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tour de france - The W1`nners' club

It’s a bad time at the moment.

Getting up early to watch people as they rush to get the bus or train every morning so that they can get to work on time fills you with a sense of partial relief that you don’t have to do it anymore – but your main concern is that you won’t be able to afford to go on the jolly boys outing with the footie lads / spa weekend with the girls (delete as appropriate) this year. Being unemployed is hard and it’s up to you to pull yourself together and get your life back on track.

Have you ever thought about winning the Tour de France?

You’ll get to ride around French mountain ranges looking like a banana on wheels for 23 days of the year. If riding across the Alps on a drop handle racing bike wearing nothing more than Lycra sounds like it could be a blast, here’s what you’ll need to do in order to become successful:

1.    Take performance enhancing drugs


………if you’re Lance Armstrong – everybody else will have to read on unfortunately.

2.    Understand what lies ahead


In order to win the Tour de France, expect to undergo a gruelling amount of training where you’ll have to develop power and stamina. You’ll also need several bikes, a coach, a sponsored team and you’ll have to put aside at least eight months to prepare for the event proper. Your biggest asset up The Pyrenees will really be your work ethic, a superhuman level of willpower and a clever race strategy. Remember that the Tour de France is ultimately a test of the human spirit rather than a bike race.

You’ll also have to:

1.    Get cycling


Whilst it can be difficult to really get to know the race as it changes every year, what you can know is that the Tour de France covers approximately 2,000 miles over 20 individual stages. Expect the lead to change hands on multiple occasions over the three-week race and understand that time bonuses and penalties will dictate your overall time. As you complete the last lap on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, it will be the rider with the lowest combined time who ultimately takes home the trophy – and gets to wear the maillot jaune (yellow jersey), so if yellow isn’t really your colour, consider coming second instead!

2.    ……but there are other colours besides yellow


It basically works like this: If you complete a single stage in the shortest time, you’ll wear the coveted Maillot Jaune. The King of the Mountain part of the course ie. overall best climber gets to wear a red-and-white polka-dot jersey. The most consistent finisher of all the stages who is often a strong sprinter, gets the green jersey for having the most points and the white jersey is donned by the top finisher under the age of 25. Think of it as a fashion show for people that don’t like spending too much time indoors.

3.    Get training


You’ll need to start in November to give yourself enough time to get in shape for July and your training should involve the following:

  • Development of your ability to accelerate quickly to high speeds. You’ll need to work on speed and endurance at least once a week. Try setting specific distances and tracking your times. You should also alternate rides at top speed with slower rides so that you can recover fully during training.
  • Development of explosive power and climbing stamina to prepare you for when the race moves into the harsh mountain passes. You should ride all the mountain stages relentlessly in the months leading up to the race. Studying the course as it approaches the finish line at each stage will also give you an idea of what strategy and tactics to adopt during the race itself.

4.    The race itself


  • You’ll need to be alert throughout and will need to be prepared to swerve to avoid being the cause of mass pile-ups which will undoubtedly make you very unpopular in the cycling community.
  • It’s of the utmost importance that you eat and drink regularly on the bike because your body only stores about 1,600 to 1,800 calories of energy in your body. You’ll have to consume 6,000 to 7,000 calories on a race day and more on particularly long and hard days. Lance Armstrong apparently used to get 70% of his energy from carbohydrates, 15% from fat, and 15% from protein – although it’s unclear whether or not these are just street names for Nandrolone!
  • You’ll be expected to work for your team’s star rider in every way possible. This may involve riding in front of him to reduce wind resistance or chasing down breakaway riders from other teams to ensure they don’t escape and gain valuable minutes – what you do to the opposing riders once you’ve caught them is governed by the rules which we suggest you read thoroughly so you don’t do anything silly!

Other bits to be aware of:

  • There’s a van that follows the race and picks up riders who have fallen so far behind that they’re unable to finish within the time limit for the stage. It’s known as the broom van and if you find yourself getting thrown into the back of this vehicle, it’s unlikely that you’ll win The Tour De France!
  • Prize money is about $2million so focus on that when you feel like bursting into tears as you cycle up The Pyrenees!


Good luck!


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