YOUR GRAND TOUR

Men's Health (UK) - - The Body Issue - WORDS BY TOM WARD – IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY ADAM NICKEL

El­e­vate your holiday fit­ness am­bi­tions with scenic routes from the UK’S best cy­clists

This month, 198 rid­ers from 22 teams will de­scend on Düs­sel­dorf for the Grand Dé­part of the 104th edi­tion of The Tour de France – the most fa­mous event on two wheels. Tak­ing place over 23 days, and en­com­pass­ing 2200 miles and 21 stages over four na­tions, it is a unique sport­ing spec­ta­cle watched by an es­ti­mated four bil­lion peo­ple world­wide.

All of which some­what puts your Sun­day af­ter­noon push up the lo­cal hill into per­spec­tive. There’s noth­ing quite like the pres­tige – not to men­tion phys­i­cal prow­ess – that com­pe­ti­tion be­stows, but aiming to out­pace the pros is a daunt­ing prospect. While you work to fit in a quick slog be­fore din­ner, the av­er­age Tour rider toils for five hours per day, torch­ing up to 8000 calo­ries at speeds of 25.7mph.

But if you want to set your sights on break­ing away to vic­tory on the Champ­sÉlysées – boost­ing your fit­ness, pedal power and en­durance in the process – you needn’t con­fine your­self to a life of pun­ish­ing en­durance. Nor do you need a £10,000 bi­cy­cle. With just a lit­tle bit of ex­pert ad­vice, you can rev­o­lu­tionise your per­for­mance and put your­self in with a sportive chance. To help you climb ev­ery moun­tain, we asked the best UK rid­ers – in­clud­ing Olympians, Team Sky stal­warts and aus­pi­cious ap­pren­tices – to share their favourite train­ing routes, cross­ing the UK from Hack­ney to Cardiff, as well as a sum­mer de­camp­ment to the panoramic but ex­act­ing Mal­lor­can hills.

Here, then, is your guide to the best un­der-the-radar train­ing routes around – com­plete with all the in­side in­for­ma­tion you need to eke out a com­pet­i­tive edge. Each is test­ing, yes – and you’ll be rid­ing with­out the Tour’s en­cour­ag­ing spec­ta­tors lin­ing your course. But with a strong will, de­vel­op­ing quadri­ceps and a lit­tle bit of in­tel­li­gent prepa­ra­tion, each route is achiev­able. So shake off that lac­tic acid, put the brakes on your gym’s static bike and sad­dle up.

Whether you’re gear­ing up to lead the pelo­ton, or just want to start the wheels turn­ing, these routes from the UK’S top cy­clists will lift your fit­ness while swerv­ing the Tour de France crowds. If you want to con­tend for the yel­low jer­sey in 2018, this is how to train…

STEER YOUR FIT­NESS PLAN ON A SCENIC DI­VER­SION

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