Friday, July 2, 2010
Tyler Hamilton - Race Day Calories
By: Tyler Hamilton
Last month, I watched the Giro d’Italia with THT’s program director, KK. She was asking me a MILLION questions about the race. While answering her questions, I mentioned to her that I had ridden the race in 2002 and had placed 2nd overall behind Italian Paolo Savodelli. “Why didn’t you win?” she asked. So I explained…
I started stage #17, the last mountain stage of the 2002 Giro d’Italia in 3rd place overall. I was 18 seconds behind race leader, Cadel Evans, and 30 seconds ahead of Paolo Savodelli. This was a tough 222km stage that ended with a 20km finishing climb up the Passo Folgaria. We had been in the saddle for over 7 hours and with 6km to go, I realized that Evans was suffering real bad. At that point, I was feeling great and since many of the favorites, including Dario Frigo (who was in 2nd place overall) had been dropped, I knew that this was my opportunity to win the Giro. I accelerated and immediately dropped the race leader. From there, all I had to do was maintain my rhythm and I would ride myself into the lead by the finish line. However, within one or two kilometers, I went from feeling super to feeling like I had no ‘gas left in the tank’. Basically, I had run out of sugar and ‘hit the wall’ from not eating enough throughout the day. Unfortunately, Paolo Savodelli came flying by me like a freight train and there was nothing I could do except watch him ride away and into the Giro’s pink leader’s jersey. I lost 2 minutes to Savoldelli in those final 5 kilometers and lost the Giro d’Italia. I was devastated.
Here’s what I learned…
Remember that fueling your body is a pivotal part of your race strategy. I was so focused and excited on that final climb that I forgot to continue with fueling my body. No matter how good you feel or whatever the situation, you need to be disciplined enough to continuously give your body the calories it needs. From that day on, I have always made it a priority to be aware of the amount of calories that I need to consume. Make sure you stay acutely aware of your calorie intake and to stay ABOVE that threshold.
Maintaining your blood sugar by an adequate caloric intake is an important tool in your race day arsenal. Make sure that you don’t forget!
Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone enjoys the holiday weekend.