The right post-stage nutrition strategy

Nutrition expert Judith Haudum reports on working with the BMC Racing Team

A rider will easily burn up 6,000 kcal during a demanding race stage. After this kind of exertion, the body must fully replenish its energy stores. So what's the best way to go about this? Judith Haudum, official nutritionist of the BMC Racing Team, describes the right tactics, the surprise food on every menu in every team bus and why this food also sometimes actually runs out.

Replenishing energy stores after the race

When racing is over, the action doesn't stop for us, especially today because after the finish we have a long transfer ahead of us. Somebody has to see to the cyclists' eating and recovery routine during the period between crossing the finish line and reaching their hotel room. It's not always an easy job to ensure everything gets done properly. So the team tries to ensure these transfers run as smoothly as possible. There are always plenty of snacks in the coaches and cars for the riders. The coach driver and the cook discuss arrangements every day and work in unison to guarantee the optimum recovery for the riders. And I personally make sure that the riders are consuming what I think are the right things. A lot can go wrong during this part of the day, or especially in the period after racing is over. After today's stage, like after every stage, it's vital that riders replenish their energy stores. This means we always ensure there is enough food with carbohydrates and protein on the coach so that the riders can eat as much of this as they need. We have a large selection, some riders prefer fruit and muesli, others go for big plates of rice. Two things you'll find on every team coach on the circuit are olive oil and Parmesan cheese.  I don't know where this trend came from, but the Italians have introduced many aspects of Italian cuisine to the world - and to the pro cycling circuit. I think that, for the riders, not having these two foods would be like a body trying to function without a heart. If either one is missing then there's real trouble, in every team! It's important that everyone gets what is right for them. And while everyone is enjoying their meal, there's time to discuss the stage with the DS, to analyze the outcome and voice any initial thoughts.

Rice for everyone after long stages

Because riders use up such a lot of energy, I am helped by the team doctor in ensuring that the riders start the regeneration process immediately after a stage finishes. This means that alongside showering, changing their clothes and doing interviews, the riders also get to eat and drink. Even on the coach to go back to the hotel, our riders have several different meals to choose from, thanks to the prep work of our team chef and the coach driver: rice is standard, together with chicken breast and tuna. Riders can also make themselves a bowl of muesli to get their recovery underway. But most of our riders prefer to eat rice. They can combine it with something sweet or just eat it with meat and fish, whatever they want. We sometimes worry on days like this that there won’t be any rice left.  We have a rice cooker on the coach which is used to prepare the rice fresh before we arrive at our locations. It has been known during a race for the last rider to miss out on the rice. But for the Tour de France that can't really be allowed to happen.

After a mountain stage, it's time for a dessert

On a day which featured several mountain peaks we made sure riders took in higher-than-usual carbohydrate levels. The evening meal contained more carbohydrates and dessert today consisted of more than just a fruit salad - some sweet extra ingredients were allowed. And riders also like tucking in to the odd chocolate mousse and fruit cake.

Judith Haudum is 33 and comes from Salzburg in Austria. The qualified sports scientist, lecturer and expert in sports nutrition works with the BMC team, which PowerBar supplies with high-quality sports nutrition as its sponsor.