The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide is, in some ways, a reasonable source of training information for riders looking to advance from beginner events. But the muddled structure, proofing errors, gender bias and unhelpful chapters make it hard to use, and the whole thing feels rather thrown together.
The thought of training – serious training over months – can be overwhelming. A properly structured plan can really help, as it breaks up both the physical aspect of training and the mental aspect too.
Unfortunately, I didn't find the Tour de France Training Guide that helpful. For more experienced cyclists there's nothing new in here in terms of theory, while for newer riders, the information is confusingly relayed. Advanced terms are not explained until they've been used several times, for instance, while the confused chapter layout makes for an often frustrating read.
The book starts with the key factor of goal setting, and while it's fairly generic advice, the book's considered approach to how training must fit around normal life is a good reminder for us all, right in the first few pages.
Next it jumps straight into types of training, though not all of types are covered. Endurance rides, turbos, intervals and cadence are all jammed into this second chapter, alongside basic examples of sessions.
It's odd that the common training metrics of power and heart rate are not covered, yet cadence is. Arguably, cadence should feature the Training Tools chapter,as it really doesn't fit here.
Worse still, terminology specific to power and heart rate training does appear... and without explanation. How will anyone new to power training know what FTP stands for, or even what Functional Threshold Power means? Training zones are used in the examples too, yet aren't explained until page 124.
It would make sense, having looked at (some) types of training, to move on to training tools, but that chapter doesn't come until you're a full 120 pages in. It's chapter 12. And while the whole point of the book is as a guide to training, the crucial chapter doesn't come until page 128, which I feel is far too deep into the book.
There's a good chapter on nutrition and solid points on preventing injury through proper bike fit and correct rest, but several other chapters in the first half just seem to be filling space.
All this just leaves you searching for information, instead of absorbing it naturally.
The book, both in its wording and photography, could and should be more inclusive. While women do feature at times, the heavy skew towards white, middle-aged men suggests that the book, like the current Tour de France, is only for a certain demographic.
You might think that this is terribly 'woke' of me, but cycling is growing in diversity – despite the efforts of reactionaries – and any official product of the world's biggest bike race should really be reflecting and promoting this.
Towards the end of the book, author Paul Knott gives up 28 pages dedicated to the climbs of the Tour de France. As interesting as the profiles and stories are, I feel that for a training guide, this is wasted space. A deeper delve into nutrition would have been a better use, in my view.
Ending on a positive note, I'm happy to see the book avoids spending too much time talking about what the pros do. As interesting as their 30-hour training weeks are, it isn't that useful to the average cyclist, so more general advice – about the likes of cross-training or proper rest and recovery – is good to see.
At £20 this isn't cheap, but then it's a hardcover and a fairly niche one at that. The Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel is £22.99, for comparison, though that one I would recommend – we haven't reviewed it, but I own a copy. It's far more helpful for actually forming a training plan, and if it's a little more geared towards regular cyclists, it's also far easier to use.
There is sound, well-proven advice lurking inside the Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide, but it feels like Paul Knott's efforts have not been matched by the book's designers or sub editors. The confused chapter layout, rushed-feeling quality control and lack of appropriate explanations make extracting the good stuff a challenge.
Sound advice, but it's difficult to pick out of a confusing layout
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road.cc test report
Make and model: The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide Paul Knott
Size tested: Hardback
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The blurb says: "The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide taps into the minds of the riders, coaches and experts who have experienced or raced the Tour de France first hand. Giving amateur cyclists the insider knowledge on how to adapt their training, nutrition and mental preparation for potentially their toughest day out on a bike.
"Alongside lifelong advice to improve your cycling performance, the book gives structured guidance on how to plan your season, incorporating some of the key training and nutrition strategies adopted by professional cyclists. This also includes unlocking and decoding training data, which has become a key aspect of cycling training, utilising training off the bike as well as on it and breaking down the psychological barriers that can hold some cyclists back."
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If you can pick out the good bits of training advice, it will be useful.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The basic advice, if nothing revolutionary, is sound.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The confusing structure simply hides the advice. There are numerous instances of subsections placed in chapters in which they don't fit.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
We haven't reviewed it, but the Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel is £22.99 (and recommended).
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Could be more hindrance than help, so no.
Use this box to explain your overall score
There's some solid advice in here for anyone making their first training plan, but the chapter layout makes it hard to make sense of that advice. It needs some proper proof reading and layout changes to score any higher.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.