I tried eating like a Tour de France rider for a day - here’s how I coped with the huge calorie intake

The mountains of food Tour de France riders have to chomp through are nearly as daunting as the cols themselves. I tried to find out what is it actually like to eat for a Tour de France stage

Bowl of pasta and a protein drink on a kitchen surface
(Image credit: Future)

A 70kg rider pedalling hard burns approximately 1,000kcal per hour. Riders in this year’s Tour de France will cover 3,405km, and if we assume an average speed of 40kph, that’s 85 hours of riding – burning in the region of 83,000kcal, or 4,000kcal per stage. That’s a very rough estimate, of course, and doesn’t take into account the ‘tickover’ energy needed to keep the body functioning 24/seven, but it hammers home the magnitude of the eating challenge: 83,000kcal is the equivalent of 64kg of pasta or 44 loaves of bread – literally gut-busting quantities of food that the pros have to eat to compete in the Tour de France. I wanted to find out how they do it and just how difficult it is to keep up with the vast energy demands of the race. So I decided to find out – by fuelling like a pro for a day. 

Rather than sitting on the couch ordering takeaways all day, I would mimic a Tour de France competitor’s fuelling while riding the equivalent of a demanding stage. I had neither the time nor budget to do this experiment in France on an actual route from the race (sob!), so I needed to choose a stage I could replicate on the Northern English parcours on my doorstep. Stage 10 from the 2022 edition of the Tour de France, from Morzine to Megève looked ideal: a relentlessly hilly 148km. 

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Tom Couzens
Freelance Writer

Tom Couzens is a racing cyclist currently representing The Ribble Collective on the road and the Montezumas cyclo-cross team off road. His most notable results include winning the Monmouth GP national series race as a junior; finishing sixth in the 2022 British National Cyclo-cross Championships; and he was selected to represent Great Britain at the European Cyclo-cross Championships in 2020/21. Tom draws on his high-level racing experience and knowledge to help Cycling Weekly readers maximise their potential and get as much as possible out of their riding.