Q: Road cycling seemed to boom after last year’s Tour de France with more and more people on bikes – has this surge reached its peak?
A: ‘I’m always getting messages from people who have just seen a race on TV and been motivated to get out on their bike for the first time in years. So from a personal standpoint I feel like there are more and more people getting on their bikes – it’s inspiring and I’d say we haven’t reached peak lycra yet!’
Q: How hard is the build up to a race like the Tour de France?
A: ‘There’s no two ways about it, it’s bloody hard work - you’re constantly having to watch your diet, constantly push yourself to the limit in training, and the other side of the coin you need to recover properly - when you recover you can’t be on your legs walking around a shopping mall all day.’
Q: Some of the battles on the climbs in the Tour de France looked pretty painful– does the training prepare you for this?
A: ‘It’s a huge part of the sport - there’s no better way to put it than just suffering. Learning how to suffer. What you’re doing out training every day is inevitably teaching your body to suffer that little bit more so that when you’re in the race it feels a bit easier at least. And when you are suffering you want to keep going - that’s one of the beautiful things about the sport, it’s not something everyone can be good at, you’ve really got to be quite headstrong to be able to push yourself when other people would give up.’
Q: What’s your favourite kind of bike ride?
A: ‘I love getting on my bike and going for just a general 5-6 hour ride, no real high intensity work, just almost being a tourist on the bike. It takes me back to the whole reason I fell in love with cycling – the freedom; being outdoors, taking it all in and going up into the mountains on roads where you don’t see many cars. But at the level we’re doing you have to do the intervals, you have to do the intensity work that you need to get you through the races.’
Q: TDF cyclists need to be very strong but very light too – how does that work?
A: ‘In cycling obviously the power to weight ratio is everything so the nutrition side of things is massive. We are forever trying to source local, organic food - we’re making smoothies all the time. We definitely go low-carb on the days that we are not doing huge amounts of work, in order to cut the weight down. But it’s high in protein and also high in fat - but obviously the healthy fats from avocado, fish oil, that kind of stuff.’
Q: So how should people who are riding for fitness fuel their training sessions?
A: ‘Don’t think “right I’m doing a 50-mile ride tomorrow so I have to have a massive bowl of pasta tonight and the same thing for breakfast,” because you’ll just get on the bike and feel bloated. Top up on the ride instead to keep the sugars going in with gels, or whatever you can carry, rather than to trying to load it all up before the ride.’
Q: What about this year’s Tour de France – what do you think the challenges are going to be?
A: ‘It’s really challenging this year - it’s very much a race that’s going to be won or lost in the mountains. There is a lot less emphasis on time trailing - more than anything the power-to-weight ratio is going to be even more important. I am spending less time on the time trial bike this year and more time in the mountains. But I’m hopefully looking forward to the last stage - I’d like to get there first!’
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your GP before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.