The Time-Crunched Tour de France

Workouts from Carmichael Training Systems

Main Page Header Image

Use these workouts to improve your training, avoid spoilers – or both.

And be sure to bookmark this page so you can come back to these workouts throughout the length of the Tour: www.powertap.com/21workouts



Jump to Stage:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21


Stage 1: Utrecht to Utretch (13.8km)

Neither a prologue nor a long test against the clock, the Stage 1 Individual Time Trial is long enough for the GC contenders and time trial specialists to rise to the top of the leaderboard, but it's also short enough that a sprinter or rolleur could pull off a stunning ride and snag the yellow jersey.

From a workout perspective, this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate a field test into your training. A field test helps you establish a baseline for your fitness and enables you to set your training ranges for power and/or heart rate. At CTS our field test consists of two 8-minute time trials separated by 10 minutes of easy spinning recovery. Download Complete CTS Field Test Instructions and Intensity Calculations. For the purposes of the workouts in this program we will prescribe the interval intensities based on this field test. There are other field tests out there, including a popular 20-minute time trial. Here’s why we use the 2x8-minute test and how it compares to the 20-minute test.

The Workout: CTS Field Test



Stage 2: Utrecht to Zeeland (166km)

This is a stage everyone wants to get over with. The first road stage of the Tour is chaotic, regardless of the weather conditions. Everyone has fresh legs, a full tank of motivation, and head full of dreams. But not everyone can be up front, especially when the roads get narrow and the wind rips in from the sides. The final 40km are along the ocean with three exposed dikes. If the winds are high the peloton is likely to rip itself to shreds. While it's probably going to be an exciting stage and there may be a GC contender or a sprinter caught out by a crash or field split, the stage is tailor-made for a sprint finish.

Therefore, today's workout is a sprint workout. Tour de France sprints not only reach really high speeds, they start from really high speeds! It takes more power to accelerate from 30-35mph than it does from 25-30 because air resistance increases exponentially with speed. So, if you're training to sprint at high speeds you need to train with sprints starting from a high speed.

How to do it: Sprints are always performed at 100% maximum output. On a slight downhill, you should be rolling along at a high speed (25-30mph depending on your stage of development) in a large gear. With your hands in the drops, jump out of the saddle and accelerate. Upon reaching top speed, return to the saddle and focus on holding your top speed the entire length of the sprint interval. Maintain good form, and focus on maintaining high pedal speed in a smooth and efficient form for the entire sprint. These sprints should be 20 seconds in length, and full recovery between sprints is very important to allow for rebuilding of ATP in the muscles and to ensure a quality sprint workout. Normally, 10-20 minutes allows for enough recovery before adding another sprint to your workout. Pedal speed is high for these sprints, 110+ RPM.

The Workout: 1:00 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power).

Specific Task: 8x 20second High Speed Sprints. Recover with spinning your legs in endurance zone for at least ten minutes between sprints. Advanced riders can add 2 more sprints for a total of 10. Your HR is not applicable here because the duration of the sprint is not long enough, Power is 100% output for the 20 seconds.



Stage 3: Antwerp to Huy (157km)

This entirely Belgian stage of the Tour de France is going to look a lot like a Spring Classic, except for the warmer temperatures and green leaves on the trees! Instead of April, we're going to see the pro peloton charge up the iconic Mur de Huy to the same finish as La Fleche Wallonne.

The Mur de Huy is a beast of a climb, with an average grade of 9.6% and reaching nearly 20% at its steepest. Even at the end of a 157km stage, the leading riders will climb the 1.3-kilometer ascent in less than 4 minutes. All-out efforts between 1-4 minutes are powered significantly by your VO2 max system. To train this important energy system you have to complete repeated maximal efforts with short recovery periods.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Power Intervals. Click here for CTS Field Test Instructions.

How to do it: Power Intervals are one of the simplest workouts we use, and one of the hardest. They are simple because it's just an all-out effort. You go as hard as you can for the duration of the interval, and since they are short (2 minutes in this case), your heart rate is likely to climb all the way through the interval. This means heart rate is a difficult measure to use in determining your intensity level; you have to go as hard as you can at the beginning and hold on as long as you can. If you're using power, your output should ramp up over the first 15-30 seconds of the interval to the highest output you can sustain for the remainder of the interval. This may be 150+% of your Field Test power, but even if it falls over the course of the interval, it should always remain higher than your field test power. On a scale of 1-10, these are a 10.

Keep your cadence above 100rpm for the entire 2-minute interval. Recovery between intervals is purposely short, just two minutes. You generate a tremendous amount of lactate during these intervals, and 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.  



Stage 4: Seraing to Cambrai (221km)

Cobblestones in July! The fourth stage of the 2015 Tour de France is not only the longest of the race, but it features just over 13 kilometers of cobblestones. Everybody will be fighting to be at the front before these sectors of rough stones, because no one wants to be caught behind a field split or a crash. In the 2014 Tour de France, the foundations of Vincenzo Nibali's overall victory were significantly bolstered by his strong performance on a wet and muddy day featuring cobblestones. The potential for risk and great reward will not be lost on any GC contender today.

Success on cobblestones, or any rough surface like gravel or sand, comes down to traction and momentum. You can maximize both by pushing a heavier gear when the going gets rough. This taxes the leg muscles a bit more than a higher cadence in a lighter gear, but that's the price you pay for a quicker trip over the cobblestones. It's also a style of riding you can train for.

The Workout: Endurance Miles 1:00 hour (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with 5x5minutes Muscle Tension Intervals

How to do it: This workout should be performed on a long, moderate (5-8%) climb. Pedal cadence must be low (50-55 RPM) and the heart rate intensity is not important (because your legs are moving slow, your heart rate will be low). Large gears (such as 53x12-15 up hill) are required to produce the low cadence and high muscle tension. Correct form must be strictly maintained during these intervals. Strong concentration is needed to keep your upper body smooth yet relaxed while concentrating on correct pedaling form (push over the top & pull through the bottom of the pedal stroke).  



Stage 5: Arras to Amiens Metropole (189.km)

The serpentine route of today's stage means riders and directors are going to have to be very attentive to breakaways, chasing groups, attacks, and opportunities. And although it's possible that this stage will be won by a breakaway, it's more likely that the sprinters' teams will find a way to bring the front of the peloton back together with their speedsters in tow. As a result, today's a good opportunity for another sprint workout!

Earlier in this array of workouts you did High Speed Sprints. Today we're going to do Flat Sprints. The main difference is that the starting speed is more pedestrian, 15-20mph instead of a high-speed downhill start. You're going to have to get up and accelerate against a big resistance to get the gear moving at maximum speed in a short sprint!

The biggest mistake people make when performing sprint workouts is that they do not give themselves enough time between sets to actually recover and produce a maximal effort time and time again. If you put these sprints too close together you change the workout to a different energy system, more of an over/under style workout instead of creating the big neuromuscular adaptations we are looking for.

How to do it: Sprints are always performed at 100% maximum output. On flat terrain, you should be rolling along at a moderate speed (15-20mph depending on your stage of development) in a light gear. Jump out of the saddle, accelerating the entire time, then return to the saddle after a few seconds, focusing on maintaining high pedal speed with smooth and efficient form for the entire sprint. These sprints should be 8-10 seconds in length. Full recovery between sprints is very important to allow for rebuilding of ATP in the muscles and to ensure a quality sprint workout. Normally, 5-10 minutes allows for enough recovery before adding another sprint to your workout.

The Workout: 1:00 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with eight 10-second Flat Sprints

  1. Warm up easy spin for 20 minutes
  2. Begin each sprint interval as described above, sprint for 10 seconds
  3. Ride easy for 5 minutes between sprints


Stage 6: Abbeville to Le Havre (191.5km)

Lumpy is how the riders and commentators are likely to describe Stage 6, and riding predominantly southeast along the Atlantic coast could mean a lot of wind on top of the hills. The finale doesn't get any easier, with a 7-percent grade hill that tops out just about 500 meters from the finish line. Fans of the Spring Classics will remember the old finish of the Amstel Gold race, atop the Cauberg. This finale could be similar, favoring neither a sprinter nor a climber, but rather a strongman who can put in a huge acceleration on the hill and hold on to the line after the road levels off.

Accelerating as you climb a hill is a skill and an art form. If you get it right you hit the summit at full speed and have the power to keep going. If you use too much energy too soon you crack before the top of the hill and get passed. And if you're too timid with the acceleration you'll simply get left behind. A Hill Acceleration workout is a great way to get some practice and gain the acceleratory power to become a real threat in uphill surge finishes.

The Workout: 1:00 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Hill Accelerations. (Click for CTS Field Test Instructions)

How to do it: Find a hill that takes 2-3 minutes to climb. Approach the climb at a moderate speed (13-16 mph). As the road starts to go uphill, bring your intensity up to about 90-95% of your field test power output in the first minute, and then increase to 95-100% of your field test power in the second minute. As you get to about 30 seconds or 200 meters from the top of the climb, accelerate to maximum power and speed so you're sprinting up to and over the top. Beginners should do two sets of three intervals, intermediate riders should do two sets of four intervals, and advanced riders should do two sets of six intervals. Take 5 minutes of recovery between intervals and 8 minutes of easy spinning recovery between sets.



Stage 7: Livarot to Fougeres (190.5km)

Time is running out for the sprinters and their teams. The flat stages are coming to an end and there will be a lot of incentive to make sure Stage 7 ends in a bunch gallop to the line. While that means an attentive day for the sprinters themselves, it also means a long and strenuous day for the pace-setter domestiques on the team. Once the breakaway has been established, riders from the yellow jersey team and the sprinters teams will send riders to the front to control the pace and keep the breakaway to a manageable distance. Riding on the front of the peloton for hours on end is a specialized skill, one that domestiques train for.

Maintaining a steady pace at the front requires a big aerobic engine, because riding at lactate threshold for that long would be too taxing. As a result, domestiques develop the “diesel engine” aerobic power to sit on the front with extremely long Tempo intervals. There's nothing sexy or even all that interesting about Tempo intervals. They're long and pretty boring, but they are a cornerstone workout for endurance cycling.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with two 20-minute Tempo intervals. Intensities for Tempo intervals: HR: 88-90% of Highest Field Test Average. Power: 80-85% of Highest Field Test Average

How to do it: Pedal speed should be low. Try a 70-75 RPM range while staying at the prescribed heart rate or power intensity. This helps increase pedal resistance and improve neuromuscular recruitment. Also try to stay in the saddle when you hit hills during your tempo intervals. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the tempo workout with as few interruptions as possible - tempo workouts should consist of consecutive riding at the prescribed intensity to achieve maximum benefit. Pros will do 2-hour Tempo intervals, and amateurs should try to progress from this 2x20min set to a 1x30min interval and then 1x45min, etc.



Stage 8: Rennes to Mur de Bretagne (181.5km)

Probably the last chance a sprinter or Classics-type rider will have to snag a stage for a while in this year's Tour de France, Stage 8 will again see the teams of the sprinters and GC riders jockeying for position in the final kilometers. There's a climb to the finish, but it's not particularly steep, so winning the stage is likely to happen through a series of accelerations rather than one strong jump.

Having to accelerate multiple times in a short period, with little to no recovery, is quite common in cycling. It happens in criteriums, mountain bike races, cyclocross races, and even local group rides. That's why a workout like Speed Intervals is a good one for all cyclists to incorporate into training. The workout below is a modification of the normal Speed Intervals we use, and this one is more geared toward developing the acceleration for a strong finishing surge.

The Workout: 1:00 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Linked Speed Intervals:

How to do it: One Linked Speed Interval is actually a series of three sprints, separated by 30 seconds of steady riding. The first sprint (all of which are 12 seconds long) should be in a 53x17, the second in a 53x15, and the third in a 53x13. In other words, you're going to start with a sprint, then sit and pedal at high speed for 30 seconds, then shift and sprint again, sit and pedal at high speed, and then sprint one more time. If you don't have those exact gear combinations, it's not a problem. The concept is to do the first sprint in a relatively light gear, the second in a bigger gear, and the third in an even bigger gear. Beginners should do a total of three Linked Speed Intervals, separated by 5 minutes of easy spinning recovery. Intermediate riders should do two sets of three Linked Speed Intervals and advanced riders should do two sets of four, with 5 minutes recovery between each and 12 minutes recovery between sets. You should start your first sprint of each effort from a speed of about 15 mph, and then return to about 20 mph for the 30 seconds before the next sprint. After the second sprint, return to 20+ mph before the third and final sprint.



Stage 9: Vannes to Plumelec (28km)

The team time trial is one of the hardest – yet most beloved (by fans, at least) – disciplines in cycling. Every rider on the team has to give 100% to the team effort, and the team's time for the stage is taken on the fifth rider across the finish line. That means you might have the Tour's strongest time trial rider or overall yellow jersey favorite, but on this day you're only as strong as your fifth rider. There's a tremendous amount of strategy that goes into riding a good team time trial, from rider order to how long each rider spends at the front of the line. You also have to plan ahead for potential disasters, like a crash or a flat tire: who will the team slow down, who will they deliberately leave behind, etc.?

At only 28 kilometers, the team time trial in the 2015 Tour de France would not normally lead to massive time gaps, but this year there's a climb to the finish so the pressure will be on the 5th man to stay with the team to record a good time. With a lumpy course before the final climb, a team that falters will pay a hefty price.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Time Trial Intervals. Alternative workout: Hard group ride with a super-fast paceline, like your own team time trial!

How to do it: After a good warm-up, perform six-minute intervals at your time trial race pace. One of the keys to developing the ability to ride a fast time trial is to ride at your goal power and pace for shorter intervals and then shorten the recovery times between intervals until you can complete the entire distance/time at your desired pace. Your intensity for these intervals should be about equal to the heart rate and power output you recorded during your CTS Field Test. If you haven't done the field test yet, each interval should be feel like a 9 on a scale of 1-10. Keep your cadence above 90 rpm during your efforts. Recovery between each interval is only three minutes of easy spinning. This is going to be a hard workout, but it's the most effective way to improve your ability to race a fast time trial in competition. Beginners should complete four time trial intervals, intermediate riders should complete five, and advanced six intervals.



Monday, July 13th: Rest Day

Rest days are a crucial part of any training program, and since the Tour de France is taking a rest day today, so should you. A rest day doesn't just mean a day without a training ride; it needs to be relaxed day during which you minimize exertion, eat well, focus on hydration, and go to bed early. For the riders at the Tour de France, however, the rest day won't be quite as relaxing. Success in a Grand Tour depends on routine, and the riders' bodies are accustomed to spending time on the bike every day. To maintain the rhythm of the race, they will go out for a ride that is not as hard as a Tour stage but is not entirely easy, either. They will typically go out as a team and ride for about 2 hours, including a few periods of moderate to intense riding.  



Stage 10: Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin (167km)

A mountain-top finish the day after a rest day is always a tough ask for the pro peloton and today's finishing climb starts out quite steep, meaning those first few kilometers will be a great place for attacks and surges!

There is nothing about the long climbs in the Pyrenees that is steady. These climbs are all about accelerations and changes in pace. Training to hold one steady and sustainable pace on climbs is a good starting point, but to be successful in a competitive environment you have to be able surge above your sustainable power or pace and then recover while still climbing.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Over Under Intervals.

How to do it: Over Under Intervals are a more advanced form of Steady State (SS) Intervals. The "Under" intensity is your SS range, and the "Over" intensity is your CR range. By alternating between these two intensity levels during a sustained interval, you develop the "agility" to handle changes in pace during hard, sustained efforts. More specifically, the harder surges within the interval generate more lactate in your muscles, and then you force your body to process this lactate while you're still riding at a relatively high intensity. This workout can be performed on a flat road, rolling hills, or a sustained climb that's relatively gradual (3 to 6 percent grade). It is difficult to accomplish this workout on a steep climb, because the pitch often makes it difficult to control your effort level. Your gearing should be moderate, and pedal cadence should be high (100 rpm or higher) if you're riding on flat ground or small rollers. Pedal cadence should be above 85 rpm if you're completing the intervals on a gradual climb. Recovery periods between intervals are typically about half the length of the work interval. Note: A more advanced version of this interval would alternate between SS and PI intensities instead of SS and CR intensities.

The parameters of the Over Under (OU) Intervals are written as: 3x12 OU (2U, 1O). This should be read as follows: Three intervals of 12 minutes. During the 12-minute intervals, the first 2 minutes should be at your Under intensity (2U). After two minutes, accelerate to your Over intensity for one minute (1O), before returning to your Under Intensity for another two minutes. Continue alternating in this manner – in this example you'd complete 4 cycles of Under and Over – until the end of the interval. Spin easy during the recovery period before starting the next interval.

Beginners: 3x9 OU (2U, 1O), 5 minutes easy spinning between intervals. Intermediate riders: 3x12 OU (2U, 1O), 6 minutes easy spinning between intervals. Advanced riders: 3x15 OU (2U, 1O), 8 minutes easy spinning between intervals.

Training Intensities for Over Unders: HR: 92–94 percent of highest average heart rate from CTS Field Test (Under) alternating with 95–97 percent (Over). Power: 86–90 percent of highest average CTS Field Test power (Under) alternating with 95–100 percent (Over).



Stage 11: Pau to Cauterets-Vallee de Saint-Savin (188km)

Any stage that features the Col d'Aspin and Col du Tourmalet is going to be a hard day in the saddle, but the nature of Stage 11 may lead it to be an anticlimactic finish. The descent off the Tourmalet is long and allows dropped riders to rejoin the front group, and the final climb of the Cote de Cauterets probably isn't steep enough or long enough to cause a big shake-up in the overall classification. It's more likely that an opportunist will take the stage while the big names for the yellow jersey finish together.

Expect to see a lot of steady-pace climbing during today's stage, since there isn't a huge incentive for the GC riders to put their cards on the table with big, aggressive moves on a stage where those tactics aren't likely to yield big returns. To gain the power for long and steady climbing, good old Climbing Repeats are the name of the game.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power).

Specific Task: Beginners should complete four 6-minute intervals. Intermediate riders should complete three 10-minute intervals, and advanced riders should complete three 15-minute intervals. Intensities for Climbing Repeat intervals: HR: 95-97% of highest average heart rate from CTS Field Test. Power: 95-100% of highest average power from CTS Field Test.

How to do it: This workout should be performed on the road with a long steady climb. The training intensity is 95-100% of the highest average power from your CTS Field Test, or 95-97% of the highest average heart rate from the CTS Field Test. These efforts are very similar to a Steady State interval performed on flat to rolling terrain, but the intensities are slightly higher to reflect the increase in muscle engaged while going uphill. Since more muscles are being used, more blood is required for these muscles, hence a higher heart rate. Pedal cadence for Climbing Repeat intervals should be 80-85 RPM, but you can increase the cadence if necessary for maintaining your power output. It is very important to avoid interruptions while doing these intervals. Focus on continuous riding for the length of the prescribed interval. Recover with easy spinning – not just downhill coasting.



Stage 12: Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille (195km)

Anyone feeling the sting of yesterday's climbs will definitely be dreading today's stage. With three big ascents before a finale on the monster climb of Plateau de Beille, this is the showdown stage for the Pyrenees. Because the final climb will be hotly contested and should feature a lot of accelerations, we're going to do Over Under Intervals again.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Over Under Intervals.

How to do it: Over Under Intervals are a more advanced form of Steady State (SS) Intervals. The "Under" intensity is your SS range, and the "Over" intensity is your CR range. By alternating between these two intensity levels during a sustained interval, you develop the "agility" to handle changes in pace during hard, sustained efforts. More specifically, the harder surges within the interval generate more lactate in your muscles, and then you force your body to process this lactate while you're still riding at a relatively high intensity. This workout can be performed on a flat road, rolling hills, or a sustained climb that's relatively gradual (3 to 6 percent grade). It is difficult to accomplish this workout on a steep climb, because the pitch often makes it difficult to control your effort level. Your gearing should be moderate, and pedal cadence should be high (100 rpm or higher) if you're riding on flat ground or small rollers. Pedal cadence should be above 85 rpm if you're completing the intervals on a gradual climb. Recovery periods between intervals are typically about half the length of the work interval. Note: A more advanced version of this interval would alternate between SS and PI intensities instead of SS and CR intensities.

The parameters of the Over Under (OU) intervals are written as: 3x12 OU (2U, 1O). This should be read as follows: Three intervals of 12 minutes. During the 12-minute intervals, the first 2 minutes should be at your Under intensity (2U). After two minutes, accelerate to your Over intensity for one minute (1O), before returning to your Under Intensity for another two minutes. Continue alternating in this manner – in this example you'd complete 4 cycles of Under and Over – until the end of the interval. Spin easy during the recovery period before starting the next interval.

Beginners: 3x9 OU (2U, 1O), 5 minutes easy spinning between intervals. Intermediate riders: 3x12 OU (2U, 1O), 6 minutes easy spinning between intervals. Advanced riders: 3x15 OU (2U, 1O), 8 minutes easy spinning between intervals.

Training Intensities for Over Unders: HR: 92–94 percent of highest average heart rate from CTS Field Test (Under) alternating with 95–97 percent (Over). Power: 86–90 percent of highest average CTS Field Test power (Under) alternating with 95–100 percent (Over).



Stage 13: Muret to Rodez (198km)

With the Pyrenees behind them, the overall contenders for the yellow jersey are likely to call a relative truce today. They'll be attentive and take advantage of opportunities if they arise, but Stage 13 is better suited to an opportunistic breakaway or a rider with a strong uphill kick, like Peter Sagan or Joaquin Rodriguez, maybe even Alejandro Valverde.

Knowing that the breakaway might have a good chance of success, the competition to be in the breakaway will be fierce in the first hour of racing. This can be the hardest part of the day, because the composition of the breakaway group has to be just right in order for it get away. If the group is too big (more than about 8 riders) or if it contains riders who are too high up in the general classification, the other teams will chase it down and the process of creating a breakaway group starts again. In the end, this "Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears" process will sort itself out when a group of 4-8 non-threatening riders from a variety of teams (typically only one rider from any individual team) forms off the front and the teams of the sprinters and yellow jersey contenders turn off the gas and let them gain time.

If you're one of the riders who is trying to make the selection and get into the day's breakaway, you have to be able to attack, work hard for several minutes, settle down for a few minutes (after your breakaway attempt is reeled in), and then launch or respond to another attack. There's very little recovery between these efforts, but you have to commit completely to each one. But when you have the fitness and power for these repeated efforts, you can get yourself into the breakaway and have a shot at victory.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Threshold Ladders.

How to do it: The goal of Threshold Ladders is to replicate the process of attacking and forming a breakaway. Each 12-minute interval starts with a maximal effort for two minutes (110+% of Field Test power, 100+% of Field Test heart rate, RPE of 10), and then you step the intensity down to your Climbing Repeat intensity range for four minutes (not because you're climbing, but because it's a step above the more sustainable Steady State intensity). The intensity range for Climbing Repeats is 95-100% of Field Test power, 95-97% of Field Test heart rate, RPE of 8 out of 10. At the end of this 4-minute period, step your intensity down one more notch to your Steady State range (86-90% of Field Test power, 92-94% of Field Test heart rate, RPE of 7) for 6 minutes. These intervals are very difficult because you start out with an intense effort that generates a lot of lactate. You'll still be processing that lactate as you ride at Climbing Repeat intensity, and still deal with it throughout the Steady State portion as well. Beginners and intermediate riders should complete two intervals, and advanced riders should complete three intervals. Take 6 minutes of easy spinning recovery between intervals.



Stage 14: Rodez to Mende (178.5km)

Stage 14 could be another day when a successful breakaway could reach the finish line, but they'll have to work hard to stay ahead of a charging peloton on the steep 3.1km climb of the Croix Neuve. This climb has an average gradient of 10%, which will split the main peloton to pieces and potentially give riders like Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome, and Alberto Contador the opportunity to open up a meaningful time gap with a relatively small effort. In racing the best moves are those that yield time gains with the least effort required. Gaining 20 seconds with only a 5-minute effort is better than gaining that same 20 seconds over the course of a 40-minute climb.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Hill Attacks. Get CTS Field Test Instructions.

How to do it: Find a hill that takes at least four minutes to climb. If you don't have any, do it on flat ground. This workout is just as good at preparing an athlete for flat-ground attacks and breakaways. Ride into the beginning of the 4-minute interval at a challenging pace, and then start the interval by attacking, out of the saddle, as hard as you can go, for 45 seconds. After your initial acceleration, settle into the highest intensity you can maintain and hold this intensity for the rest of the climb (or until you reach 4 minutes if you're doing these on flat ground or on a long climb). Your power output during this portion of the interval should be in your Climbing Repeat range or higher, and your cadence should be above 85rpm. The intensity for Climbing Repeats is 95-100% of the higher of your two average power outputs, and if you're using heart rate your range should be 95-97% of the higher of your two field test average heart rates. Take 5 minutes of easy spinning recovery between intervals. Beginners should complete 4 intervals, intermediate and advanced riders should complete 6 intervals.  



Stage 15: Mende to Valence (183km)

Stage 15 is a reward for the sprinters for making it through the Pyrenees and a moment of fun for them before they have to struggle through the Alps. There will be a breakaway in the morning, as there always is, but it is almost certainly doomed to failure. The sprinters' teams will be highly motivated to make sure this stage ends in a big bunch sprint.

Coming out of the mountains and at the end of the second week of racing, the sprinters' legs are not feeling too fresh. To loosen up and get rid of that heavy feeling they are likely to spend portions of the stage pedaling at higher cadences than normal, kind of like a motorpacing session. For amateurs who don't have access to motorpacing, Fast Pedal intervals can help you overcome heaviness in your legs, too.

The Workout: Endurance Miles 1:30 hours (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Fast Pedal Intervals.

How to do it: Though your heart rate and breathing rate will increase during the intervals, there's no prescribed heart rate nor power ranges. You should shift into an easy gear and bring your cadence up to as fast as you can go without bouncing in the saddle. Focus on kicking over the top and pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke, as this will help you stay smooth and help you keep you from bouncing. Beginners should do four 3-minute FastPedal Intervals, intermediate riders should do five 4-minute intervals, and advanced riders should do five 5-minute intervals. All intervals are separated by 4 minutes of moderate-cadence recovery.



Stage 16: Bourg de Peage to Gap (201km)

When you ride to Gap you know you're riding into the Alps, but this transitional stage is going to more of a long grind than an explosive climbing stage. This is a stage well suited to a moderate-sized breakaway, maybe 8-10 riders. You need enough horsepower to share the work and chew through the kilometers, but over the final climb any breakaway group will split up before the plunge to the finish in Gap.

To ride in the breakaway all day long you have to stay at an aerobic pace as long as possible. Surges above lactate threshold sap your energy and leave you more vulnerable to being dropped later in the stage. When you look at the power files for riders in the breakaway today, you'll see a lot of time spent at their Tempo intensity.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with two 20-minute Tempo intervals. Intensities for Tempo intervals: HR: 88-90% of Highest Field Test Average. Power: 80-85% of Highest Field Test Average

How to do it: Pedal speed should be low. Try a 70-75 RPM range while staying at the prescribed heart rate or power intensity. This helps increase pedal resistance and improve neuromuscular recruitment. Also try to stay in the saddle when you hit hills during your tempo intervals. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the tempo workout with as few interruptions as possible - tempo workouts should consist of consecutive riding at the prescribed intensity to achieve maximum benefit. Pros will do 2-hour Tempo intervals, and amateurs should try to progress from this 2x20min set to a 1x30min interval and then 1x45min, etc.  



Tuesday, July 21: Rest Day

The Tour de France is taking a rest day today, and so should you. As a general rule of thumb we recommend athletes take at least one day of complete rest, and one day of active recovery, per week. This obviously gets customized to the athlete based on their schedule, their goals, and their training history. The riders at the Tour will get on their bikes for about two hours today. Their bodies are so accustomed to the demands of being on the bike that a day of complete rest right now would be more disruptive than helpful. There's a big difference between racing a Tour stage and going for a ride for a few hours, though, so it will still be a day of recuperation for the racers. And because there's a very hard mountain stage tomorrow, they will incorporate some hard climbing efforts – short ones – into their ride just to keep their energy systems primed and their muscles loose for Stage 17.



Stage 17: Digne-Les-Bains to Pra-Loup (161km)

While there's a lot of climbing on Stage 17, the most decisive part of the stage might be the descent off the Col d'Allos. This highly-technical downhill will test the nerves of even the most skilled descender, and strike fear into the hearts of riders who lack confidence going downhill. Time gained on the climb is often lost on descents, but in this case a small gap at the top of the climb could be an even bigger time gain by the bottom!

Whether you're trying to open up a gap or close one down, accelerating out of the corners on a descent is crucial. You have to get back up to speed as quickly as you can, even if you know you're going to have to slam on the brakes again for the next hairpin turn. This is hard work, especially because you have to accelerate a big gear from a relatively slow speed. Even though the specifics of the day involve downhill corners, the accelerations are very similar to Speed Intervals.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Speed Intervals

Speed Intervals are a series of short accelerations where you basically “rev the engine” and then gently spin down as you decelerate before revving up again. Each effort is 20 seconds and the recovery between efforts is also 10 seconds. You should do some of these efforts seated and in the drops so you develop the ability to accelerate quickly without having to stand up every time.

On a relatively flat road or on a trainer, start out by riding at a moderate speed (15-20mph) and in a moderate gear you can pedal at about 90rpm. To start the first effort, stay in the gear you're in and accelerate hard. Your cadence will rise rapidly and you may reach your maximum effective cadence (pedaling faster than this will make you bounce in the saddle) before the end of the effort. Maintain this cadence at high power output until the end of 20 seconds. Back off the power, but keep your legs moving as you coast down to a slower speed over 10 seconds. Then accelerate again. Continue in this pattern until you have completed 5 minutes (10 efforts total). Pedal lightly and recover for four minutes and repeat the 5-minute set.



Stage 18: Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

There's nothing easy about this stage through the Alps, especially not the day's massive ascent of the Col du Glandon. But the climb that's new to the tour is the 18-switchback Lacets de Montvernier. Like a mini Alp d'Huez, this 3.4-kilometer climb will test the power and the climbing technique of everyone in the lead group. It's not just about having high climbing power on an ascent like this; you also have to be able to hold your speed through the corners and accelerate out of them, without digging so deep that the accelerations weaken you before the top.

This is a perfect day for more Over Unders, but this time we're going to shorten the Under interval so you're alternating between 1 minute at Steady State (under) and 1 minute at Power Interval (over) intensity. This is a bigger surge than in the previous iterations of Over Under Intervals in this program, but that's because today's efforts are going to need to be a bit stronger.

The Workout: 1:30 EnduranceMiles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with OverUnders. Beginners: 3x10 OU (1U, 1O), 5 minutes easy spinning between intervals. Intermediate riders: 3x12 OU (1U, 1O), 6 minutes easy spinning between intervals. Advanced riders: 3x14 OU (1U, 1O), 8 minutes easy spinning between intervals.

Training Intensities for OverUnders: HR: 92–94 percent of highest average heart rate from CTS Field Test (Under) alternating with 98-100% percent (Over). Power: 86–90 percent of highest average CTS Field Test power (Under) alternating with 100+ percent (Over).

How to do it: Over Under Intervals can be performed on a flat road, rolling hills, or a sustained climb that's relatively gradual (3 to 6 percent grade). It is difficult to accomplish this workout on a steep climb, because the pitch often makes it difficult to control your effort level. Your gearing should be moderate, and pedal cadence should be high (100 rpm or higher) if you're riding on flat ground or small rollers. Pedal cadence should be above 85 rpm if you're completing the intervals on a gradual climb. Recovery periods between intervals are typically about half the length of the work interval.

The parameters of the OU intervals are written as: 3x12 OU (1U, 1O). This should be read as follows: Three intervals of 12 minutes. During the 12-minute intervals, the first minute should be at your Under intensity (2U). After one minute, accelerate to your Over intensity for one minute (1O), before returning to your Under Intensity for another minute. Continue alternating in this manner – in this example you'd complete 6 cycles of Under and Over – until the end of the interval. Spin easy during the recovery period before starting the next interval.



Stage 19: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire-les Sybelles (138km)

Time is running out for the climbers to capture stage wins or take time out of rivals in the competition for the yellow jersey. This penultimate mountain stage is going to be a beast, especially with a 15km climb right out of the start! After that brutal wake-up, the stage doesn't get any easier, with climbs of the beyond-category Col de la Croix-de-Fer and Cat 2 Col du Mollard before tackling the 18-kilometer summit finish atop La Toussuire.

For just about everyone in the race today, finding a good climbing rhythm will be essential. Whether you're conserving energy for a big attack on the final climb, trying to limit your losses so you can race back to the peloton on the descent, or in the sprinters' group just trying to get to the finish inside the time cut, the key to performing well in a stage featuring well more than 60 kilometers of climbing is spending as much time as possible at a sustainable climbing pace. You have to minimize the number of hard accelerations and big efforts you put in, because each of those efforts uses up a lot of energy you're going to need later on.

The Workout: 1:30 EnduranceMiles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with High-Cadence Climbing Repeats.

How to do it: These are essentially the same intervals you performed during Stage 12, but with a focus on maintaining a higher cadence. The intensity for these intervals is 95-100% of your field test average power or 95-97% of your field test average heart rate. During these efforts, you should feel like you're going hard, but that you could accelerate in response to an attack if you needed to. These efforts should not be as intense as a time trial. Try to maintain a cadence of 90+rpm throughout the interval. This will most likely mean shifting into lighter gear than you would normally ride when climbing at 80rpm. Initially you may feel like you're working harder to maintain the cadence than to climb the hill, but stick with it. By the later portion of the interval, and especially during the second and third intervals, you'll likely notice that your power output and pace are not dropping off like they normally do when you're pushing bigger gears.

Beginners should complete two, eight-minute Climbing Repeats. Intermediate riders should complete three eight-minute intervals, and advanced riders should complete three 12-minute intervals. The recovery between intervals should be 12 minutes for each group. Be careful not to start the intervals too hard; spend the first 90 seconds gradually getting up to speed.



Stage 20: Modane Valfrejus to Alpe d'Huez (110km)

There is no long individual time trial in the third week of this year's Tour de France. Instead, the suspense will all come down to a final summit finish on the iconic slopes and swithbacks of Alpe d'Huez. And this won't be a time trial up the Alpe, either. No, to reach the final showdown, the riders will first tackle the Col du Telegraphe and the Col du Galibier, but it's likely that the main contenders will all be back together by the foot of the Alpe d'Huez because the descent and valley road after the Galibier summit is about 45km.

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, Power Intervals are a great workout.

The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Steady Effort Power Intervals.

How to do it: We prescribe two types of Power Intervals: Peak-and-Fade and Steady-Effort. Today I want you to do Steady-Effort Power Intervals. 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.



Stage 21: Sevres-Grand Paris Seine Quest to Paris Champs-Elysees (109.5km)

Following a long transfer to the outskirts of Paris, the peloton will roll out on the final stage of the 2015 Tour de France. Traditionally, the race for the yellow jersey is not contested today and the first few hours are predominantly a procession until the peloton reaches the Champs Elysees. There the race will heat up, as the sprinters contest both the final intermediate sprint (on the third lap on the Champs Elysees) and the stage finish, and perhaps the green points jersey if that competition is still close. Very rarely a lone rider manages to win on the Champs Elysees, but it is far more likely that the victory will go to the pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Andrei Greipel; or maybe to the scrappier sprinters who have something left after three weeks, like Peter Sagan or John Degenkolb.

The Workout: 2:00 The Workout: 1:30 Endurance Miles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with High Speed Sprints. (Click for CTS Field Test Instructions)

How to do it: The sprint on the Champs Elysees starts from an incredibly high speed. From the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, the road is downhill, then it's flat until there's a dip through the tunnel near the Louvre, and then it's flat again all the way to the finish line. With the lead-out trains flying at full speed in an effort to control the front of the race, the speeds will be in excess of 40mph with three kilometers to go, and at least 35mph in the final kilometer. Even in the draft it takes a lot of power to ride at these speeds, and then sprinters have to accelerate a few times to get into position before launching their final surge for the finish line.

Since you don't have a lead-out train, the best way to simulate sprints from a high starting speed is to sprint downhill. Use a gradual descent (2-3% downhill) to get up to at least 25mph (don't use a super-steep hill because then you don't have to work hard enough to get up to speed). When you launch your sprint, have your hands in the drops, jump out of the saddle, and sprint for 15 seconds. You can also use landmarks (like telephone poles) to gauge the distance of your sprint so you don't have to worry about looking at your handlebars or counting in your head. Beginners should do 5 sprints, intermediate riders should complete 7 sprints, and advanced riders should complete 10 sprints. Take 5 minutes of easy spinning recovery between sprints.

Get exclusive offers and training tips

Stay Connected:

Learn about our concierge service.