Training for Etape du Tour

Is there a specific training plan in Zwift for this year’s Etape du Tour?

There’s a Gran Fondo training plan which I would imagine covers the same sort of thing?

Welcome Colin.

I’ve trained people before for this event (the Australian version). It’s basically long rides - don’t panic about intervals or sprints or that sort of thing, it’s the whole distance and getting the big kilometres and the elevation.

You just have to gradually work your way up to the distance and as you do more of these big rides they will become easier.

Me personally preparing for the kinds of big mountain stages you find in Haute Route 7 day events, the training I do falls in winter where the days are short, it gets dark quickly in the evening after work and it is cold or wet - so on the trainer I’m looking at these sorts of training because I cannot go and do big outdoor rides during Mon-Fri:

  • 2x30min intervals at 85-88%
  • 3x20min intervals at 85-90%
  • 4x10min intervals 85-90%, low cadence, then as you progress over the weeks you can increase them to 12 or 13 minutes and maybe decrease the rest time in between each interval slightly.

Those last ones are getting you used to what it will be like to be riding up hill for close to 1 hour. As you get the longer interval blocks with shorter recovery, it’s becoming less like 4 intervals with recovery and more like one constant very long block. Then when you ride the real thing at normal cadence you should feel okay with that.

Then on the weekends, weather permitting get out and do long rides, you don’t have to go flat out, but distance and some decent hills on the Saturday ride and Sunday should be just low intensity, still reasonable distance but easy pace.

Make sure you fit in recovery. I tended to do Monday and Friday as recovery days - typically not doing anything on those days - or if I did, very easy rides with small chain ring only and low power.

Also important if you don’t ride many hills in real life, make an effort to find them and get comfortable on the descents. You don’t have to go crazy attacking the descents, but be comfortable and safe on them.

Thanks much Chris. This really helps!

Thanks James!

Having done two of them, including the 2017 of which the last 30km was climbing, sometimes above 12% and at a high enough altitude for oxygen to be a little problem, work on efficiency, nutrition and finding your most efficient cadence. I was a little surprised when my friend told me he had stuck a triple on the front and a 34t long cage on the rear, up until the point we managed to clock up a day climbing in the peak district and after 6 hours of riding he just kept spinning. Followed his lead for L’Etape and was the best decision of the day. Whilst others went away on most climbs at first, I just kept spinning and soon got back up. Whilst tiring it was never absolutely exhausting despite it being well above 30c

Hi Dabby,
Great insight into the Etape? I just completed the Zwift Gran Fondo training but the Etape isn’t for awhile. Any advice on how to train for the last month and a half? I live in Minnesota so not a lot of hills to train on. Should I do a bunch of long Zwift hill rides? Thanks much, Colin

Dappy sorry for the typo.

Hi Dappy,
Great insight into the Etape? I just completed the Zwift Gran Fondo training but the Etape isn’t for awhile. Any advice on how to train for the last month and a half? I live in Minnesota so not a lot of hills to train on. Should I do a bunch of long Zwift hill rides? Thanks much, Colin

Sorry for the delay in replying. Long rides are essential but would complete these long rides with efficiency in mind rather than pure grinding away. You also have the L’Etape Du Tour Training Club plans on Zwift which offer a mix of tempo, high intensity etc (4th from the bottom on my Zwift) and these no doubt are developed by people far more knowledgable than me. Having done the Galibier and Croix Der Fer, they are not too shocking, however by the time you reach Huez your legs will feel a little tender so play with your nutrition now and get use to it, as nutrition is the last thing you want to worry about when it hurts on the last climb. The number of people you see struggling having tried new gels on the day is astounding. Also, both my L’Etapes were on scorching days (coming from the UK anyway) with temps up to 35c so just in case, get use to cycling in heat where possible, drink loads+salts. As for the last month and a half, if you have completed the training plan above, I would stick with long steady rides with a few interval sessions and wind it down in the two weeks leading up but still get steady mileage in. If your main goal is to avoid the broom wagon, then steady is the way to go, if you are aiming for a brisk time still go steady leading up with nothing too onerous and don’t get dragged along in a fast pack only to be totally battered on Huez. Been there, done that, wholly unpleasant on the Col De Joux Plane

Greetings again. One last question. How did you fuel the morning of the ride and during? Thanks again and have a great summer. Cheers, Colin

Personally pasta the night before, a few croissants in the morning and then during the ride I ate bananas and pastries at the aid stations, my own wine gums (never knew squashies existed then) and sweets as I knew I could eat all of them in reasonable quantities with no ill health.
On my recent Ironman I had loads of squashies, flapjacks, their bananas and their cola. Try squashies if gels don’t suit you as I have found I can eat super large quantities to no ill effect and no horrible aftertaste/sore teeth (of course diabetes is a concern if you do it loads in your training.). Also electrolytes, carry spare tabs and some spare euro (20 euro in one bar end, and 4 paracetamol, 2 diarroehha tabs in clingfilm in the other, small tub of chamois cream taped under the seat wrapped in two baby wipes)).
You go through plenty of villages with shops open, and you can always pick up a bottle of water if you run out, although in fairness plenty of spectators watching from their lawn will be more than happy to fill up your bottle.
I went to my first L’etape worried about fuelling and liquids and it was never really a problem or shouldn’t have been had I been sensible. Do not fall into the trap of being low on food/water and then going past an aid station thinking you will hang on to the next one, takes 5 mins to stop and replenish. It all sounds a lot to remember but if you plan ahead, it is far more enjoyable.

Thanks again for all the useful info. Its much appreciated. I’m coming from the US and riding with Trek Travel. They have all the accommodations and fuel stations set so off the bike I’m covered. Just rode a 100 miles on the farm lands of Minnesota so I do have some miles in my legs. I have to ask, what are squashies? I think its what we call energy chews. Cheers and take care, Colin

Just keep going with the milaege, training and prep. Make sure you are used to using whatever Trek Travel supply prior to the event and you will clearly be fine.
As for squashies, never occurred to me that you might not know them from the US, sorry.
PS still stick some paracetamol and diarrhoea tablets in your bar stops and forget about them