Curious about what fuels the elite cyclists at this year’s Tour de France Femmes? It’s quite simple and something you might recognize. Yes, oatmeal and a cup of joe are staples.
Imagine gearing up for a leg of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. What’s on your plate that morning? We chatted with pro cyclists and a nutrition expert for the inside scoop on their breakfast routine. And yes, oatmeal is a common thread.
Nutritionist Mathias Fluit from Human Powered Health, with experience across several ProTour teams, notes most riders opt for familiar breakfast items with personal twists.
Carbs are the main event at breakfast, aiming to refill energy reserves for the day’s race.
“It’s often a buffet at the hotel,” he explains. “You’ll find oatmeal or white rice, ready for custom toppings. And sweet carbs are always on the menu, like toast with jelly.”
Pro cyclist Marjolein van’t Geloof of Human Powered Health loves her morning oats mixed with almond milk, an apple, and a spoon of Speckuloos for that extra yum factor. “It’s delicious and something I always look forward to. Sometimes, there are pancakes too, perfect for a mid-morning snack en route to the race.”
For those with pre-race jitters making eating a challenge, Fluit recommends a low-fiber option like white rice to ease stomach woes. “Stress can really mess with your appetite, especially during the big tours,” he shares. “But skipping a meal is not an option. Performance hinges on it. So, they’ll push through and eat regardless of nerves.”
The takeaway? Even champions stick to simple, comforting breakfasts, but they always make sure to fuel up before the race.
Towers raves about the rice pudding. It’s a hit with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a splash of coconut milk mixed into the white rice. It goes down easy, perfect for a pre-race breakfast since it’s not too heavy on fiber and sits well in the stomach. She’ll top it off with a banana or a dollop of jam.
Kasia Niewiadoma takes it up a notch by drizzling maple syrup on hers and throwing in a banana for extra energy. She balances it with some protein and fat, maybe an omelette and avocado on toast.
“During a stage race, it’s all about the right mix of carbs without overcomplicating your meal,” Kasia explains. “Yet, it should still taste good.”
Fluit, on hydration, emphasizes it’s more key than the usual cyclist’s coffee in the morning. “I make sure riders have at least three glasses of fluids like water, electrolyte drinks, or even orange juice for that carb boost.”
Coffee, though, hasn’t been kicked to the curb.
Niewiadoma enjoys her quiet coffee time in the morning before the rest. Elise Chabbey of Canyon//SRAM also starts with coffee, followed by a straightforward meal of eggs, bread, and fruit, then takes time to unwind before the race begins.
Van’t Geloof usually skips coffee, but stage races are the exception. “I start with no coffee,” she says. “But as I get more worn out, a cup in the morning and maybe another on the bus really gives me a lift since I’m not a regular drinker.”
Henrietta Christie from Human Powered Health is an early bird, getting in a bonus meal. “I have an early porridge packed with goodies, then a second round a bit later. My Tupperware means I can eat it anywhere.”
En route to the race, riders munch on snacks. Fluit points out, “We keep them fueling up on carbs and fluids, like bananas, sandwiches, or oats on the go, but we save the gels and chews for during the race.”
If the race is at noon, breakfast falls around eight or nine. A pre-race snack, perhaps a sandwich or a second breakfast, comes about 90 minutes before the start. Some, like van’t Geloof, stick with solids right up until race time.
“I nibble a bit longer because if I stop after breakfast, I’d have to wait three hours before eating a lot on the bike, which doesn’t agree with my stomach.”
Then, it’s time to pedal into action!