Stage 11: Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur (167.5 km)
Stage 11 is the last hurrah for the sprinters before they go to the back of the pack and suffer through the mountains. A breakaway will certainly go up the road and stay there for most of the day, but it will almost as certainly be reeled in as the HTC-Highroad, Garmin-Cervelo, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Lotto, and Vacansoleil teams work to set up their speedsters. Best bet: Mark Cavendish from HTC-Highroad. The final kilometers of this stage are flat and the run in is not terribly complicated, which means his well-drilled leadout train can roll at full-tilt. When they deliver him to the final 300 meters, he’s hard to beat. But if there’s one man who may be up to the task, look out for Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar. He’s already won a stage, and he’s hungry for more.
Thus far this year I’ve included HillSprints and HighSpeedSprints, and now it’s time for a workout that addresses the demands of sprinting from a long distance out from the line. When the pack comes into the final kilometer at break-neck speeds, the final surge for the line often begins early, like 300-450 meters from the line. But the kilometer or more before that point is also very fast and difficult. A lot of sprint workouts have riders cruise along at a moderate pace before accelerating, but that’s rarely what happens in an actual race. So today’s intervals start with a hard effort for one minute and then end with a 12-second sprint, which is more similar to what you’ll experience in a real race.
The Workout: 1:30 EnduranceMiles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Attacks. (Click for CTS Field Test Instructions) with PowerSprints.
How to do it: On a generally flat road, accelerate to a hard but sustainable speed (86-90% of your field test average power) and stay at this intensity for one full minute. At the end of a minute, jump out of the saddle and sprint for 12 seconds, or about 200-300 meters if you’re using landmarks instead of a watch. Recover for five minutes by spinning easily. Beginners should do five of these intervals, intermediate riders should do two sets of three of these intervals, with eight minutes of easy spinning recovery between sets, and advanced riders should do two sets of four intervals with 8 minutes of easy spinning recovery between sets.