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What do Tour riders do on a rest day?

Joseph Delves
11 Jul 2017

After a torrid mountain stage you’d think the rest-day might see riders relaxing, instead they’re straight back on the bike

Like office workers stumbling back from a festival, after a big weekend in the mountains the Tour de France took this Monday off work.

With many riders still feeling sore from a frantic stage that saw more crashes and breakaways than many whole races, you might imagine they’d be keen to spend as much time away from the bike as possible.

However, for most riders the rest day means more of the same: more riding, more pasta and more physiotherapy.

With Sunday’s stage finishing in Le Puy-en-Velay, and Tuesday’s starting in the same place the riders don't have to worry about transferring between venues. However, although they might have been permitted a bit of a lie-in, despite heavy rain most were back on their bikes yesterday. Some teams such as Sky, Sunweb, LottoNl-Jumbo and Katusha-Alpecin went out together, but plenty of other riders took the opportunity to briefly escape from their teammates.

When they’re not riding or crammed onto the team bus most riders will also share hotel rooms. The rest day is one of the few opportunities to get some time alone.

Riding hard everyday for three weeks, two rest day rides are an opportunity to try and free up the legs and flush any residual lactic acid out of the muscles.

Most riders will go out for a couple of hours, at the sort of pace that wouldn’t trouble most club riders. The intention is simply to stop the legs coming to an abrupt halt, leading to further suffering when the race reconvenes.

Here are some Strava-based insights into what some of the pros got up to:

Sunweb ride:

Mike Teunissen - 34.6km ride, average speed 26.5km/h, average power 121W, 34% Intensity

Warren Barguil

LottoNl-Jumbo ride:

Paul Martens – 25.5km ride, average speed 25.7km/h, average power 95W

Timo Roosen – average power 111W

Katusha ride:

Alexander Kristoff – 41.6km ride, average speed 29.8km/h

Reto Hollenstein – average heart rate 100bpm / max heart rate 150bpm

Tiago Machado

Others:

Michal Kwiatkowski, Team Sky: 26.5km ride, average speed 28.1km/h

Olivier le Gac, FDJ: 32.9km ride, average speed 26.5km/h

Danilo Wyss, BMC: 38.2km ride, average speed 23.9km/h

Marcus Burghardt, Bora Hansgrohe: 7.5km ride, average speed 20.7km/h, average power 92W

Lilian Calmejane, Direct Energie: 24.3km ride, average speed 24.4km/h, average power 137W, Intensity 45%

Damiano Caruso, BMC: 35.4km ride, average speed 23.7km/h

Of course the Tour is also a media circus, and the rest day provides an opportunity to fulfil some sponsorship commitments, with many squads giving press conferences, such as Team Sunweb's.

Only Team Katusha Alpecin’s Rick Zabel seemed determined to live the dream, relaxing by a distinctly chilly looking swimming pool

Today’s 10th stage is another flat one. So with the exception of the sprinters and their lead out men it should be a relatively easy reintroduction to the race.

Although given the way this Tour is panning out few riders will be taking that for granted.

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