Winning this century-old French bicycle race is to be Lance
Armstrong. If you’re not, then you’ll need years of training, incredible
power and stamina, several bikes, a coach, a sponsored team and at
least eight months of course preparation. Don’t forget a killer work
ethic, superhuman willpower and superb strategy: The Tour de France
is a test of human spirit as much as physical prowess.
Complete a single stage in the shortest time and you'll wear the coveted maillot jaune. The red-and-while polka-dot jersey goes to the King of the Mountains--the overall best climber. The most consistent finisher of all the stages (often a strong sprinter) wins the green jersey for most points, while the white jersey is awarded to the top finisher under the age of 25.
Begin your Tour de France training in November in order to get optimum results come July. For example, if you're shooting for the 2007 race, start your training program in November of '06.
Develop the ability to accelerate quickly to high speeds. Work on speed and endurance at least once a week. Set specific distances and track your times. Alternate all-out rides at top speed with slower rides in order to recover fully during training.
Develop explosive power and focus on your climbing stamina. While the rabbits might take some of the flatter stages, when the race moves into the brutal mountain passes, you'll be able to make your move. Ride all the mountain stages--which include jaunts through the Pyrenees and the Alps--relentlessly in the months leading up to the race. Study the course particularly as it approaches the finish line for each stage in order to take full advantage of strategy and tactics during the race itself.
Race the Individual Time Trials, where riders start at set intervals and cannot give or receive a draft. Then it's on to the Team Time Trials, where team members strive for the lowest cumulative time.