Admittedly getting ready for L’Étape Australia by Tour de France isn’t going to allow me to do the cycling equivalent of last-minute exam preparation. Cramming doesn’t work for training like it worked at school and university.

A recent ride in Noosa, with Simon Clarke and Robbie McEwen, was a stark reminder of the gap in fitness between a pro-cyclist, a retired pro-cyclist and a commentator. Talking is so much easier. But talk is cheap.

Therefore, I’m determined to make the most of the last three weeks of preparation for L’Étape.

Since June my preparation has been very ordinary. No bike for a month at the Tour de France, and again I didn’t ride for a month at the Vuelta. I was also bikeless for 10 days in China, in October.

Throughout July, August, September and to the middle of October I spent more time running than riding. Five-kilometre runs aren’t ideal preparation for L’Étape. With this in mind, I don’t expect any miracles and need to not overdo it.

A lot of my training from now until L’Étape will be on Zwift, via its training sessions section, for time efficiency. Here’s my plan.

Week One and Two:

Monday – Zwift VO2 Max session. This is an hour on the bike and is aimed at increasing the amount of oxygen my body can use to keep pushing those pedals. This will be crucial for when I’m in Col de Beloka.

Tuesday – no ride.

Wednesday – Zwift Mitochondria session. Again this is one hour on the bike but this time it includes 10 one-minute efforts above my threshold. And it finishes with a solid 10-minute effort below the threshold but it’s a painful aerobic effort.

Thursday – 6 am bunch ride, about one and a half hours.

Friday – no ride.

Saturday – Peak Cycles (local bike shop in Heidelberg, VIC) bunch ride, three hours of rolling hills.

Sunday – no ride.

Week Three:

Monday – no ride.

Tuesday – 6 am bunch ride, about one and a half hours.

Wednesday – 30-45min on the home-trainer with my heart rate no higher than 130bpm.

Thursday – fly to Canberra, drive to Jindabyne and build my bike.

Friday – do a one-hour gentle ride.

Saturday – L’Étape, let’s go.

If you’re a little underdone, don’t panic. For me, this is just a plan, which may change along the way.

What I do know is that overdoing it will only make things worse. So do what you can and enjoy the challenge on the day while keeping it in the context of all your other life commitments.

See you on the start line!

Matt Keenan

Being one of the most recognizable voices of cycling, Matthew Keenan regularly forms part of the international commentary team at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, broadcast around the world from Europe, USA, Africa, New Zealand and on SBS in Australia. In the 2019 edition of L’Etape Australia, Matt will ride (not race) with you “The Ride”.