This training article was written by Cycling-Inform for L’Étape Australia by Tour de France.
1 – Do more vertical meters in your training
I’m going to kick this off with the most obvious tip, but I see it time and time again in my riders’ data. While taking advantage of the bunches that form will help your overall average speed, the two things that have a greater impact with your overall time are how long you spend off the bike at stops and how fast you ride the climbs of L’Étape Australia. While It’s fun to take part in your local flat bunch rides to build speed and bunch riding skills, consider also heading to the hills and incorporating some of the epic climbs you have in your area to build your weekly vertical meters. Riding hills builds strength and improves your average time on climbs.
2 – Mix-up your climbing.
I often get asked what is the best hill repeat to do. The answer is: there isn’t one. L’Étape Australia is made up of a series of climbs that vary in length and gradient. So, with your training, rather than focusing on repeating one particular climb or training route, mix it up and explore all the different hills that you have available to you. That way you’ll train yourself to be able to accommodate the climbs of L’Étape Australia when you ride it on the event day.
3 – Throw away your front derailleur days
When building strength for climbing, I used to choose one ride a week where I would spend a large portion of the ride in the big chainring, regardless of the terrain I was riding. This would force me to lower my cadence on climbs to help build strength. Now, I’m not saying to get too excessive with this and grind your way up climbs at cadences lower than 50 rpm, but in moderation it’s a good way to ride a few gears harder than you would normally on climbs to simulate steeper gradients. This is of particular importance if you can’t find steep or long hills in your area. You can even use this technique to simulate longer climbs even on flat rides by finding a stiff headwind and drive into it while riding at between 70 to 50 rpm. Make sure you mix up your cadence during the ride, so you don’t spend the whole time at lower cadences. Also, be careful not to excessively strain yourself at lower cadences just to prove a point. Build into it gradually over several weeks so that you avoid injuring yourself. If you have any knee or lower back issues or experience any pain while doing low cadence training stop immediately and seek medical advice.
4 – Work on your technique
I see a lot of cyclists that are hell bent on blasting up every climb as fast as they can in a futile effort to build speed. As a result, they throw any technique out the window as they smash away at the pedals. Cycling is like swimming. Just like trashing yourself through water is inefficient and slow, the same goes for climbing hills. It’s much better to slow things down so that you can focus on locking your core and working on improving the efficiency of your whole pedal stroke at low cadences first. Then once you have mastered this, work on building your speed. Also, spend time working on developing a very efficient out of the saddle standing technique. It will help you get up steeper gradients when you encounter them.
5 – Improve your core
My strength and conditioning trainer told me one day that “you can only develop as much power as you can stabilise”. So, understand that hill climbing speed and core strength go hand in hand. To develop good hill climbing power you need to be able to stabilise your power with your core. Doing off the bike core strength training and combining it with good hill climbing technique is the way to produce great hill climbing speed.
Cycling-Inform have developed training programs specifically for L’Étape Australia that include several hours of training videos that cover pedalling technique and off the bike training to help you build good climbing power for the event. To subscribe to a training plan, please click here.