Dissecting The Alpe d'Huez Time Trial
Chris Carmichael dissects the Alpe d'Huez time trial.
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The fabled climb and its 21 numbered switchbacks is a very difficult and technically demanding time trial course. However, since it?s only 15.5 kilometers long and it?s not coming at the end of a long road stage, I don?t expect any of the top riders to gain a big chunk of time over his rivals. Riding by themselves, in their own rhythms and without having to respond to surges from other riders, the top men in the Tour de France should climb at reasonably similar speeds. I wouldn?t be surprised if the top three riders were within 30 seconds, and the top five with one minute.
Since the individual climbing abilities of the top riders are somewhat similar, the most critical task on Stage 16 may be avoiding having a bad day. If the scenario from the Stage 13 individual time trial last year had occurred on Alpe d?Huez, Lance Armstrong would most likely have lost five minutes or more. He is in better condition this year, and he is not suffering from chronic dehydration either, so I expect him to finish in the top three on Stage 16 and ride faster than several of his main rivals in the process.
Early in the Day
To ride up to his potential, Lance Armstrong is going to have to be very focused in the hours before the race. In terms of nutrition, his breakfast will be similar to what he eats on most days of the Tour de France. However, since his start time will be around , he?ll go out for a 2-3 hour ride in the late morning. Like the ride on the rest day, this medium-length ride helps to maintain the routines the body has become accustomed to over more than two weeks of racing. The intensity for the ride will be moderate, but will also include a few reasonably hard efforts as well.
Upon returning to the hotel after his ride, Lance will consume his last big meal about three or three and a half hours before he starts the time trial. The meal will consist mainly of carbohydrate from some combination of rice, pasta, potatoes and other vegetables. There will also be a small amount of protein in the meal, but he won?t eat too much meat, cheese or egg prior to the time trial. The meal isn?t going to be huge either. While he will likely burn more than 1000 calories in about 32-35 minutes of effort, plus the energy he?ll burn during his warm-up, Lance would like to start the time trial feeling a little hungry rather than feeling full.
After eating his last large meal,