How to train specifically for Mont Ventoux, 2h climb

I found out today that this July I will most probably spent a whole week 10km from the start of Mount Ventoux Climb. I love climbing so I’m not really afraid of the climb, and I think I know how to train for best rising my FTP and TTE. I’m currently about 3w/kg, so this climb will be about 2 hours. The problem is that I would still like to crush (or not be crushed too much) by my nephew-in-law (is that a term?) who has a house there, but who is not a cyclist but still quite sporty.
My question is how specific should I be to that climb to get the best time (and independently of my nephew, my time could stay a long time on my strava before I get another try). I train 5 times a week, about 1h30 with warm-up and cool down, but was already planning to raise that a bit because of better life circumstances.
Will it make a big difference if I change all my training to be 2 hours time in zone, especially sweetspot? I’m a bit worried that I would get burned-out. 2 hours sweetspot looks like quite a lot, but it could be done with lower intensity. My question is probably, is it better to do 40 minutes at 95%, or 2 hours at 90% (or 85%, I still need to try it)?

Spend more and more time in SS…work on extending that time before you go there. Raise your FTP and TTE as high as possible. Ride sustained climbs in your area as much as possible.

And use Ven-Top on Zwift as a regular training tool……sure, you won’t get the climatic conditions that you’ll experience IRL, but you can simulate the grade and pacing.

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Don’t do that 5 days a week! That will be serious overtraining. You should only have 2-3 intense (Sweet spot, threshold, or higher) training days per week, the others should be lower intensity (endurance or tempo).

You might be using your words incorrectly or maybe you misunderstand, but riding for two hours does not mean that you get 2 hours time in zone. Time in zone (TiZ) means how much time in that workout was at each power zone. If you do a 1 hour VO2 max workout a typical VO2 max TiZ would be 20 minutes with the other 40 minutes at lower power for warm up, recovery, cool down, etc.

For training, you should generally follow a climbing training plan, which gives you high and low intensity workouts, micro and macro cycles.

If you want to do some simulations of the climb and you’re looking for a power target, you can look at your power curve at 2 hours (check how far back the data is in the curve, 6 weeks is about right). Whatever that power value is, that’s what average power you’ve ridden for 2 hours in the past. You can take that number and divide by FTP, that gives you the intensity factor to target.

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What % of your 3w/kg FTP have you assumed riding at in order to arrive at your 2 hour estimate?

Please don’t say 100% :grin:

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I would train normally, but I would add a specificity day of long tempo, on top of threshold, vo2 and endurance.

I would train tempo, SS and head adaptation. I was there and from one side I could barely manage tempo even if my climbing time was shorter. The steeper side on another day worked out better and I did it in SS. As it is long, you need to be heat adapted if you are not very lucky. I was there in May and it was over 30 deg C even before midday. Btw. at the top it is very windy even on a normal day!

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About 85%, but the time doesn’t change much with ftp%. 100% is 1h50, 75% (which is LT1) is 2h15.

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Yes, I wasn’t using the correct words. I know my Threshold or VO2Max workouts will not be 2 hours TIZ.
My zone 2 should probably be as often as possible 2 hours (or more) TIZ, at a lower power Z2 power that what I’m currently doing if needed.
The question is on the sweetspots workouts, 1 to 3 times a week, depending on which block I’m in. The ascension will be 2 hours at the highest power I can (sweetspot), and will crush me for a few days, so I will not reproduce that in training.
For specificity, in training, I can target power or time, not both together. I could target 2 hours at a lower sweetspot power, or I can target the higher sweetspot power for shorter time (how much shorter should it be, 1 hour?). I don’t know which way to go, maybe a mix…

Have you ever done 2 hours at 80-85% FTP? If not, I think a test would be in order to establish a current 2 hour baseline pace and build from there.

Additionally, if you can figure out roughly what your cadence would be on the climb based on your available gearing, train at that cadence. I think Ventoux starts off easier and then becomes a long steep drag, so if your gears will limit you to ~70 rpm that’s a different kind of fatigue resistance you need to train.

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You should also consider altitude when pacing. I did Mount Evan in the US last year, which starts at 7000ft and goes to over 14,000. I was very unprepared from a fitness standpoint this year and I couldn’t do Zone 2 from about 12,500 to the top. It took me nearly as hour longer than when I was younger and skinnier. It was pretty miserable,. At least the view from the top was nice.

As far as training goes, I would lean toward some 2.5 to 3 hour upper Z2 rides. What you can do for 3 hours should be more than doable for 2 with attitude and heat.

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Good shout.

Out of interest I just looked at my best approx 2 hr ride on Zwift. I averaged 90.5% of FTP over 2h11m. That was 3 sub 5 min climbs with SS/Tempo/high Z2 in btwn and then 27 min climb to finish.

I’m sure you’re already planning on a separate ascent that’s just for taking it all in. If not, definitely get a climb or two in with no performance goals. Even stop for a photo or two that day.

Enjoy, and all the best with the fast ascent.

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Yes, altitude is a factor that I’m unfamiliar with and I’m not sure how much % it will take from my power. However, the top of the Ventoux is still quite low with about 6200 feet/1900m. It will have some impact but it will be very different than climbing to 14,000 feet.
I will definitely do some mountain climbs in my region, but they are pretty low and are mostly closed for winter. I hope it will still give me some info on how to pace getting close to the top.

Yes, good advice.
Depending on how much I will stay there I may do the three ways to climb it. My first ascent will probably be very relaxed (but long). The climb from Bédoin is the most famous, and the most beautiful I believe, so I may end up doing it twice just for enjoying it, and just for the time…
I’m still early in the planning, but I could stay longer in south of France. Depending on where we go it could mean other legendary climbs that I would have to factor in.

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Jelly that you get to go climb Mount Ventoux Climb @ChrisDe :star_struck:

From a TR perspective, this one’s easy!

You have more than enough time to create a training plan leading up to it, so I would recommend using Plan Builder and selecting the Climbing Road Race discipline:

Races and rides with big climbs require many of the same skills as other terrain—endurance, a strong sprint, and the ability to attack above threshold. But long ascents place a unique focus on sustained power, and the Climbing Road Race plans are specially designed to develop this ability.

These plans include plenty of above-threshold work that benefits every roadie, but add an additional emphasis on the sustained near-threshold power that you’ll need to drop the pack (or your nephew-in-law) on long climbs, especially after hours of challenging racing. If your goal events include long uphill efforts, this is the plan for you.

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Depending on which side you go up, there’s some fairly sustained steepness on Ventoux so it’s definitely worth targeting some lower cadence efforts.

Another potentially unhelpful suggestion is to have a look at Club des cinglés du Mont-Ventoux

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Hi - I’ve climbed Ventoux about a dozen times over the years, by all 3 routes. Bedoin is the hardest, but is considered the “classic” route. It’s the least pretty in my view. I’ve done a double, and hope to do a triple ascent soon (Les Cinglés).

To reiterate what others have said, lots of sweet spot and some threshold is where I’d focus. Also, lower cadence for some of those intervals as your cadence will probably be low for long portions.

It might be worth trying one of the simulated routes on line. Although it’s easier in real life to climb that grade than on a trainer.

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Zwift has a simulation of Ventoux which could be good for a few test runs.

These Zwift simulations can be pretty realistic. GCN did a video a couple years ago where they had someone do Alp D’Huez on Zwift then in real life and the times were within about 6 minutes of each other at the same average power.

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Good call on the cadence. I did the first half of Ventop today, as easy as I could, but my cadence was way too low with my power way too close to FTP. I currently have a 50/34 and 11/30, but I will get the 11/34 cassette. Even with that it would be good to loose a few kg and gain a few watts :slight_smile:

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