How to fuel for a race with Madison-Genesis rider Tom Scully

Best known for his exploits on the track and in Tour Series races, Madison-Genesis' Tom Scully tells us what he eats on race day

Hailing from New Zealand, Tom Scully now lives and rides in the UK for British-based Pro Continental team Madison-Genesis.

This year he turned his attention away from the Pearl Izumi Tour Series and on to the track. There he won silver in the points race at the Track World Championships earlier in the year, before going on to claim gold in the same event at the Commonwealth Games.

After this success, the 24-year-old went back to the road, riding alongside his team-mates in the Tour of Britain. We spoke to Scully during the ToB to find out what he ate to get him through stage one, and prepare himself for the rest of the race.

Scully's race dat breakfast

Scully’s race day breakfast


Tom Scully: We had breakfast at around 8am. I had two poached eggs on wholemeal toast, as well as some muesli with fresh fruit, bio-yoghurt, a glass of orange juice and two cups of black coffee without sugar.

Cycling Weekly: When thinking about how to fuel for a race, you need to start properly right from breakfast. Scully had a solid start to the day, fuelling himself with eggs, which slowly release energy. Poached eggs are healthier — slightly lower in calories and fat — than scrambled or fried eggs, which contain butter, cream, milk or oil. The wholemeal bread contains more fibre and nutrients than white bread, making it a much better choice. Though relatively high in sugar, muesli is a healthier breakfast option than most other cereals, since it provides fibre to help regulate digestion. The nuts in the muesli are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The natural yoghurt Scully added provides probiotics, beneficial bacteria that help keep his immune system strong by increasing white blood cell activity, which in turn increases antibody production.

Pre-race: fuelled up and hydrated

Pre-race: fuelled up and hydrated


TS: At about 11am I had two small bowls of white rice with olive oil, black pepper and soy sauce. I drank a bottle of water. An hour before the start, I had a snack: a banana, with a bottle of water with an SiS hydro tab.

CW: As the stage didn’t start till 2.15pm, it was necessary for Scully to have an early meal to top up his glycogen stores before the race. Rice was a good source of fuel to get him through the event. Having a banana an hour before the start was perfect for ensuring he stayed on top of fuelling, as there was a good three hours to go before the start after he ate his meal.

During the race: keeping energy levels topped up

During the race: keeping energy levels topped up


TS: During the 100km race, I had one Go Bar and then two orange Go Gels. I got through two 500ml bottles of SiS Go Electrolyte on the bike, before finally having my favourite cola-flavoured SiS Go+ caffeine gel.

CW: Fuelling during a race is always important, and vital in a stage race. Not eating enough, even during a 100km stage, can have a knock-on effect over the following days. Scully keeps to what he knows: SiS products that he likes the taste of and which provide energy. A caffeine-infused gel near the end gives Scully an extra kick, increasing his alertness for the hectic finish. The electrolyte drink ensures he stays hydrated, and provides easily digested carbohydrates. Between one to two litres of fluid is lost during each hour of moderate-intensity exercise. Scully raced a little over two hours, meaning he drank the minimum needed during the race, and fully rehydrated later.

Post-race recovery is essential

Post-race recovery is essential


TS: I had an SiS Rego Rapid recovery shake while on the rollers after the finish and a bowl of white rice with olive oil again, this time with tuna, too. Later, I had a snack of a muesli bar and a banana. I continued gradually drinking after the race. Overall, I drank around two litres of water with SiS Hydro berry tabs to replenish lost electrolytes.

CW: When thinking about how to fuel for a race, recovery is a key part of the process, particularly on a stage race. Restoring lost energy and getting protein on board, to help repair muscles after the race, is vital. Having a recovery shake while on the rollers meant Scully got protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes straight after finishing. Shakes like this are designed to restore muscle glycogen quickly and provide amino acids for muscle repair. The rice and tuna eaten while cooling down add to the protein and carbohydrate. Drinking little and often after the race is the perfect way to rehydrate. Scully drank two litres of electrolyte drink, which was important, as he’d only got through one litre of liquid during the race.

Dinner: fuelling up for more racing the following day

Dinner: fuelling up for more racing the following day


TS: Mushroom soup with half-slices of brown bread and butter. I had a salad with beetroot, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, honey mustard dressing and two slices of cold beef, with a baked potato. Then I had pasta bolognese with Parmesan cheese and mixed veg. For a sweet post-dinner treat, I had three half-slices of white bread, butter and jam. To drink, I had sparkling water.

CW: Scully has a large evening meal to prepare for the long second stage. The salad and vegetables help keep his vitamin and mineral levels high, and may boost his immune system and fight off any germs. This is important during a hard stage race, as the body is under extra pressure, making it more susceptible to illness. Pasta is a staple in most cyclists’ diet, providing carbohydrates for fuelling muscles. Bolognese is good as it’s a meal Scully is used to and so won’t have any adverse effects. Some riders may opt for something a little naughtier, but Scully finishes with bread and jam to quench the sweet craving.

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