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La Vuelta: Fuelling Stage 20 with the INEOS Grenadiers

Stage 20 of the Vuelta a España 2022 is the final day in the mountains before the race reaches Madrid. This means that it is the last opportunity for any General Classification riders to try and grasp victory from the leader or secure their current position on GC. The 181 km stage includes 3,843 m of climbing elevation and involves three category one climbs and two category two climbs, meaning that it is going to be one of the most physically demanding stages of the entire La Vuelta. Not forgetting that riders will be tackling these climbs after almost three consecutive weeks of racing, combined with the hot temperatures currently in Spain.  

Taking all of these factors into account, a rider’s nutrition and hydration on a day like this can make or break their success in the stage. The key here is to ensure they have not only consumed enough energy, carbohydrates and fluids before the stage, but also consumed enough carbohydrates and fluids during the stage to ensure that they don’t run out of fuel before the key moments, which could be catastrophic for any rider. A stage with this amount of climbing and distance could mean that riders are expending between 4500 kJ to 5000 kJ. The carbohydrates consumed therefore provide a key source of energy when it comes to the climbs, given the high intensity required during mountainous attacks.  


One of the greatest challenges for riders will be having a well devised in-race fuelling strategy in place to ensure that they are consuming enough carbohydrates and fluids to cover the super high energy demands. This can be critical for success. The aim of the Stage 20 fuelling strategy will be to maintain high rates of carbohydrate availability by constantly supplying their muscles and liver with carbohydrates throughout, this will therefore reduce the reliance on their body’s stored carbohydrate, ultimately meaning there will be more fuel available in the tank for later in the race when the mountain attacks kick off. This allows riders to finish strongly by responding to any attack, or even going themselves. To ensure that carbohydrate levels are maintained through the race day, the fuelling strategy will begin from the very start of the stage by providing fast acting and easy to digest carbohydrates every 20 minutes to achieve a rate of at least 120 grams per hour of carbohydrates, alongside consuming high volumes of fluids and electrolytes to promote hydration levels. 


However, to consume such high amounts of carbohydrates and fluids is not always easy to execute, given the difficulties in consuming large volumes during these types of stages. However, the Stage 20 fuelling strategy will incorporate the use of Science in Sport Beta Fuel range as it provides a unique fuelling solution that is simple and convenient, as well as being scientifically formulated to provide the optimal ratio of carbohydrates to meet the intended fuelling targets.  


Not only will the fuelling strategy outline the recommended carbohydrate intake, but it will strategically devise the use of specific Science in Sport products at different parts of Stage 20 depending on the parkour, as opposed to a general approach of singularly using only gels, bars or energy drinks.  


For example, during the first hour of the race there is an ascent of a category one climb and during this first climb it can be difficult to consume solid based foods like energy bars, however Science in Sport Beta Fuel Chews provide a great option during the initial uphill part of the stage because they provide 46 g of fast carbohydrates in a solid but easy-to-digest form. Using these in conjunction with Science in Sport Beta Fuel drink and Science in Sport GO hydro tablets ensures optimal fluid intake as well.  


During the second hour of the stage, it is slightly flatter so riders may opt to consume Science in Sport Energy Bakes as an alternative fuelling option, as well as continuing to consume the correct volumes of fluids and electrolytes.  


Once the stage progresses to the third and fourth hour, when the intensity will be increased and riders are required to ascent two category two climbs, they will be recommended to switch towards Science in Sport Beta Fuel Chews and Science in Sport Beta Fuel Gels, which provide 40g of carbohydrate per gel, and are more easily consumable when the intensity is higher.  


During the fourth hour they would also be recommended to use a Science in Sport Beta Fuel + Nootropics Gel. The Nootropics Gel is utilised at this point during the race as the specific formula of carbohydrates, caffeine and nootropics collectively improves the riders’ physical and mental performance to help them prepare for the final hour of racing. As riders approach their final hour of racing, when there is likely to be a number of attacks, they would be advised to rely solely on Science in Sport Beta Fuel Gels and Science in Sport Beta Fuel drink 

stage 20 infographic

Written By

The Performance Solutions Team