrate balance day by day. The nutritionist keeps the overview and coaches the riders and makes sure that implementation of specific nutrition strategies during the stage itself is successful. We will discuss this in more detail in our next blog. Cliché or not, but true for sure: teamwork makes the dream work!