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How Do Tour de France Cyclists Climb So Fast?

How Do Tour de France Cyclists Climb So Fast?


– Have you ever sat at home
watching the Tour de France, and gone how on Earth do
those riders climb so fast? – I have, certainly. Luckily we also have a little
experience to share with you. – Ooh, yes we do. (relaxed electronic music) – If you want to climb like a
Tour de France mountain goat, you have to live every second of every day with one bit of focus in your mind. Going uphill, fast. – Yeah, you have to be accountable for every bit of food you take in. You can’t sit down in February and tuck in to a massive bar of chocolate
like we all like to do and then want to go uphill fast come July. I guess, to an extent, a sprinter, someone who’s less focused
on going uphill fast, could get away with this behavior. But if you want to go fast come July at the Tour de France, then
you have to be accountable for every morsel that crosses your lips. – And the same goes for every action that you take as well. Every action has a cumulative effect on the human body. Imagine, for example, that you live on the third floor of
a block of apartments and you go up and down
at least twice every day. That’s 28800 steps before
you’ve even made it to the Tour de France. Would you therefore be
better taking the elevator after those tough seven
hour training rides? It’s a real world consideration for a Tour de France pro. And speaking of food,
I once had a teammate that, in the lead up to big hill-y races, for two weeks would
only eat oats and water. So unhealthy to have
such a restricted diet, but he did go uphill pretty quick. – Oats and water? – Yeah, grim.
– Sounds horrendous. As Chris and I are
climbing the Col Madeleine, we’re going into altitude. So it’s probably a good time to tell you a bit about altitude training. Altitude training has
gained mass popularity over recent years. To the extent that most World Tour pros have experimented with some sort of altitude camp or altitude training at some point over their career. – Now the premise is to
sleep high and to train low. Essentially what happens
when sleeping at altitude, is whilst we’re breathing
the oxygen reduced air, our body is forced to adapt by producing more red blood cells which then transport the
oxygen to our muscles which is the mainstay
of aerobic performance. And yes, you could get
the same adaptations from the comfort of your own home by using a hyperbaric
chamber, an altitude tent, there is much more emphasis placed on actually traveling to
these remote locations. And this is because there
are generally speaking, fewer distractions for the athlete meaning they can focus
on the task at hand. – It is hard at altitude, isn’t it? – It is at this speed. – [James] Training at
altitude isn’t for everyone and can certainly take a while to adapt to but riders have been quoted saying that it boosts their sustainable
power up to 10%. Which could normally take
two years or more to achieve. These are high responders, though, and unlike regular fitness gains these do not last forever. As little as 10 to 20
days, meaning another trip to altitude is needed. – No matter how fit you
are as an amateur cyclist, it’s simply unrealistic to expect to climb as fast as a Tour de France
pro for one simple reason. They will have a leadout. – Yeah, aerodynamics are at play at even speeds of around
20 kilometers per hour. So this can also help
when you’re climbing. Not only does it help with your pacing, but it also helps with
increasing the speed going up the climb. As each rider pulls off,
the speed gets faster and your rider at the back will be able to stay in the
wheels as long as possible. Alright, cheers mate! – Now, you might be wondering, surely everyone sat on a
wheel is getting benefit. But this just isn’t true. For one reason, mountains are
often twisty and technical. Meaning that the first rider
goes through the corner, accelerates ever so slightly, and that effect is amplified
back through the group. Meaning that by the time rider
number 10 leaves the corner, they’re either going to be sprinting to catch the wheel or the elastic’ll snap and they’ll let the wheel go. – You’ve trained your entire life, eating correctly and taking care of all your tactics
and positioned yourself just perfectly going into the race. But, there’s still something
that holds you back. – And that’s your genetics! Some riders are just genetic freaks. Capable of processing more oxygen whilst producing more power
and all whilst doing so more efficiently that the rest of us. – And these guys are the complete package. They have the mental fortitude and physical capability
of backing it up too. It’s just unfair. – Might as well go home now, I reckon. – Yeah. – No matter what any media
outlet or your mates down the pub will have you believe, cycling these days is actually a much cleaner sport than it was 20 years ago. Back then, the speeds that they could ride on the bikes that they had to
ride was frankly phenomenal. – The reason for this was
simply down to doping. I guess if you wanted to climb like a Tour de France
pro back 20 years ago, then you’d have to get
charged off your chops on a cocktail of stimulants
and blood boosters. And this is something we
obviously don’t recommend. And studies have shown that you can’t change a
donkey into a racehorse. And so, I guess I
wouldn’t waste your time. – There you have it, a little insight on just how to climb like
a Tour de France pro. – If you liked this video
then give it a big thumbs up. For more how-tos, click
on my lovely Orbea. Is there a reason you’re
stood up the hill? – Make me look taller. (James sighing)

100 comments on “How Do Tour de France Cyclists Climb So Fast?

  1. Due to the geography of my country it's impossible not not end up climbing… Heck, even commuting requires it. 😅

  2. So basically because they're all experienced professional well funded world class athletes. I'll bear that in mind next time I'm on a local climb!

  3. Greg LeMond is a good example of somebody who had a way above average ability to climb. When he was in his teens, living in Reno, Nevada, he used to ride Geiger Grade to Virginia City and the Mt. Rose Highway to Lake Tahoe. If you can go up those, with the elevations going from 4,000 feet in Reno to over 6,000 feet, then you can handle the Tour. They are very narrow and very steep climbs.

  4. 1-They train much more than you
    2-They have been training much longer than you
    3-The Weight less than you
    4-They have better bike and better genetics than you
    5-They dope

  5. defeatist and clueless commentary. you two infuriate me. get someone that knows how to climb to do this vid.

  6. No to chocolate bars if you want to climb fast? Speak for yourself, I’m 35 and I stay at 68 kg whether I’m training 6 days a week or not. Some people are just naturally lean and good at climbing. Other people put on muscle easier and make for better sprinters. Most of it is genetics.

  7. You are not correct here. The speed was not faster during the doping days. The speed record for a tour de france is 41km/h (2005) but only about 39km/h year 2000 and 2002. Just check climbing-records dot com. Distance, course, much to consider here. The peleton has totally changed with much more teams doing the pullings and much more welltrained athlethes in a team consider 2000. During froomies days the changed the course, more mountains and fewer TT to keep the sport more exciting. (He was so boring they had to change the course:) ….and therefore the speed went down.

  8. I think it's funny how when Europeans refer to doping they only can mention the American,, despite the vast majority of the EU based riders doing the same thing.

  9. Hi, by the way of doping, what characteristic have a substance for being either banned or illegal for a pro cyclist who want improve his performance in any competition?

  10. … kind of a douche move to only use Lance's photo for doping. There's been hundreds caught. You really think Lance the individual was the problem? How naive.

  11. It's all drugs and little electric motors in the seattube, toptube, rear hub.That's what it is. Which is why riders consistently change bikes day-to-day, depending on the terrain. It's mainly sports enhancing drugs. All Tour de France riders use'em (with the exception of maybe five or six). Yet, Lance got the entire shit-stick, just so the doping agency would ignore & leave alone the rest of the pack. Have not watched a tour since Lance's last race. Have not pedaled a road bike since. We boycott anything that says, or is owned by… Trek.
    You're all on drugs. Thats how ya do a race. Especially the RAAM. Any rebuttal?

  12. Genetic freaks = drugs. It is not cleaner today. They just know how to use the drugs in a better way and dont get caught

  13. :Let alone TDF, even in the club we have rides who can't climb but drop all type of climbers on the flat. Or some riders who seems descent until the roads get a bit bumpy and they rode through just fine. Or they climb descent but descent like a pro with map in the head.

  14. I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight due to my freakish metabolism. Cookies. I’m 41 with two kids so I’m not yet interested in checking out (i.e. crashing) the roller derby of cycling (i.e. crits) even though I’m probably naturally a sprinter. Additionally, I’m a small guy (Cavendish) so flat roads don’t do me any favors.

    So, I’ve been focusing more on building my sustained watts for climbing because I already have the weight portion naturally. Gotta use my small size/low weight to my advantage somehow.

    Then you factor in a lot of people don’t like to work that hard or aren’t in as good of shape. Presto. You seem like a TDF pro going uphill at any local group ride and especially at Grand Gordos, er, Fondos!

  15. hi GCN ! i just watched this https://youtu.be/2nnl2L0KovE and have a request. can you do a show about Russian racing back then? their equivalent of the TDF and the results of some of those races compared to TDF etc? it would behoove the cycling world to know how other countries evolved as well. we spend too much time in our own world sometimes. i don't speak a word of Russian other than Da, Nyet and Spaceba but i found that film fascinating nonetheless. what gear did they use? who was the champion, the villain, the hero? surely it's a fascinating history and as rich as the TDF ?

  16. “Can’t change a donkey into a race horse.” Is this GCN trying to legitimize Lance? He was never a contender until after developing his doping program. He was already a pro racer (hardly a donkey) who developed a doped up team to support him.

  17. I didn’t get anything out of this guys… gear ⚙️ ratios, crank lengths, power to weight, all would have been more interesting. Technique and body position would have been good too.

  18. Granted they dope and use e-bikes but even when they don't they are still much faster than us. Genetics and training accounts for maybe 90% of the difference.

  19. think the issue is they are "professionals", and I'm a fat, overweight 45yr old! haha I have no ambitions to climb like a pro….I'm happy just plodding away up any hills I happen to find myself at. I managed to cycle round Arran in 4 hrs….and doing the 5 Ferries in 4 weeks. As long as I am enjoying the cycling and having fun, I'm loving it. 😀

  20. What about body weight? Average pro climber is 64kg (141lbs). Average Sprinter is 72kg (159lbs). Pinot is 63kg. Alaphilippe is 62kg. Contador 62kg.

  21. hi guys n gals …… great videos by the way……..i have a question for you ……..i train on my own a lot since february 2019 i had not rode a bike for quite a few years ……..i do a lot of hill climbing when i can due to my job i live in canada now and love yr show…im an ex-pat by the way…how ever i went on a ride for health with a group and found to my suprise that i got slaughtered how can i improve and keep my cadence up for long periods of time …my bike is an old one and waighs about 35 pounds and i am around 205 sometimes 199.3 lbs i dont seem to be loosing any more poundage lol…………………………………………………………………….… i look forward to yr reply thanks again .

  22. The biggest gains most people can make to improve climbing is weight loss. If you lose 10 lbs without changing your power, that’s 5-8 percent improvements in your climbing speed depending on how much you weigh

  23. Just did the famous Tourmalet-climb. Had an average speed of 13.6 kph and I'am kind of proud of it. I'am just 16 years old so there is still time to get better, right? I did a lot a (famous) climb, but I think this is my best one, is this good for a 16 year old, anyone any information?

  24. In my case… 1. They tiny dont have 130kg, 2. They arent 190cm tall, 3. Im pretty sure they dont have problem with discushernia… so at the end im not so bad 😂😂😂

  25. I once spent a month above 7500 feet in New Mexico
    When I returned to North Carolina at 250 ft I rode like I had a motor for about a month

  26. The sport is cleaner? I hope so because I really enjoy it. But considering that the Tour de France is the hardest race of the hardest sport in the world, there's a surprising number of asthmatics who do quite well in it – that even win it. Doesn't seem possible.

  27. I wonder if I'm actually a great climber given that the only climbs I have faced are around my city (Bogotá, Colombia) which is 2600 meters above sea level. If I go to a climb anywhere else do I have an advantage over the people who regularly climb there?

  28. Since doping was much wider spread 20 years ago and "you can't change a mule into a race horse", what is your opinion of Lance Armstrong and where he would rank amongst the best riders ever?

  29. Does the two weeks training of Alaphillipe in Colombia after the Tour Colombia in Feb influenced his results in theTDF?

  30. Stair climbing works out muscles that are used climbing on the bike… why wouldn't we take the stairs? Hashtag reduce unnecessary electricity use.

  31. Stem Cell research has lots of fingers in the pie. Using your own blood serum to heal the wounded body having become really popular amongst top athletes

  32. DO A VIDEO ON THE BUSINESS OF PRO CYCLING, HOW DOES IT MAKE MONEY AND WHY DO MANY TEAMS STOP SPONSORING OFTEN?

  33. You show four pictures of Armstrong and no other riders during the doping topic, as if he was the only one doping. Virtually every rider in the peloton on every team was doping, stop perpetuating the stereotype that Lance Armstrong was the only "cheater".

  34. 1st Pro Cyclists are superfit and special the mountain specialists are superlean, some you would more likely to call anorexic. So their Watts/Kilo is outstanding. That's the reason why they climb so fast. Beeing superfit while beeing anorexic, if you are not born and rised up in an altitude of ovewr 2K meters. Quiet high price to pay for beeing a fast climber from my point of view.

  35. GCN, do you think think the top pros have multiple liposuction surgeries in the off season to help remove stubborn pockets of fat from their bodies?

  36. Just another stupid question, but, has not Egan Bernal been 'blood doping' for his 22 years, just living in Columbia?
    Would not transvestite male athletes be guilty of doping since they were born? Would not female athletes be aggrieved?

  37. would be a "hypobaric" chamber (low pressure) not a hyperbaric chamber (what I believe him said)….you're looking for lower atmospheric pressure, similar to altitude, in order to decrease the available blood oxygen and induce your own natural EPO release and the resultant polycythemia (increased hematocrit).

  38. I hate cyclists as much as I hated Osama Bin Laden because they always block traffic when their in packs, they hog the road and get away with traffic violations. Plus, there is a correlation between sex offenders and cyclists, so I should be able to run them over because all of the spandex wearing pedophiles deserve to die.

  39. Armstrong already tried to pull genetics on us, no thanks. Body type is an issue but anytime someone is claiming genetics is helping their vO2 max or rbc count I hear doping.

  40. Doping is still rife in cycling as it is in most elite sports. FACT!! The governing bodies as we all know have double standards. If you are an elite ATHLETE with global status and it is going to affect the sport, sponsors etc etc then they will do what they can to keep either a lid on things or recommend another way to overcome any positive outcomes. FACT !!

  41. Altitude tents use normobaric hypoxia to simulate the hypobaric hypoxia experienced at altitude… hyperbaric chambers have nothing to do with altitude training

  42. Altitude tents use normobaric hypoxia to simulate the hypobaric hypoxia experiences at altitude… hyperbaric chambers have nothing to do with altitude training

  43. being much cleaner than in the 80s isn't much… … back in the days everyone used steroids etc

    and not using anymore 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣. BS..
    no matter what the sport is…. large portions tries to get unfair advantage..
    no matter what…..
    it's in human nature what comes to competitive sports of any kind

    and saying that its clean is little ridiculous, considering that there's a history of different substances is used for extensive periods of years,
    before WADA etc has had a clue about those.

    development of performance enhancement in various sports is more encouraged,
    than ever before…
    due of massive amounts of money in professional sports

  44. Maybe GCN could invest in an electric scooter, to use while filming segments like these? it will be so much quieter for when presenters are speaking while the camera and camera man are in a scooter ahead of them. #peaceandquiet 👍

  45. Micro-dosing… maybe … a little bit…. once in a controlled-while…

    Do a real video on cycling doping and controls.

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