Starting Off-season training for next year's L'etape du Tour

I’m ready to start my off-season training which will include weight training and lots of zone 2 base training. I’m planning on doing 1 long ride each week. What’s the best way to determine how long that first ride should be, as that will determine how much I need to increase it each week. Is there some metric I should be looking at while riding, or just ride at zone 2 until I’m starting to feel like I don’t have much left in the tank? Thanks!


Hi Doug, what is your starting point? Are you starting from scratch or do you already ride regulary?


This is definitely a it depends answer.

It depends on your current riding? Given my current long ride is 50-60 miles each weekend and when I wasn’t nursing an injury that wouldn’t be just z2. In 2019 I was doing 100mile rides at least once per month of various elevations and one month did one 100+ each weekend.


I do ride regularly and just finished the four week time trial plan by coach Pav as I was preparing for a sprint tri with my younger brother. I am averaging 18-20mph on those training rides over 1h15. I did finish the letape du tour this past July which was 105 miles with 15,000 ft climbing but it took 11 hours :grimacing:


I agree with the other comments here. Start with what you can do right now, for example 1h15. Then start to gently increase. Perhaps just initially with 10% by how you feel.


I would also query how much time you have to spend in zone 2 over the winter? If it isn’t a really large amount, you probably aren’t going to see the same results as approaching base training with a more threshold/sweetspot methodology.


I can easily do an 1h15 at higher than zone 2. The time trial plan i finished was just maxed at 1h15 rides at high power intervals. My question is I could probably go do a 5h zone 2 ride tomorrow but not sure how to gauge if that was too much to start. Are there metrics I should be following? Like should i aim to maintain a percentage of my ftp over the 5 hours and once I can’t maintain that then that’s where my starting point is? Thanks!

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Welcome @DougK and thanks for the post!

Agree with what people are posting here. The main factor here will be what you can currently do and extending it. If you’ve been doing 1h15 (even at higher intensity), then I wouldn’t suggest your body is ready for 5h.

That said, you can use your Pw:Hr decoupling at low intensity as a good measure of base fitness. If you have greater than 5%, the inflection point should be relatively obvious from within your data, that will give a good indication of the time you should be spending at zone 2, then increasing gently from there.

So what were you doing prior to the 4 week TT plan?
Have you had an end of season break?
You’ve got 10 months to the L’Etape du Tour; so don’t think that you automatically go into building your base straight away unless that’s your primary weakness.

Eg over the last year with Pat’s help, I’ve built a pretty good base (completed Majorca 312 - 312km & 5000m in 12h & 9 days in the Dolomites 1300km & 21,000m) and am doing a pretty big endurance event next summer. Having done some fairly scientific testing, my primary focus is on building my VO2 max and also the lower part of Z2 as I start burning glycogen quite low. So until Xmas my training is either very hard or very easy plus lots of gym work. There’s then quite a lot of time do ensure I / you have got the endurance.

If the Etape took you 11h this year then what limited you? Were you slow up the climbs, did you completely run out of juice, how was your pacing, how was your nutrition etc etc

I have found the key to sustainable progress is consistency. Start with something that you know you can do and have time for. Build from there in time increments of 10-20 minutes each week. Remember an easy week and keep building.

In working with Pav, we have generally taken a slightly different approach. We have tried to boost my power over the winter so that when I start to extend the saddle time, it is at a higher power already and closer to the numbers that I will be pushing in an event. Doing this also means you are praticing nutritional strategy etc. much closer to the rate required when you get to your event.