If you aren’t quite sure whether the Indoor Cycling Association Tour de France program is right for you, and want to see more about what our profiles are like, below are excerpts of a variety of stages. These include everything from emotional rolling hills, brutal windy flat stages, gut-busting time trials, and epic summits of hors catégorie cols, to the dramatic finish in Paris.
In the profile samples below, I've provided a description of the stage and/or a segment of some of the cueing. Some are cues from the beginning where you explain the stage to your riders, others are a piece of the action midway through the ride.

You'll see that ICA profiles provide a dramatic story line and awesome, authentic cueing for you to use. But remember, it’s not like you have to teach these profiles word for word—we hope you embellish them, or add more cues from our resource guide, and put your own stamp on it. Instructors who use our TDF profiles tell us over and over again we make them look like rock stars! They often mix and match our profiles, or alter past profiles a bit to create current stages from this year.

We have a great resource guide with cues for attacks and breakaways, and another resource filled with witticisms of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. These are divided into categories such as sprinting, being a domestique, suffering, riding in the peloton, and more. Along with the cues in our profiles, these resources help you sound much more authentic.

We provide song suggestions for each profile (including some awesome French songs). We are known for powerful songs to match the heightened drama of these stories we provide you! 

2016 Stage Samples

Stage 2: Saint-Lo / Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
Wind and Rollers

Profile Objective and Intensity

We will join the riders at the 83-km point, leaving 100 km left to race (62 miles). They have traveled through undulating terrain with a few classified climbs, and are now heading along the flatter coastline. With headwinds and crosswinds, riders will need to stay close for protection, forming pacelines with whoever is nearby. The last part of the route is very spiky with quick ups and downs, but nothing serious until the final climb. Yes, stage 2 has an uphill finish and includes a 14% segment that will challenge the legs of the sprinters who would normally excel in a stage like this, provided their team does a good job of delivering them to the finish

(Midway through the stage)

Song #3 Hello, Wind!
Let the Rhythm Just, The Polish Ambassador, 5:55, 98 bpm

You are going to divide the class into three groups so you can simulate pacelines. Do this by counting them off or designating sections of your class as 1, 2, and 3. Get them ready to start by the 2nd minute of the song so you have 5 minutes.

I’m going to divide you into three groups so we can simulate pacelines during the first half where the roads are flatter. When there’s a headwind, you’ll take turns alternating the lead that are about 45 seconds long. If there’s a crosswind, however, those turns will only be 15 to 30 seconds, to simulate the very punchy efforts that will be required.

For the second half, we’ll get into some rolling hills, which may protect us slightly from the wind…maybe.

Right now we have a headwind, so you’re going to line yourselves up behind whatever riders are near you. Imagine that you are a sprinter on your team, and you have one of your teammates with you. If worse comes to worst and you get separated from a paceline, you’ll have each other.

Guide them through a paceline, alternating the lead every 45 seconds. As the name of the song suggests, tell them to “let the rhythm just” establish itself as they ride. When they are in front, their intensity increases to high Zone 3; when they are drafting they are low Zone 3.

Song #4 Crosswinds
Take it From Me, Kongos, 3:11, 86 bpm

The wind shifts to their left side. Change the alternating pulls to every 20 to 30 seconds. This time, however, when they are leading, they push to threshold.

The road has shifted, meaning the wind is now pummeling us from the left. You’ll have to work harder when you’re in the lead. Take your effort to right above threshold, working hard against the wind. Not breathless, mind you, because you won’t be doing your teammates any favors if you’re so winded after your pull that you can’t grab the wheel when you drop back.

Stage 9: Vielha Val d'Aran / Andorre Arcalis
The Andorran Steps

Profile Description

The previous hard day in the Pyrenees should have whittled down the GC to just the main contenders; it may not have been a stage where a rider could win the Tour but they could certainly lose it if they’d had a bad day. After today’s stage it’ll be a rest day, which will encourage some very aggressive racing. Breakaway riders will be seeking glory but, as a GC contender, today is the day for weeding out those with tired legs and narrowing down the race for the maillot jaune to just one or two rivals.

La Seu d’Urgell: Introduction and Warm-up

Set the scene and introduce the ride. Today, we’re GC contenders and we’re looking to distance ourselves from most of our opponents by setting a hard tempo up the climbs. Remind riders that this is not a tactical ride, with repeated sudden attacks, we’re looking to attack each climb in their entirety as if they were each a short time trial.

Côte de la Comella
Supernova, Transa, 6:23

The first climb should be taken at merciless pace to either eliminate your opposition or weaken them before the subsequent climbs. You want go as hard as you can sustain but not so hard that you won’t be able to repeat it, i.e., Zone 5a. For those that aren’t sure about their abilities or their training zones, get them to hold a strong but quite uncomfortable pace (approx Zone 4) for the first half of the climb before “putting the hammer down” all the way to the summit.

2015 Stage Samples

Stage 14: Rodez / Mende

The stage finishes with a Category 2, a Category 4, and another Category 2 climb in fairly quick succession. Will it be hard? Oh yes! Check out the image below of the final climb to Mende. It’s only 3 km but most of it is over 10%. This one would hurt to walk up! On your bike, it will most definitely put you in the pain cave. Even cresting the top won’t be a relief, since it will be a mad dash to the finish line. Sprinting after a full-on, gut-busting climb like this is not something that comes easy.

Equinox 7, Jean Michel Jarre, 5:35, 81 bpm

Back in Stage 10, you experienced some brutal intensities delivered by the attacking armies on the flat roads. Today, we are going to do this stage just a little differently. Instead of being a domestique sent out on the hunt by your team leader to chase down breakaways and attack other riders, today your role is going to be the team leader. Normally, a team leader would need to establish his place in the GC in the early climbs of the Pyrenees, then towards the end of the Tour in the Alps, he would need to make up lost time, or solidify his lead.

Today, a little more than halfway through the Tour, you are a GC contender that needs to be protected by his team. With this route, the peloton will likely stay together for the entire stage, save for a breakaway group or two. But the peloton isn’t going to aggressively hunt down those breaks today, until the last climbs towards the end.

That long flat section isn’t really flat…it’s a false flat. You’re going to see our cadence starting out quick, but gradually slowing down until we hit the base of the first Category 2 climb. The peloton will keep a high tempo pace on that section, but as long as you envision yourself tucked behind your teammates, protected from the wind, you’ll be riding mostly at a moderate pace, in Zone 3. You may fluctuate a little bit within this zone, perhaps sneaking into Zone 4 for short sections, but mark my words, you’re going to want to save a little bit.

Because…as the road turns upward for those three steep climbs that come in quick succession, your team strategy is to get to the front of the peloton and drive the pace. Your teammates will probably turn themselves inside out for you, with the goal of delivering you close to the front for a win, or at least a top-three finish. But, who knows. The best laid plans don’t always turn out the way we want them to! Get ready for some brutal work ahead…

Stage 3: Anvers / Huy
Mur de Huy

This day of the Tour de France will look more like a one-day classic profile than a normal early stage. It follows much the same route as the one-day Spring Classic race, La Flèche Wallone, and features what has been called the longest kilometer in racing, the final ascent of the Mur de Huy, with gradients over 20%!


Mur de Huy!
Unbreakable, Fireflight, 3:26

Have the class add a high amount of resistance. They should be targeting a high Zone 4, low Zone 5 effort. This climb has some sections that rise over 20% gradient. It’s like the slowest sprint in the world for these last 3.5 minutes.

Our final climb! Now we are the team leader and we need to deliver the stage win for our team. They’ve worked so hard for us all day—let’s reward that hard work.Make sure you keep just a little in the tank to finish this off. Right now just stick to your main rival’s wheel and don’t let them get a gap!

With about 1 minute remaining in the song:

You’re still on your rival’s wheel and now is the time to finish the job! Come up out of the saddle and bring it home over the Mur! They crowds are huge and they are chanting your name! You glance up and see the finishing flag. Hold on to that pace up what can only be described as a brutal climb!

And as you come over the crest of the climb and cross the line, you’ve done it!

Stage 6: Abbeville / Le Havre

Note: This is a unique profile in that we teach you how to coach pacelines into a headwind as well as with crosswinds (echelons). The information can be used in any potentially windy stage (as many coastal ones are).

Profile Description

This profile is different than our traditional terrain-based profiles in that it deals with a natural element that is invisible yet very real when encountered by the TDF peloton: the wind. While the wind is a part of every TDF stage, it can invisibly yet decisively shuffle the GC (General Classification) leaderboard in a manner similar to a trip up Alpe d’Huez.

Objective and Intensity

The objective of this profile is to simulate some of the conditions you would expect to find during a windy TDF stage such as Stage 6. Of course, wind is not a factor in an indoor cycling studio, but you could manufacture wind-like conditions by bringing some large fans into the studio. Since our bikes are stationary, fans would not accurately create the bluster of a headwind or crosswind, but they could create an interesting mental training perspective of always feeling the wind on face or skin.

This profile will seek to simulate the intensity and mental toughness of riding into a heavy headwind for a long period of time. We will also simulate the surges of intensity needed to stay coupled to the draft of the rider in front, or when you are called to sit on the tip of the arrow and cut a hole in the wind for your teammates.

2014 Stage Samples

Stage 5: Ypres / Arenberg Porte de Hainaut

***Along with Stage 3 from 2013, and the bonus Alpe d'Huez profile, instructors have told me this is among their favorites of our TDF packages! The cobblestones are brutally fun!***

The start in Ypres is particularly poignant, as it marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Profile Objective and Intensity

Starting in Ypres, the race heads back across the border into France and takes the riders over the dreaded cobblestones that make the Paris–Roubaix Classic so special. Your riders will treat the flat cobblestone sectors more like climbs. Typically riders shift to a higher gear and slow the legs down (70–85 rpm) so they have more control on these rough segments of road. The pavé sectors should be done at about threshold intensity. There are 11.5 minutes of pavé in this profile.

You can coach this profile as hard as you want, but if you have less fit students, make sure to provide alternatives. There isn’t a lot of recovery in between the cobbled segments (the second half of the profile), so as you push your riders, make sure to look around and see how everyone is doing. Encourage them to ease up in between the pavé sectors if needed. If everyone is up for it, you can hover just below and up to threshold for almost the entire second half, with the brief explosive intermediate sprint and the final anaerobic push to the finish.

The Impending Pavé
Lose Yourself, Eminem, 171 bpm, 5:21

This song has a lot of meaning at this point in the race. As soon as the song starts, tell them:

Look, I know you are afraid of the cobbles ahead, especially if they are muddy. They have taken up too much space in your head. But you know what? You’ve got only one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you’ve ever wanted. Listen up here!

Then let Eminem speak for a while (he starts speaking at 30 seconds into the song). Have them drive their legs at the rhythm of the song, 85 rpm, at an intensity of high Zone 3, with a few surges to Zone 4.

Go ahead and stand up for short periods during the first 3 minutes of this song.Two minutes before the end of the song, remind them how to ride the approaching pavé.

These pavé sectors will put mind, body, and bike to the test. When you are on the pavé sectors, remember, it’s important to stay seated. Use the power of your mind to visualize yourself on the dangerous road. Imagine the jostling amongst the riders, picture the people on the sidelines, feel the mud and dirt splashing on your face. Turn up your resistance to simulate a bigger gear, and stay seated; drive from your heart and soul. It’s not a sprint, it’s not above threshold, but it’s a concerted effort, slightly higher than the paved road in between. We can stand up in between the cobbles if needed.

There are 9 sections of pavé, and each will be anywhere from 1 to just over 2 minutes. It will be like intervals with minimum recovery in between. Are you ready?

2013 Stage Samples

Stage 3: Ajaccio / Calvi
The Suitcase of Courage

***Along with the bonus Alpe d'Huez profile, this has gotten more feedback from more instructors than any other. Allie told me, "Jennifer, I love all your TDF profiles, but this one truly tops the rest as one of the most dramatic. Of course I now have a "Suitcase of Courage" I bring with me to teach this ride! My class absolutely loved the challenge and has begged me to do it again. I'll be using this throughout the year!***

This stage is unusual for so early in the Tour de France. It’s very rugged, with short steep uphills and dangerous fast downhills. Even the downhills often have short uphills, so you can’t just fly downhill. There is very little chance for recovery. Because of the terrain, there will be certain riders salivating for a breakaway that succeeds, which rarely happens, especially on the typically flatter early stages. But this stage is anything but typical. This stage represents a chance for non-sprinting specialist riders to make a name for themselves earlier in the Tour than usual. You can expect an early breakaway, and perhaps several of them! And no doubt, a lot of attacks along the way.

Désires, Metatuk, 4:33, 168 bpm

Describe the above scenario during the warm-up, adding any brief information you want to about the turbulent history of Corsica and how it’s no stranger to attacks. Tell the class that you will describe the race as if you’re a TV announcer, going back and forth from the lead group to the chase group, and occasionally back to the peloton. As a rider, they have a choice. They can decide to take it easier and ride in the shelter of the peloton, avoiding any aggressive attacks and/or the early sprint or the sprint at the finish. Or, they can decide to be a part of any or all of the attacks. As you move back and forth between the different groups, they can “change” and become a different rider. For the most part, you want them to imagine they are an elite rider in the lead group.

But, I have an important question for you: Did you pack your suitcase? >>Long pause<< Which suitcase am I talking about? Well, your suitcase of courage of course! You’re definitely going to need it today, especially on this island that is no stranger to attacks or violence! One of the things you’ll need to pack in that suitcase is your bravery cloak! I think you’ll be wrapping yourself with it a few times.

Stage 15: Givors / Mont Ventoux
Riding on the Moon

We join the stage about 3/4 of the way, just before the final climb, at kilometer 182 in the town of Nyons. What has happened thus far on this roller coaster stage? As expected, there was an early break made up of four eager riders. It was expected because to get a podium finish on the summit of the Giant of Provence, one has to be either really, really strong, or really, really cunning. These breakaway riders are relying on both, but they’ll especially need their cunning to even come close to the power output of the top riders of the GC. By trying to get as much of an advantage as they can early on, they may possibly have a chance

. …or not. It depends on the desires of the chase group and of the peloton. The break’s chance of success is a slim one, but it is a chance nonetheless. If they do, they will be written into the history books of cycling, and that is a pretty attractive goal for many pro cyclists!

Tell your class that they are going to represent the chase group for most of this stage, although you will go back and forth to check in on the peloton and the lead group. The nine riders in the chase group are three Heads of State, including the yellow jersey, plus their two best super domestiques. You and your class represents the two team leaders who are NOT the yellow jersey, and you will be relying on your domestiques to pull you to the top of this mountain. You’ll have to work with the yellow jersey, at least for the first half or more of the climb. But the two of you have other ideas in mind…

(Fast forward to later in the race, approaching the summit…)

Attacks to the Summit
Preliator, Globus, 4:28, 144 bpm

The yellow jersey has cracked! (Say that with great emotion, just like a TV announcer!) He’s falling off the back, struggling to get back on our wheels, but he must have hit the red zone and cannot come back. His legs are unwilling, his spirit broken. But you and me? We are triumphant—that’s what you get when you suffer—you get results! Now it’s time to say goodbye to our own teammates, our super loyal worker bees who have turned themselves into complete mush for us.

You know what that means, don’t you? It’s down to YOU (point to your class, and hesitate for a moment)…and ME! We are the last two riders on this mountain! This mountain has produced the truth, and we are it. We had a mutual opponent until this point, we worked together…but now, we have to draw our swords against each other. Both of us cannot be victorious. There will be no gifts!

Stage 18: Gap / Alpe-d'Huez
“Two the Pain”—Alpe d’Huez x 2

Profile Overview

With two epic ascents up Alpe d’Huez, this stage cannot be classified by anything but pain. In order not to delay the drama, this profile will start at the base of the first ascent of Alpe d’Huez. It is also a great ride to expose riders to the “team” aspect of bike racing. The profile provides a proverbial peeling back of the team onion as the different types of riders are shed while the duration, severity, and intensity of the mountains take their toll on the peloton.

The Basic Storyline

We are going to pick up the race 76 miles in as the peloton approaches the base of Alpe d’Huez for the first time. For the purposes of our story, we will imagine that the peloton is still together as they approach the base of the climb. Within the first dramatic minutes of climbing the sprinters are immediately placed in difficulty and shelled off the back of the group. This sets the stage for the domestiques to set the initial tempo up the climb. They manage to pull the peloton, mostly in its entirety, to the first summiting of Alpe d’Huez. The short but still steep climb up the Col de Sarenne unleashes a series of attacks by lesser-known climbers who are just out for glory and some mountain points. Some of the peloton regroups on the descent but it is the final ascent up Alpe d’Huez that lands the fatal blow. Riders are exhausted, which provides good opportunity for the climbing lieutenants to throw down a vicious tempo, shattering the lead group. They hold on as long as possible until the leaders—sensing their fatigue—attack. The leaders battle it out until a lone rider decides to gamble with a blistering solo attempt to the summit.

2012 Stage Samples

Stage 9: Arc-et-Senans / Besançon
A Time Trial Simulation

Note: this profile can be used for any time trial simulation, including the two time trials in the 2016 Tour.

Profile Description

The time trial (TT) is often called the “race of truth.” It is a timed race of man and machine against the clock. The rider that finishes the pre-specified course in the least amount of time is the winner! There is no peloton for drafting, no place to hide and save energy; it is simply pedaling, breathing, and turning the pedals—HARD! While the notion of time trialing is quite straightforward—be wickedly fit so you can ride fast—there is strategy, along with a tremendous amount of mental skills that are needed to effectively master this essential bike racing discipline.

(After the long warm-up, riders are in the start house)

Start House:

Once your legs are “open” you will want to keep your engine hot and revving and your legs open by pedaling steady at your race cadence with light to moderate resistance. Roll for 2 minutes and prepare for the start house.

 2-minute steady pedal @ Zone 3.

At 1 minute and 30 seconds, get the riders into the starting gate (house) and have then stop pedaling, do a countdown: 5-4-3-2-1, GO!

The first part of the TT is all about getting the bike up to speed, then getting into a rhythm, for pedaling and for breathing.

This is a VERY hard 30-minute effort. If they did their openers, their heart rate should come right up to Zone 5 and then hold the intensity solidly in Zone 5. If their heart rate does not respond right away, they should continue to focus on rhythm and building power.

The cuing for the 30 minutes is fairly simple: ride hard, ride powerfully, push your legs to the limit, and think “leave nothing in the tank,” "don’t hold back”!

Stage 20: Rambouillet / Paris
Champagne on the Champs

(Note: you can use this exact same profile for this year’s Stage 21, as most of your time will be spent in the 8 laps on the Champs Elysée)

Profile Objective and Intensity:

This is the last stage of the Tour, with the traditional finish on the Champs-Élysées. I do not think any riders will be able to slip under the radar of the sprinters' teams and get away for a solo victory, so it should come down to a sprint on the finishing straight. Also, due to the lack of a dominating sprint train to “boss” the race, sprinters may have to "freelance it" and latch on to lead-out riders from rival teams. These two factors should make it a very tense and exciting race, as the pace is wound up lap after lap until the peloton reaches speeds of 60-70km/h before the sprinters kick in at 70-80km/h.

(Midway through the laps in Paris)

Lap 3, Zone 4, 4mins / Intermediate Sprint, Zone 5a-c

The Power, Snap! 3:44

We’re winding up the pace even higher, just below threshold, preventing any attacks that might ruin our chances of the Green Jersey. A team leader may try to send a rider into a suicide attack just to take vital points away from us, so we have to keep the tempo high! Build up the atmosphere, the tension, the edginess in the peloton as your rivals for the points competition prepare for the Intermediate Sprint. Initiate the sprint at 3:23 for 20 seconds at maximal effort (Zone 5a-5c).

Value Pack Bonus Profile!
Alpe d'Huez: One Rider's Journey from
Suffering to Triumph 

This is a very popular, dramatic profile Jennifer Sage originally created for WSSC and other conferences. It's unlike any other profile you've ever ridden. The story is delivered as if you are the mind of a domestique at his first Tour de France. He’s worked hard for his team the whole stage, and he fears he’s one of the last riders, not sure if he will make the cutoff time. He’s filled with emotion, he’s suffering, he’s doubting his future, he wants to quit. But then, he achieves a newfound vigor partway up the 21 switchbacks of Alpe d’Huez and ends up triumphant.

This very emotional and dramatic profile is now available as a BONUS when the entire five-year ICA Tour de France package is purchased. The profile includes all of the empowering cues that have left many participants in tears. Even when Alpe d’Huez is not a part of the Tour, this profile is a wonderful special class to offer your riders any time of the year. It is guaranteed to leave your riders with a heightened belief in themselves!

Ready to add the Tour de France package to your teaching repertoire?