One of the things that has made this first week different from recent Tours past has been having two significant Time Trial efforts in just the first 4 stages. Instead of the shorter prologue we have come expect, the 19 km TT really added to the hurt everyone knows is coming in the 67.5km team event. While the riders know that these specific events will hurt, it's the potential long-term damage that concerns team chiropractor Dr. Jeff Spencer.
Jeff's been with the Tour team for many years now and knows what the secret is to getting through tough weeks like this: recovery, recovery, recovery. "The riders are doing very well even after the big effort from the TTT yesterday, mainly because of the proactive things we've been doing, plus we have a very aggressive recovery process afterwards," he said outside the team bus before Stage 5.
"Recovery starts on the bus immediately after a stage. We immediately address any physical concerns using a variety of methods, including micro current, manual therapy, even a hand-held programmable laser therapy tool. Nutrition of course is very important and we make sure that they are getting a good balance of carbohydrates and protein as quickly as possible because of the depletion in those areas from a big effort like that. And you're not only working to fuel recovery but you're also preparing for the following stage tomorrow. If you don't stay really on top of nutrition, and you miss a meal or the opportunity to fuel up, you can put yourself into a hole that you just can't get out of."
When you think of post-race ritual massage is pretty much what usually comes to mind. "When we get back to the hotel half the riders go to massage and half to me. Massage is very important because it helps drive the metabolic products out of the legs, then I deal with the mechanical issues plus the stretches and strains common to cycling," Jeff said. "Then after dinner we'll come back around and check on each of the riders and make sure all is well and that anything we've done is right on track. You want to make sure that the riders get to sleep with the minimal amount of stress and strain so that they'll be as ready to go as possible the following day."
And now you know what the Discovery Channel guys are doing right now to get ready for the days ahead. Thanks for checking in.