Stage 1: Passage du Gois – Mont des Alouttes (191.5km)
With no prologue or time trial to release the tension that’s been building over the final few weeks before the Tour de France, Stage 1 will be a wild affair. Riders are excited by the prospect of winning the first stage and taking the yellow jersey, and others are nervous because the Tour de France is the sport’s biggest stage. The tension in the peloton will be palpable, and with the course right along the coast, strong on-shore winds could wreak havoc with the riders. Don’t be surprised if the number of crashes during Stage 1 seems excessive, especially if it’s a windy day.
From a competition standpoint, one of the primary stories of Stage 1 will be the new points system being used for the Green Jersey Points Classification. Gone are the days when intermediate sprints were worth 6, 4 and 2 points across the top three riders. Now the intermediate sprint will be worth 20 points and the top 15 riders will receive points. There are still more points available at the finish (40 for winning and fewer points for the rest of the top 25 finishers), but this new system means that the intermediate sprints will have a much bigger impact on the overall green jersey standings.
But the biggest story of Stage 1 will be the finish, because the stage winner will pull on the coveted yellow jersey. It’s an uphill finish, which tilts the advantage away from the pure sprinters (Mark Cavendish, Alessandro Petacchi) and in favor of more dynamic finishers like Thor Hushovd, Philipe Gilbert, or Fabian Cancellara (who has a knack for grabbing the yellow jersey in the first week).
Today’s Workout: 2:00 EnduranceMiles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with HillSprints. (Click here for CTS Field Test Instructions)
Lots of races feature a relatively flat road leading into an uphill finish. You have to make the transition from riding fast on flat ground to going uphill, and then you have to sprint. This is a very specific demand, and it’s not completely addressed by sprint workouts on flat ground or workouts aimed at improving your sustainable climbing power.
How to do it: A short a steep hill works best for these sprints. Make sure there’s some flat ground before it, though, because that’s where the interval starts. Ride at a moderate- to high speed (18-20 mph) on flat ground, make the transition to riding uphill and continue up the hill at a challenging pace for 20 seconds. Now jump out of the saddle and sprint for the next 15 seconds! Think of each interval in three parts: ride, surge, sprint. Beginners should do 2 sets of 4 sprints, intermediate riders should complete 2 sets of 6 sprints, and advanced riders should complete 3 sets of 5 sprints. Take 4 minutes of recovery between sprints, and 8 minutes recovery between sets.