2017 Tour de France Peleton taking it easy on a flatter stage…

Recovering while racing

You may hear some stages during grand tours being referred to as transition days, recovery days or a sprinters stage. These are usually flat with relatively straight forward courses (read that no cobbles or hills). A lot of the riders will look to recover a little during these as it may be a little time away from their regular duties.

The usual play on these days is for a break to go from the gun and for the bunch to cruise for most of the day before winding the break back in the closing kilometres. This was very obvious during several stages of this years Tour de France.

How to recover while racing

How do they do this you ask? Well it is probably better referred to as minimising any load or fatigue the stage will likely bring.

Here are some of the steps they may take:

  1. keep your nose out of the wind:
    • follow wheels
    • predict crosswind sections and position well for them
    • use “free trains” to move around the bunch, by following others
    • keep a position in the pack that has you sheltered – if you are the team leader, this may be provided by team mates
  2. keep aero:
    • choose aerodynamic gear, such as a speed suit, aero road helmet or shoe covers
    • when you find yourself in the wind, get low and aero to minimise effort and get sheltered fast!
    • See: Aerodynamics of Cycling Playlist on FitlabTV
  3. keep cadence easy (probably in the 90-100rpm range – not pushing a hard gear or spinning too fast)
  4. relax on the bike: loosen shoulders, relax grip, breath deep and enjoy the ride!
  5. eat and drink as per your race plan: see our blog post on during race recovery and nutrition
  6. be lazy: if in doubt of what to do, be lazy and think “what is the least effort possible?”