How the pros prepare for the Tour: Mountain-stage recon with AG2R Citroën

During the hallowed offseason that professional riders cherish so much, they are often interrupted by team camps. They’re dragged away by their respective teams for all-important get-togethers, a few cases weeks away from the solace of residence squander getting to know new teammates, cramming the miles in, having a multitude of tests, and generally preparing for the upcoming season.

But that doesn’t only happen in the offseason. During the year riders are again shipped off to team camps- multiple smaller jaunts away, slotted in between what could very well be a heavy race schedule. That’s right , not just one, but multiple. Weeks away from home, where the daily distractions of home life don’t exist; where instead, vigor can be ploughed into achieving that all-important form.

Back in late May, an email dropped into my inbox from the AG2R Citroen Team. It was an invitation: would I like to tag along on one of those upcoming camps for a period? Silly question, genuinely. Heck, why not!

The fact that it was also being held in the Alpine commune in the eastern French department of Haute-Savoie, built it a no-brainer. A perfectly lovely location, great ride, and on top of all this, it was just a short drive from my home in Annecy.

Sun shining, journalists in attendance, team car loaded with food- must be recon day.

Even though Le Grand-Bornand is a popular skiing destination, it’s not quite principle if you’re after a locating for altitude training. At “only” 1,300 metres, it sits a good 900 m below the stature where all those gains from being at altitude kick in. But I tell you, it sure stirs for a very picturesque, challenging, destination for a training camp. Scenic, quiet at this time of the year, and usually sunny.

Unfortunately for the small group of riders in attendance- including Benoit Cosnefroy, Oliver Naesen, Greg Van Avermaet, Michael Schar, Clement Venturini, and Dorian Godon- the weather for most of the week’s camp didn’t deliver the sun that was expected. Instead, storms, rainfall and snow saluted the riders each morning- winter coats and rainwater jackets were well in use. That was until the last day, which just happened to be the working day I turned up.

Sunshine cut through the morning fog sitting on the mountain crests, wintertime tights were left jam-pack away in suitcases, torrent jackets were stashed in the following team car, and smiles were currently for the final day of camp. The route for the day’s instructing: the challenging climbings in the decisive final 90 km of stage 8 of the upcoming Tour de France.

Sprint training, even on a mountain stage recon.

I can hear some of you thinking” these people must know half of France’s good streets by now, especially the riders with multiple Tours in their legs. Why recon streets they’ve tackled probably multiple times, specially a stage that finishes in a town which considered brand-new recruit Greg Van Avermaet arrive in yellow-bellied, lane back in the very best age-old pre-COVID periods of 2018 ?” Ahh, the recollections!

Well, I threw this to them. I could quite easily tell you here in the clause that they told me a good pro is like a good boy scout- well prepared- and that it’s never a bad thing to refresh your memory and legs as to where and when the road tilts, where the good opportunities are to take on vital fuel, and where to sit in. Instead, I’ll force you to watch the video and find out that bit …

Oh, bugger, I just realised what I’ve done there …

Either way, delight delve into the video above. The period with the team was enlightening and expend hour chatting( with disguises on) with GVA and the rest of the team gave me a bit more insight into what goes on behind the scenes for those all-important Tour stages.

The post How the pros prepare for the Tour: Mountain-stage recon with AG2R Citroen showed first on CyclingTips.

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