Jumbo-Visma uses CORE in 2020 Tour de France
Team Jumbo-Visma showed extremely strong performance in the Tour de France. Performing at that level requires getting everything right, including nutrition. In this interview with Martijn Redegeld, Performance Nutritionist, Team Jumbo-Visma, Bill Braun, co-founder of CORE Nutrition Planning explores more about the Jumbo-Visma approach to nutrition and the use of CORE.
CORE: It was a very exciting and impressive Tour de France this year. Of course, heartbreaking on the time trial, but still very impressive how Jumbo-Visma appeared to do everything right, every stage.
Martijn: We are very proud of what the team accomplished over three weeks of the tour and a little sad about the time trial. But, lots of great lessons and experience will only make us stronger next time. As a team, we have spent years refining our approach to all aspects of competition, including in my area: nutrition.
CORE: There has been a lot of attention to the comprehensive approach that Team Jumbo-Visma has taken to nutrition with Foodcoach app for daily nutrition. Can you tell us about your overall approach to nutrition.
Martijn: With nutrition, there are four important areas to consider: daily nutrition (or training nutrition), pre-race nutrition, race nutrition and recovery nutrition. The Foodcoach app helps us especially with daily, pre-race and recovery nutrition. For race nutrition, we work with CORE Nutrition Planning. It’s not hard to get nutrition right, but it’s easy to get it wrong. These tools help us get it really right and make it easy for our riders to put the nutritional strategies into practice.
CORE: Tell us more about the key things you focus on for race nutrition with CORE.
Martijn: The two very most important aspects of race nutrition are carbohydrate and fluid intake. Carbohydrates are the go-to fuel for endurance sports. And hydration is critical for body temperature regulation (through sweating). Of course there are other aspects to consider such as caffeine and electrolytes. Fat and protein are also important to watch, mostly to ensure not too much during the race.
CORE: Let’s talk about carbohydrates first. The research shows that for efforts over 3 hours, the best performance comes with carbohydrate intake on the order of 90g per hour (360kcal/hr of carbs).
Martijn: Yes. And sometimes even a bit more if the gut can handle it. But fueling at these levels requires nutritional training and the right mix of carbohydrates. On easier race days, riders will fuel closer to 90g/hr and on really hard stages their fueling is sometimes even a bit higher, depending on individual needs and tolerances.
CORE: What products does the team prefer for fueling at these levels?
Martijn: The team will primarily use a variety of sports drink, gels, and bars from partner Vifit and rice cakes and other baked treats from our soigneurs and Bisschopsmolen bakery. When the pace is slower or when sitting-in on the peleton, riders will enjoy bars and rice cakes more often. When the going gets tough and it’s more difficult to chew, intake will shift primarily to gels. The sports drink always remains important to not only provide carbohydrate but also enough fluid and electrolytes. In the very hardest moments of a race, it’s important that you fueled properly leading up to that time and you’ll be lucky if you can top-off with some sports drink or gel.
CORE: How do you use CORE to do this planning?
Martijn: It’s pretty easy. With information about the racer, the stage, the preferred products, CORE generates a plan. Because we have such extensive experience and different objectives for certain stages, we use an individual specified custom carbohydrate target. We then further customize the plan depending on the stage details and strategy; as we adjust things like timing for gels vs bars, CORE makes sure we’re staying on target showing carb gauges and numbers like total grams and grams/hr.
CORE: Let’s talk about hydration.
Martijn: Sure. Hydration is critical. When working hard, the body sweats in order to regulate temperature. If you become too dehydrated, performance will suffer. If you over-hydrate, the best case is that you have to pee too often. In preparation to the races, we do extensive measurements with our racers to understand sweat rates which in turn dictate hydration requirements. Research as well as racer experience informs us about the level of sweat loss at which performance begins to suffer. CORE takes care of all the calculations to set proper hydration taking into consideration sweat rate, temperature, intensity, duration, etc.
CORE: How do you make this all come together for the race?
Martijn: There are several parts to this. Once plans are set for a stage, we talk to the racers to confirm the plans. We also provide top-tube stickers from CORE with the plans laid out to see during the race. And we work with the staff to plan the specific feeding points along the road and prepare the racer-specific musettes so racers will have what then need on the course.
CORE: How is it working with the racers?
Martijn: We have a great team that truly understands the importance of nutrition… before, during and after racing. So, it’s really a partnership. For race nutrition, we’re at the point where it’s down to racers telling us which mix of products and flavors they like best and we can plan with that. We also share with them how they can adjust, swapping products real-time as taste might change but always keeping the intake at target levels.
CORE: What about things like caffeine.
Martijn: This is an important topic for our riders, in the first place because they all love a good coffee. During the Tour de France, we were bringing our own espresso machine all across the country. But besides that, research (and race results) show that caffeine is ergogenic, meaning it helps you do more work. We know the individual levels of caffeine intake that produce better results. That’s never the question. It’s really more a strategy question, picking the right caffeine amount and timing for a particular stage. Because CORE knows the caffeine content of all products, it’s easy to see intake by hour and properly plan timing based on the strategy for the day.
CORE: How about electrolytes, fat, protein, etc.
Martijn: These are things to keep an eye on. A little bit of fat and protein is ok, but too much will slow digestion; we don’t want that; we want carbs to be absorbed quickly without any GI issues. With electrolytes, we manage these differently; there isn’t a body of research that defines guidelines as there is with carbohydrates and fluids because there are too many influencing factors (genetics, diet, acclimatization, etc.); here experience with each athlete tells us what works best.
CORE: Can you tell us more about what’s involved in nutritional training.
Martijn: I can’t share too much here about the details, but it is important to know that nutritional training is critical, both “train high” to simulate race conditions and “train low” to stimulate fat-burning capacity. We incorporate all of this into our training regimen, starting already months before the key races. The nutrition plan you use on race day is something that should be very familiar from lots of practice.
CORE: Thank you for such an interesting view on the importance of nutrition for top performance. All the best wishes for the Giro!
Martijn: You’re welcome. We’re looking forward to a great race!