The Col Collective

Etape du Tour

Hi Mike, doing Le Etape d'Tour 19/7/15, just back on bike after a bout of pneumonia, building back up slowly. Planning a training camp (Mallorca or Gran Caneria) what would be (time off authorised permitting) the optimal time before event to maximise benefits of a week training camp? - Dave

Hi Dave, sorry to hear about the pneumonia! First things first you need to make sure that you are back to 100% health before hitting the training hard. Hopefully the weather in the UK is on the rise and you can get a solid month of May in the legs. I’d be inclined to look at a possible training camp around mid June, this should give you enough time to find your legs and will also mean that when you return you have enough time to fully recover (prep the bike, make any adjustments to your kit and finalise your fuelling strategy). Depending on how you cope with the heat, Gran Canaria will likely be hotter (it’s also more hilly) at this time of the year so could be a consideration. Best of luck!

Relating to Mallorca, please can you suggest routes there that would be good training for L'Étape? And also offer some guidance / tips on building confidence for reasonably (!) fast descents / cornering? - Justin.

Hi Justin, if you’re heading to Mallorca then you may want to camp out around Port de Pollenca so you’re in close proximity to the climbs. The map to get (see attached photo) is from the bike shop called SportBequi in Port d’Alcudia, they have done an awesome job of highlighting the cycling friendly roads and also plotted a load of routes of varying distances and elevation. Very useful indeed. If you’re training for Etape then the order of the day will be to ride some climbs. To be honest consistent back-to-back days in the saddle riding mountains will be a huge benefit but always listen to your body and don’t forget that recovery is the most important part of training.

When it comes to descending here are a few tips that we hope will help. As is the case with water naturally finding it’s way down the side of a mountain the same could be said about a good descender. Think of your body and bike as one, try to stay light on the pedals and allow your bike to lead as you give delicate inputs. Position your hands on the drops to lower your centre of gravity and bring more stability and control.

Look where you want to go. Now this may sound pretty obvious but the fact is where you look will generally dictate where you end up so it’s important to focus your attention a lot further down the road than the rear wheel or rider in front that you’re following at speed. Look beyond the bend at the path you wish to take. Having a broader view of the road ahead will allow you to quickly react to things as they happen, such as a rider switching lines for example, allowing time to adjust accordingly. Your peripheral vision will still be able to spot a pot hole or patch of gravel but by looking further ahead you’ll be one step ahead at all times.

Getting through the corners quickly and safely is a key skill to acquire when descending. Moderate your speed in advance of the bend as opposed to entering the corner too quickly and having to jam on the brakes at the last minute. This will give you more control and allow you to carry momentum throughout the turn. Keep your outside leg straight and focus the majority of your body weight downwards through the outside pedal to maintain rigidity as you hold your line. To maintain traction it’s important to lean your bike and not your body. Start slowly and practice until you have confidence in your descending ability in all conditions especially in the wet when traction is much less.

I put a video together many moons ago, the footage is pretty low res now but the info is still valid. Could be helpful you can watch it here

Stay well and ride safe.


Hi Guys! Hope you are doing well and thanks in advance for your kind attention! It's appreciated I'm currently preparing the Etape du Tour this summer and some other famous climbs as Tourmalet, Galibier and Alpe d'Huez. Unfortunately I'm feeling something like a tendonitis pain on my right thigh. I'm confused because I'm shared between (1) a full training stop which is mainly recommended by most of my friends (but with associated loose of condition) or (2) continue training and perhaps use an infiltration treatment which was not recommended by my friends. What do you think about it? What should I do? Many thanks in advance.

Really sorry to hear about your injury. It’s such a power struggle when your body is saying one thing and your mind the other. The reality is, if you train with an injury then there is a good chance you will do more damage and therefore a short break now could end up being a large break later. If you can I would seek professional advice so that you can get a good understanding of what is going on. One thing that I’ve found absolutely invaluable is a regular stretching routine. You may find that it’s something as simple as your IT band being tight. Taper back on the training and rest if you need to. With big mountains and events coming up a little time now to get it right will have you smiling much more come the summer. I put my daily stretching routine online here, hope it helps!

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