Are you teaching stages of the Tour de France in your Spinning/cycling classes? I’ve got some resources for you. I’ve been teaching TDF stages since I first started teaching Spinning and find it to be one of the most fun ways of coaching a class. If you’ve never done it before, I encourage you to try. Students, even those who don’t follow cycling or ride outside, generally enjoy these classes immensely. It’s hard not to—they have everything we love about indoor cycling: high energy, passion, excitement, intensity, and the mind-body focus. Throw in some strategy and intrigue and you have a recipe for huge success!
You don’t have to be a super expert to lead Tour stages, but you should know how a stage race like the TDF is run, what the different types of profiles are, what the GC is a what the jerseys represent, and of course, a little bit about the team and individual strategy. Of course, the ICA Tour de France package (with the 90-minute video presentation and 48-page handbook) spoon-feeds all of this to you, plus much much more. But if that’s not possible, you can also learn a lot from reading a book like Tour de France for Dummies, and even from watching the Tour on television—especially if you watch it with someone who knows the TDF really well and can explain it to you.
A Great Animated Video
If you’ve got a screen and projector, and can connect to the Internet, this would be kind of fun to show during a warm-up for a stage!
Chris Carmichael Newsletters
If you aren’t signed up for Chris Carmichael’s newsletters, you might want to do so, even if just for the Tour. He gives some great insight. This was his most recent, and this was the pre-race edition with lots of great information.
Another good mailing list to get on with daily updates is from Bicycling magazine.
When you watch the Tour on television, make sure to keep a notebook handy. This is for two reasons. First, you can jot down what you learn about team strategy as well as about an individual rider’s strategy, what the riders say in interviews before and after the stage, and notes about how that stage played out if you are thinking of simulating that particular day’s ride. But also, write down the colorful descriptions of the announcers so you can use them in your own coaching. If you are in the US, you have Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, and Bob Roll to entertain you with their colorful metaphors and descriptions. Other announcers in various countries also have a particular style of describing the valiant efforts of the cyclists. These are often fabulous ways to liven up your own coaching, and not just for race simulations.
In the ICA TDF package, one of the bonuses is a list of over 300 different quotes, metaphors, and descriptions from many different Tours, compiled from years of watching the Tour. In this year’s Tour, as usual, I’ve been writing down some more (though I missed the first three stages because my Internet was down! How dare the Internet go down for the stages in Corsica!).
Below are a handful of new cues for you from Phil Liggett (PL) and Paul Sherwen (PS) to give you an idea of the ICA package bonus:
- He’ll never be the same bike rider again having worn that golden fleece on his shoulders. (PS on Daryl Impy in yellow)
- They need in excess of one minute before they can start dreaming of success. (PS on a breakaway)
- They’re doomed! Doomed! (PL on a break about to be caught)
- That Cannondale may be a cannonball when they launch that salvo in the final kilometers! (PS)
- One by one the Cannondale boys are swinging off as they deliver their man to the finish line. (PS)
- They sat up, their day is done. (PL on a team who has done most of the pace setting)
- They’re filled with consternation at the front end of this peloton. (PL)
- He said, “I don’t want these sandbags on my hot air balloon,” so he dropped them and flew away. (PS on a rider breaking away from the breakaway group)
- He just looked to his back wheel and pointed to it as if to say, “Sit there!” (PS on the Colombian Quintana overtaking a solo break and inviting him to jump on his wheel)
- He cannot stay at the pace that’s been dictated by Quintana, and has been dropped.
- A moment ago he was on the attack, but now he’s off the back. That’s what happens in cycling. (PL)
- Reblon looking for the power to stay attached, looking for the slipstream, but he can’t hold on. He’s zigzaggin’ across the road. (PS on a solo rider getting passed by another)
- He’s about to get caught by the charging front end of the peloton.
- The white jersey is slipping away; he’s sliding back from the main group.
- All of a sudden you throw the Pyrénées in there and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. (PS)
- We are down to five riders in this leading group plus one up front. Boy this has ripped the Tour apart! (PL)
- The hammer is down! (PL)
- He’s been itching for this day. Froome has been impatient for the mountains to arrive. (PL)
- He’s putting as much time as possible into the bank on this first day in the Pyrénées.
- He’s so full of fight, he’s driving hard on that bike. He’s suffering in silence. (PL on Froome)
- One thousand meters to the yellow jersey; his legs won’t slow down because he’s just around the corner from yellow. (PL on Froome driving to the finish, where he takes over the yellow jersey)
- The damage done today in the Pyrénées is enormous.
- He’s disappointed with his finish. It all went to pieces on the final climb of the day, but there are many more battles starting tomorrow. (PL on Contador)
- They wanted to lay down the law on this first mountain stage.
- Contador will be licking his wounds from way down in the GC.
How about seven complete exciting stages, complete with all the coaching you need to sound like an expert? Here is a description of the seven stages included in the ICA Tour de France package:
- Stage 3 on the island of Corsica. I call this one “The Suitcase of Courage” because that’s what you need to carry with you on a stage with so many attacks. Corsica has a three-thousand-year history of being attacked, so it’s a perfect theme for this ride on one of the most beautiful places on earth to ride a bike!
- Stage 4, the team time trial. Bryon has raced in team time trials, so he tells it like it REALLY is! You won’t believe the engaging way he shows you how to teach this thrilling race.
- Stage 7, the rolling hills of southern France. Tom Scotto coaches this transition stage to culminate in a fabulous sprint.
- Stage 8, the first day in the Pyrénées. Robert calls this one “Ax the Peloton,” a play on words because it finishes in Ax Trois Domaines, and the peloton is splintered over two brutal climbs.
- Stage 15, Le Mont Ventoux. I call this one “Riding on the Moon” and there are numerous references (and songs) about the moon. That’s what the top of this barren peak looks like, and feels like to the riders. This epic stage ends with the yellow jersey cracking, and two riders battling it out, you and your students. Who will win?
- Stage 18, Alpe d’Huez. Tom calls this ride “Two the Pain” because they are doing Alpe d’Huez twice! (And it’s a reference to the movie The Princess Bride.) Tom focuses on the work the domestiques do to deliver their team leaders to the front, where they can unleash their power.
- Stage 19, four brutal climbs in the Alpes. Robert calls this stage “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” You’ll be able to present two options to your students: should they stay back with the peloton and take it easier at first and drive a high tempo later on, or should they be on the attack with a lot of high-energy efforts early on, but crushed by the peloton towards the end?