The route is divided into seven sectors. The first and last sectors will be ridden by your complete team, whilst the remaining five sectors can be ridden as a relay; the choice of formation is completely at your discretion, as long as at least two members of your team are on the road at any one time. Changeovers will take place at the 'contrôles' at the end of each sector. Over the coming months we’ll look at each sector in detail allowing you to start to devise your ideal strategy.
In 1965, the Bordeaux-Paris race witnessed an extraordinary feat of cycling endurance by enigmatic cycling legend Jacques Anquetil. Stung by what he perceived to be the greater popularity of his arch-rival, Raymond Poulidor, Anquetil responded to a challenge from Raphael Geminiani, Directeur Sportif of Anquetil’s St Raphael team, to prove beyond all doubt that he was the superior athlete. At 3pm, on 29th May, Anquetil won the Dauphiné Libéré, a week-long stage race ending in the southern French city of Nîmes. Less than four hours later, having completed several rounds of interviews and the post-race reception, the often controversial Frenchman boarded a plane for a 40-minute flight to Bordeaux. At 1am the following morning, Anquetil lined up for the start of the Bordeaux-Paris, which would end later that morning in the French capital.
To supplement the strength exercises you are doing in the gym or at home, you also need to do more specific on-bike strength sessions. This develops the amount of force you can apply to the pedals. Below is a great 12-week programme to do just that. It can be done on a flat road or turbo trainer, once a week.
I am just back from carrying out a recce of the entire Bordeaux–Paris route. Unlike the pros who stuck to the main roads and enjoyed rolling road closures, our route takes a more interesting course taking us away from traffic, on a journey through the heart of rural France. Our route couldn’t ignore the historic staging points of the original professional race, so we make visits to places such as Châtellerault, where riders would meet their derny driver and follow the same route along the Loire. It was here, between Amboise and Orleans, where riders would regularly exceed 60kph when tucked in behind their motorbike.
Strength is one of the key components of fitness for cycling, particularly important for an event like the Rapha Bordeaux–Paris. The stronger a muscle or group of muscles is, the more time it will take to fatigue, the less prone it is to injury and the more ‘force’ it applies with every push on the pedals. It might not seem like a direct requirement for spending hours on a bike, but your core strength is going to be a big factor in you completing the event.