It’s that time of year again when I get woken by cheers in the middle of the night by my cycling mad partner, or wake up in the morning to find he has fallen asleep on the couch, and the TV is still on. It must be Tour de France time again!
Cycling as a sport has certainly had some bad press over the years, whether it be due to the use of prohibited substances by some athletes (hello Lance), or the unfortunate frequency of road accidents involving cyclists in Australia.
Despite this, this race is one of the most physically and mentally demanding on the body, when compared with any other sports. The race lasts for three weeks, with nearly every stage (bar 3) over 150km on the bike each day.
Over the next few weeks, watch out for some cycling related posts, where we look into strategies the teams use to ensure all riders are in peak condition for the duration of the race. So, what do the riders eat during the Tour de France?
This week we’ll take a look at what some of the team chefs are serving up to help fuelling and recovery. Many of the chefs post pictures and recipe ideas on their respective twitter accounts and blogs- and some of the meals are enough to make you want to be a pro cyclist!
Hannah Grant is the chef for Team Tinkoff Saxo. Recent meals have included Rhubarb compote, cinnamon French toast and Greek yoghurt with almonds, or Oxheart cabbage crushed with mustard seed vinaigrette, apples and blueberries or Meat balls with basil and lemon zest with a salad of avocado and cottage cheese with chives.
Nicki Strobel is the chef for Orica GreenEdge (the only Australian owned team in the tour), and am loving his banana and walnut muffins with coconut, grilled tuna with soy and chilli, or sticky date pudding.
Team Sky’s chef Soren Kristiansen includes organic meats, almond/white chocolate blueberry cakes and bulgur mixed with rhubarb, red cabbage and vanilla.
From the above examples, it is easy to see the riders get fed very, very well. So what is the key focus? The majority of the carbohydrate that is needed is replaced whilst the rider is actually on the bike, thus meals need to be particularly nutrient dense, so lots of vegetables and protein, paired with the quantity of carbohydrates each individual rider requires, taking into account any recovery, preparation and other individual needs.
Watch out soon for the next post, where we look at what the riders actually eat whilst on the bike.
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health. This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues