Team Sky head into the first rest day of the Tour de France with the maillot jaune safely on Chris Froome’s shoulders. However this isn’t a time for the team to rest on their laurels with as much planning going into a rest day schedule as the race itself.
James Morton, Team Sky nutritionist and SiS elite consultant explains that along with heading out for a gentle two hour ride, the riders also have a structured active recovery session they must abide to and follow themselves.
“Rider recovery is supported by physiotherapists and carers who assist with massages and stretches to aid recovery," he says. "They are also encouraged to manage their own recovery too, with the use of equipment such as foam rollers and by engaging in cold water immersion.”
Surprisingly, rest days and race days are very similar in terms of diet: “The basic components are carbohydrates, proteins and fats with plenty of fruits and vegetables on the side – the latter are eaten either cooked, raw or as smoothies.”
Despite the reduced riding load, protein and carbohydrate intake remains largely the same as race days to ensure muscle recovery and glycogen levels are optimised for the following day.
“On rest days, protein is consumed every three hours to promote this and to maintain lean muscle mass. Often riders accrue an energy deficit over a number of days of intense exercise, which can result in riders losing lean muscle mass on rest days. To prevent this they often take on easily digestible protein such as SiS WHEY20.”
However the consumption of carbohydrates is not solely about energy replenishment,
“Carbohydrates also support immune function when combined with a good intake of vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. We encourage riders to support their immune function as much as possible, as they can often become susceptible to coughs and colds due to the volume and intensity of exercise during a Grand Tour.”
Watch: How to make a Team Sky rider's breakfast
Team Sky have been pioneers when it comes to providing their riders with a consistent nights sleep, providing their own mattresses rather than relying on the roulette of French hotels.
But when it comes to rest days Froome and co will be able to enjoy them for a little bit longer.
“The amount and quality of sleep is key for riders throughout the Tour. On rest days, riders are allowed to sleep a little more but not so that it disturbs their routine.”
Rest Day Schedule
• 9.30am -10.00am – Riders permitted to sleep in for longer and awake by this time
• 10.00am – Breakfast
• 11.00am – Light ride lasting around 2 hours
• 1.00pm – Lunch and massage
• 3.00pm – Afternoon nap
• 4.00pm – Team brief
• 6.30pm – Dinner followed by an early night
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Paul Knott is a fitness and features writer, who has also presented Cycling Weekly videos as well as contributing to the print magazine as well as online articles. In 2020 he published his first book, The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide (Welbeck), a guide designed to help readers improve their cycling performance via cherrypicking from the strategies adopted by the pros.
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