Help! Choosing A Speciality Plan ?! (for my Alpine Stage Race)


so cool to have this forum up and running!

I have listened to as many podcast as i can find to try and help my question but am still a little torn:

I am planning on signing up to Haute Route Alps 2019:

I CAN NOT DECIDE whether i should be doing Century or Climbing Road race specialty

some info

• 7-day stage race in alps
• about 100mile / 2-3k meters climb per day
• link to 2018 profile (

I could do BOTH as i have a lot of time to play with:

(that would look like SSbase/SPbuild/Century + Trad Base 3wks/ClimbingRoad Race.

Has anyone done anything similar?

I understand why there is no stage race plan, as stage races can be so varied… but for what i am describing what do you guys think would be best?

if you can help i’d be so grateful - am so confused which speciality is going to help me the most.

thanks everyone!


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That’s crazy, I literally just submitted almost the identical question to the podcast “ask a cycling coach” less than an hour ago. I am targeting The Tour of the Gila which is a mountainous 5 day climbing stage race with an exceptionally hilly TT. Interested to see the responses.

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haha nice!

yeah i’ve submitted it this Q a few times and keep my fingers for a response …

anything i find out i will let you know and if you could do the same that would be awesome :grinning:

How long and how far is your race?


Will let you know what I find out.

The stage race is 5 days. I am racing the Cat 3 race so the stages are as follows:
Day 1 - 73 miles with 2400 ft of climbing finishing on a 6.7 mile Cat 1 climb mountain top finish with grades up to 19%.

Day 2 - 62 miles with 3 categorized climbs over the continental divide and around 6000 ft of climbing. This is the easy day lol.

Day 3 - TT 16.5 mi with 2 categorized climbs of roughly 6-7% grades. Out and back course with final 4 miles on a serious downhill with severe crosswinds. Bring your 58-60T chainring or get spun out.

Day 4 - Crit 20 Lap Criterium with 2 steep hills. Mostly a VO2 Max parade as a rest day. No real GC effect.

Day 5 - The Gila Monster Stage 69 mi. with 6000’ of climbing. Finish on mountaintop following 3 categorized climbs.

There are tougher climbs, but racing up and over these slopes at altitude is a serious challenge. The fields tend to be hyper competitive as everyone brings their A game, and there have been cat 4/5’s that have received pro team contracts.

What made you sign up for Haute Route?

Wow that sounds legit!!

I am going to look your race up now. Sounds more competitive than HR.

Long (ish) Story but …

I am pretty new to cycling TBH … but have fallen in love with it. I have raced track (running) for a long time and so i am pretty used to hard structured training etc and carry some decent fitness into cycling.
However, as i am an ex-runner i am on the lighter side and sadly, although my w/kg is fairly OK from what i can tell, my actual FTP is not high really so i think i would find it very tough ever doing any other types of races … so i thought a climbing event would be best!

I felt HR would be great lifetime challenge - i had to stop running early (freak rare arthritis!) so wanted to set myself a crazy goal.

If it goes well i’d love to do something like you are doing … however as i said my raw power is not great despite my w/kg being ok so not sure i’d be any good!

What about yourself - have you done many stage races before ?

cheers !


I have a pretty standard question for this question, @sandilandscycles and @ravivw: are you looking to race it or survive it? Often enough, these epic events are bucket-list achievements where riders are simply looking to get through it, and a firm aerobic base with lots of muscular endurance are what’s required. This is where I recommend the Century plans. But if you plan to race it or simply ride it more dynamically, then you need a bigger ‘bag of tools’ to respond to or initiate a wide range of efforts for an ever wider range of durations. In this case, the Road Race plans are the better bet.


Hi fwiw, I’ve ridden most of the Haute Route climbs & have two friends who did the HR Alps itself this year. Coming from the UK, major difference is that the alpine climbs are (depending on the speed you ride them, of course) anything up to 90 minutes in duration. Long, sustained, repeatable Sweet Spot power therefore key. Not sure if Coach Chad would agree but I found Sweet Spot Base > Sustained Power Build > Climbing Road Race worked well. FYI, I’m at an FTP of 4 w/kg & that’ll get you up Alpe d’ Huez comfortably under the hour! Hope that’s useful.



@chad logical question and surviving Gila is no small feat itself. I’ve completed the race previously and have used it as a training camp for Midwest racing. Finished mid pack in the TT and caught my 4 min man on box rims and clip on bars since traveling with two bikes would have been hard.

My goal is to compete for the podium as my A race. I will bring my TT Bike this time and hopefully complete an altitude camp prior. Need the larger tool bag variety. Lots of TT preparation, with some VO2max efforts followed by threshold interval. Simulating the beginning of a competitive climb and then settling into threshold. I appreciate the quick reply and I’m excited to hear your response. In the passed I’ve done Tucson Bicycle Classic in March as a training block and stay an extra couple days doing mt. Lemmon climb.

Absolutely, @deq451. That’s one of several plan progressions I’ve actually recommended for Haute Route. Well done.


@ravivw, it sounds like you have a really good grasp on the demands of the Gila having done it once already, so you’re in an even better position than I am when it comes to your knowledge of what you struggled with and what might have been the difference between your training-camp finish and the podium. But knowing that you’re there to contend for a top finish, the Climbing RR plan is definitely the way to go. And yeah, definitely bring your TT bike this time - can’t afford to give that time to your competitors if you’re aiming at the pointy end of the race. That altitude camp is a great get too. I’m excited to hear how things go!

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While I know the race somewhat, you certainly are the plan guru. Do you think the climbing race plan will have enough steady tt or threshold efforts to be at peak tt form? I did not see many 2 x 20 threshold efforts, maybe missed it. What would you augment?

In building up to the specific phase, what are your thoughts on pushing ftp as high as possible? My strength is vo2max intervals, and anaerobic capacity. Any guidance you can offer on building towards the specialty phase with increasing ftp as focus.


so grateful to get your feedback in person … i was toying with doing century so i appreciate this clarification hugely

might i ask you ONE thing that would be amazing to get a simple answer on:

i have a very long time until the event - would you recommend doing 28weeks or 40weeks?

the 40wk would be what i think you previsouly wrote about:

  • 40-Weeks Out : 12 Weeks of Sweet Spot Base conditioning + 8 weeks of Sustained Power Build + 8 weeks of CRR specialization + 4 weeks of Trad Base I+ 8 weeks of CRR Specialization

many thanks in advance Coach!



thank you so much for your reply - really appreciated.

I think the best bet is to stick to what you and Coach Chad said.

I guess i fall somewhere in between racing it and surviving it.

My w/kg is around 4.2/3 so its good to know that that should be enough to help me get through it.

When you or your friends did it…did you ever pratice back2back training days in preparation?

thanks again dude!

@ravivw, that’s a really good question because this is a road race plan but not necessarily a stage race plan. So that can mean a bit of modification if you’re really focusing on a strong TT. Normally, I’d say the weekend workout(s), being squarely aimed at increasing muscular endurance, are sufficient for raising FTP and therefore should translate well to a stage race TT (as opposed to a standalone TT). But if you’re specifically aiming for a strong TT and improved steady-state power, I’d recommend folding in some of the 40k TT specialty workouts in that final phase of training. Specifically, the progression workouts like White, Leavitt, and Echo and the practice TT’s like Dardanelles, Dunderberg, and Unicorn are probably the best-suited workouts for race-specific prep.

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Yep, @sandilandscycles, that’s a recommendation I’ll stand behind with one caveat: can you train for 40 weeks? That’s an important consideration because staying focused and consistent for 40 weeks is a tall order for any cyclist, regardless of experience, and I’ve personally struggled with it in the past, recent past too. These days, I find I’m far better at shorter spans of time strung together over an entire season. But in the past, I had little problem staying on track for 50 weeks out of the year, so it hasn’t always been this way.

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thanks for clarifying Coach!

I have never had a problem staying focused for a long time in training time in running (where i come from) and if anything my enthusiasm for cycling, as i am still pretty new, is even higher. So i think i may shoot for 40weeks.
I guess it also gives me a little wiggle room should anything come up.

ONE LAST QUESTION (i promise!)

As i fall in between competitive and ‘surviving’ - would it be viable to do both specializations?

ie 1st special block Century and 2nd special block Climbing Road Race

best of both worlds?

I really sincerely appreciate your input here has really put my mind at ease!

a thousand thank you’s


That’s a good way to go too, @sandilandscycles. Sounds kinda fun too, nicely varied. So you’d do 12 weeks of SSB, 8 weeks Sus Build, 8 weeks Century, 4 weeks Trad Base, 8 weeks CRR. Dig it.



Been pondering this for weeks. My mind is finally at ease.


Chad - you’re a legend. Salute! :sunglasses::metal::fist::+1:

I tend to get a couple of multi - day trips in per year so that functions as back to back training in effect. It’s definitely an issue; recovery is key. That said, I think the main thing is trying to get used to riding uphill for an hour at a time, two or three times a day. Not sure what terrain you have locally but hill repeats might be a good idea. Otherwise, maybe try long, steady intervals at your target power & cadence? Enjoy!

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@chad, Thanks for the suggestion on workouts. How would you fit them in, which workouts would you substitute them in place of ? As for progression, what are your thoughts on the season build up prior to specialty phase? I started with LV Sweet Spot Base I, just to ease back into my training per your podcast about season planning. I am in week 5 and have adjusted nicely, actually added muir the last 2 weeks as the body was recovered and I was easily completing all workouts. For the next phases my plan is to ramp up the volume as follows. Mid-Volume Sweet Spot Base II, High Volume Sweet Spot Base II, High Volume Sustained Power Build, then Race specific morph of Climbing plan with TT emphasis. I had extra time, so I added an extra block of Sweet Spot. I actually still have a 2 week buffer for snafu’s or sick time. I will probably do a short 14 day VO2Max boost in between MV SSB II and HV SSB II. It is short intense intervals that I have found boost my upper end and allow me to push FTP up underneath it as SST training and build continue. They are super short workouts but high intensity, they will serve as a mini boost prior to final Sweet Spot Block and also while intense they are much easier to recover from than a huge block of SST. Would you plan the season differently given my goal of sustained power and FTP knowing that I adapt very quickly to VO2 efforts? I guess I’m saying that I am trying to put together a plan that adequately addresses my relative weaknesses, although at the moment they are actual weakness :wink: