Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) has returned from a three-week altitude training camp on Mount Teide in Tenerife, which he says has allowed him to "take a big step up" ahead of the Tour de France.
The four-time Tour winner has struggled for form ever since returning to racing following the mid-2019 crash that threatened to end his career, but suggested he will be more competitive when he lines up at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday.
As well as continuing to work on muscle strength in his right leg - where he suffered a femur fracture almost two years ago - Froome focused on another aspect of his preparation while at Teide: his weight.
"I arrived at this camp on 71 kilograms, after a couple of easy days and a couple of long flights. A lot of that will have been full glycogen stores and fluid retention as well, but I definitely had some weight to lose," Froome said in his latest YouTube video.
Froome went on to explain how a particularly gruelling day on the bike was tailored to both increase fitness and shed excess weight.
"There were two main objectives today, one to get some good quality high intensity work in, then the second objective was to target a bit of fat burning," he said.
"We did in total just over two hours of intensity in the six-and-a-half-hour ride, with efforts ranging from five minutes to 30 minutes. Then at the end of the ride, once we were empty from all the intervals, we did another two hours basically just on water. When you're already flat, tired, and empty, just push on for another two hours. It's at very low intensity but up here at 2000 metres, you definitely feel it.
"We started the day with a full carb option breakfast - probably 300 grams of rice and an egg-white omelette as well for some protein. During ride, topping up every 20-30 minutes with more carbs - bananas, rice cakes, gels, energy bars, as well as carbohydrate drinks. It was the full carb option while doing the quality work then backing off and finishing the ride with a couple of hours low carb, just on water, just to really engage that fat-burning capacity."
Froome explained that he typically finishes a training day like that between 2kg and 2.5kg lighter than he started out in the morning, but that it was not all burnt fat, and glycogen stores would have to be replenished that evening.
Even so, he lost more than two kilograms in total by the end of the camp, getting him down to race weight, even if there's more to lose by the time the Tour de France starts in a month's time.
"The goal was to get down under 69kg and I'm there," he said. "I'm really happy with how that's gone. If i can shed another kilo now before the Tour de France, that would be exactly where I want to be."
"Getting the weight down has been a battle, it certainly doesn't get easier, the older you get. I've made progress but not as much as I'd hoped but I'm definitely feeling better for it. I've still got a few weeks before the Tour de France, so hopefully it's something I can keep chipping away at and get to the Tour a bit leaner than I am now."
Froome will line up at the Dauphiné, which begins on Sunday and runs for eight days in south east France. After that, he will return to altitude for another two-week training camp ahead of the start of the Tour de France in Brittany on June 26.
"I definitely feel like that block at altitude had a big impact on me. I feel as if I was able to take a big step up there," Froome said.
"I'm certainly hoping to be closer to where I need to be once I get into racing now, than I was previously this season."
Froome concluded his video with another tongue-in-cheek dig at disc brakes.
He caused a stir when he launched his YouTube channel earlier this year with a review of his new Factor bike at Israel Start-Up Nation, only to talk scathingly about the disc brakes. The technology has become widespread in the pro peloton in the last couple of years but he pointed out that no one has yet ridden a disc brake bike to Grand Tour victory.
"It's interesting to see yet another Grand Tour that's going to go to rim brakes," he said, referring to his former teammate Egan Bernal, who leads the Giro d'Italia with two stages remaining.
"I don't think disc brakes have won a Grand Tour yet. I think the closest anyone has come is Richie Porte, with third at last year's Tour de France. I certainly hope we'll see someone up there pretty soon on disc brakes."
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