Stage 20: Grenoble Time Trial (42.5km)
There’s nothing easy about a 42 kilometer time trial at the Tour de France, but this one is especially tough. Many times there’s a relatively flat stage between the final mountain stage and the final time trial. This year, the riders go directly from finishing atop l’Alpe d’Huez to racing a time trial the next day. The transition from big climbs on the road bike to smooth and powerful efforts in a time trial position can be quite difficult. Nevertheless, this final time trial may decide the overall winner of the Tour de France, either with a great ride to defend the jersey or a storming ride to gain enough time and take it off another rider’s shoulders. In almost every recent Tour de France, the man wearing the yellow jersey in the final time trial holds onto it at the end of the day, but there have been notable exceptions. In two of Greg Lemond’s three Tour de France victories (1989 and 1990), he gained enough time to come from behind and earn the yellow jersey.
The most suitable workout for today is a time trial of your own. Forty-two and a half kilometers is equal to 26.4 miles. Find a course or map a course using MapMyRide.com, give yourself at least 30 minutes to warm up for your effort, and then ride your course as fast as you can. The key to a successful time trial is pacing. You want to go out fast, but not so fast that you fatigue too much in the final 10 kilometers. Everyone will slow down in the final 10km, and the winner is often determined – not by who goes fastest in the first 10km – but by who slows the least in the final 10km. Try to minimize fluctuations in your power output or effort level; because every time you hammer up a short rise you’re going to have to slow down to recover from that effort. If you have a few buddies who can join you, run it like a real time trial and start in two-minute intervals.