As we come out of the mountains, you might be surprised to hear that the most difficult days of The Tour are here. You know, in the Tour de France, that last lap on the last day of the Champs Elysees? The lap where it’s totally flat out, high intensity, massive hell-for-leather speed? That’s what these two days are like.
For it’s at this point, that anyone who wants any shot at glory must attack. The intensity goes up a level, as the rouleurs and puncheurs come to the fore. The breakaway specialists, the sprinters, the fast men. The issue, of course, with this kind of intensity is that you’ve got six days of racing behind you and, in the last two in particular, some long, heavy sustained efforts. The switch to the short, on-again, off-again racing on these two days is going to bring a few racers to their knees. We can’t wait.
*** Day 7 – The Downward Spiral – 60minutes ***
The good news about today is that you have about 30 minutes of easy riding along the flats while you follow the pack along. The bad news is that the other 30 minutes is sheer, white-pain agony. The other bad news is that those 30 easy minutes seem far shorter than the hard 30 minutes. That’s known as the Sufferlandrian Time Warp. No excuses, though: Put it in the big ring today, and make sure you keep it there. Expect attacks from Boonen, Evans, Moreau (back from retirement for the ToS), Hushovd and more. The day is structured into two sets of descending intervals. You go flat out for 2:00, then tool along for 2:00. Then you do 1:45 the same way, then 1:30, then 1:15 all the way down to :15. At the end of the second set, it may seem like the finish never arrives. But we don’t want to give away any ‘surprises.’ We’re good like that.
How to get through it: Use the warm-up well. Your legs – not your cardio – are going to be the issue today – getting to this intensity on legs full of fatigue is going to be tough. So stretch, warm-up thoroughly and get mentally ready for that first 2:00 interval. Focus on making it to the 5:00 recovery section between intervals. While there, you’ll probably feel quite full of fear that you can’t do the second set of intervals, but we’ve found that if you can get past the 1:30 interval in the second set, then you can finish it off. So just think of getting past that and then you’ll be fine. Sort of.
*** Day 8 – There is No Try + Revolver – 1hr 45 minutes ***
Revolver. Those who have done it, know what this day brings. Even by itself, it’s one of the most feared videos in the ‘fest collection. To have it this far into the tour, and following the increasing speed intervals of There is No Try is simply diabolical. Which means it’s a perfect fit for the pentultimate day of The Tour. The day starts out with TINT, which asks you to incrementally increase your speed as each interval progresses (these are known as Sufferlandrian Intervals), with several of the intervals finishing in sprints, you’re asked to put out some maximum power early in the day. The longest interval, which is 4×2:00, comes in the middle of the session and can crack even the strongest resolve. We hear that both Wiggins, Jens Voigt and Peter Sagen are all targeting this day, so watch for them.
How to get through it: TINT is mental. You must be ready and committed to increasing your speed. Don’t let fear get in the way and don’t let doubt even come into the room. Have a Minion at the door to keep both at bay. You need to be totally prepared to knock that gear up during each interval and get stuck into each acceleration. During TINT, don’t think about Revolver. And, during Revolver, don’t think about Revolver. Think about being somewhere really nice – like a resort or a beach or a spa or a bar with a big beer in your hand. Those thoughts might, might, get you through it.