Stage 9: Issoire – Saint-Flour (208km)
This is going to be a very hard stage, even though there are no huge mountain passes to climb. Instead, there is an endless succession of smaller climbs, punctuated by bigger Category 2 and 3 climbs. Days like this are sometimes harder than major climbing stages because there is very little time to rest between climbs, and riders who would normally get split off the back of the peloton in the high mountains have to dig deep to stay with the main peloton over these smaller ascents. Stage 9 is tailor-made for a breakaway to succeed. The yellow jersey contenders will likely be keen on conserving energy for the upcoming stages in the Pyrenees, and the rest of the peloton will be looking forward to the rest day tomorrow and probably won’t throw all their weight behind a full-on chase.
Today’s Workout: Since this stage occurs on a Sunday, it’s likely that you can get out for a longer ride than on a weekday. We’re going to take advantage of that additional riding time today. I want you to choose a 2-4 hour route that features rolling hills, and treat each climb as a separate interval. Bring your power or heart rate up to your SteadyState power or heart rate range (90-95% of Field Test power or 92-94% of Field Test Heart Rate or an RPE of 7-8 out of 10). At the beginning of the ride, this will feel relatively easy and you may feel like you could go harder. But it’s important to control your pace in the early climbs so you can go just as fast up the rolling hills at the end of the ride as well. And since you hopefully know your route pretty well ahead of time, focus on the final three rolling hills of the day and really charge up these final climbs as if there’s a finish line atop the final one. If you have a group of riding buddies who can join you for this ride, this would make for a great group training session.