Stage 19: Modane – l’Alpe d’Huez (109.5km)
Stage 19 is almost half the length of Stage 18, which is good because there will be a lot of very tired riders in the peloton. But anyone with any energy will see this short stage as an opportunity to grab a stage win atop one of the most famous climbs in the history of the Tour de France. This is the last mountain stage, the last summit finish of the 2011 Tour de France, and that means it’s the last opportunity for strong climbers to gain time over men who will almost certainly beat them in the Tour’s only individual time trial (tomorrow).
The men who might have the hardest time on Stage 19 are the domestiques who want to be beside their team leaders as the peloton reaches the base of l’Alpe d’Huez. In order to isolate the team leaders, don’t be surprised if the pace on the early climbs is quite fast. The domestiques will then have to limit their losses on the climb and race down the descent and through the valley in an effort to rejoin their team leaders. And one they do, they’ll go straight to the front to drive the pace and set up the climbers for their final assault on l’Alpe.
Once on the mountain, the attacks will come quickly. L’Alpe d’Huez is hardest in the first few kilometers, making that the preferred territory to launch big attacks. But if those are reeled in, the climbers will have to keep attacking all the way to the summit because they have no other choice. There are no more mountains on which they can use their skills and power-to-weight advantage. Because of the attacks, the only people who have a reasonably steady effort up the final climb will be those athletes off the front or off the back of the yellow jersey contenders’ group. For everyone in the group, the climb will be a series of relatively short efforts at high power outputs, followed by equally short periods of steady tempo riding). To prepare for repeated maximal efforts and short recovery periods, PowerIntervals are a great workout.
The Workout: 1:30 EnduranceMiles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Steady Effort PowerIntervals. (Click for CTS Field Test Instructions)
How to do it: I prescribe two types of PowerIntervals: Peak-and-Fade and Steady-Effort. Today I want you to do Steady-Effort PowerIntervals. This means that instead of attacking to start the interval, you want to spend the first 30 seconds gradually getting up to the highest power output and pace you think you can sustain for the rest of the interval (each interval is 2 minutes total), and then stay there. Keep your cadence above 100rpm for the entire 2-minute interval. You can do these on flat ground or rolling terrain, and if you do them on a climb you can reduce the cadence to 90rpm. Recovery between intervals is purposely short, just two minutes. You’ll start the next interval before you feel fully recovered, especially toward the end of the set. Beginners should complete 6 intervals, intermediate riders should complete 8 intervals, and advanced riders should complete 10 intervals.