For years bike racers have lived on pasta as their primary source of carbohydrates. Jonathan Vaughters has often said that he’ll never eat pasta again as long as he lives! At least the over-cooked pasta that is served in most of the race hotels around the world, the exception being the hotels at the Giro.
At this year’s Tour de France, we decided to make a change for our riders. Instead of having pasta and bread every night for dinner we asked our chef, Willy, to prepare rice. And we are giving the riders rice cakes and corn cakes instead of bread. Why? I believe that the high amounts of wheat products that are normally consumed by bike racers at the Tour have an inflammatory effect in the body. I believe that most people have either an overt allergy to wheat products (as Julian Dean demonstrates) or at least a sub-symptomatic inflammatory response to wheat products.
At the Tour de France, one of the biggest goals is to maintain as low a state of inflammation as possible. The amount of inflammation that the riders bodies accumulate during the day is so high that any little bit of help we can give them, and this includes dietary modifications, is essential.
So, our guys are eating very little wheat products (bread, pasta) and also very little red meat (which also has a pro-inflammatory effect on the body). Most of the meals consist of oats (Willy’s porridge in the mornings!), and in the evenings the guys are eating a lot of chicken, turkey and fish.
Yes, they’ve had a couple meals of pasta and red meat. We do need to give them a bit of variety, but the rule has been rice, oats, chicken, fish and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables! Even the foods that we give them on the bike are rice based.
There’s a bit of insight into what the guys are eating here at the Tour.