Bradley Wiggins’ performance at the Tour de France has us all in awe.

This article, by Cycling Weekly entitled ‘Bradley Wiggins’s Tour de France training’ gives us an insight into how he is achiving such great results.

‘Wiggins went to Tenerife in 2011 after a test following the 2010 Tour, showed he tended to de-saturate quickly on climbs above 2,000 metres, which meant the oxygen saturation of his blood dropped suddenly at altitude, basically past the 1,800-2,000 metre mark.

The 2011 camp, just before the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, was meant to remedy that problem ready for the high-altitude stages at the 2011 Tour. Wiggins won that Dauphiné with the form of his life, so the same high-altitude camp was chosen to prepare for the Tour 2012.

Why high?
Endurance athletes don’t use altitude just for the increased red blood cells, and therefore increased oxygen carrying capacity, that it brings. That was the adaptation they were after many years ago, but now most top coaches regard it almost as a side-effect of altitude, and a fleeting one at that.

The concentration of the hormone responsible for creating red blood cells increases steadily for the first two weeks at altitude then falls to base levels after a month. Also, the post-altitude red blood cells boost only lasts for the life of the cells, about 28 days.

Wiggins and his back-up team are mindful of this. He returned to sea-level on May 26, one week before the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 3-10) to allow for a week for the ‘post-altitude slump’, a period when the body readjusts, and for Wiggins to recover from the heavy workload. Team Sky will hold an altitude camp from just after the Dauphiné until June 24, which riders can drop in and out of, and I was told that Wiggins would be there for the duration but I understand he has done some route reconnoitring in France as well…’

Read the full Cycling Weekly article here.

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