Timing of gels for a 60 min climb ( L'Alpe d'Huez)

Tried searching, but could not find a good answer to this.

So I am doing the L’Alpe d’Huez Haute Route in three weeks time ( :fearful: :fearful:). The last day is an individual time trial up the legendary 21 turns. As many others, I have a goal of doing this in less than 60 minutes. Thanks to TR I think it’s doable. But, I have a question regarding fueling.

My plan is to have a bottle of sports drink with 40-50g of carbs, and a gel with 40g of carbs. I don’t think I could handle more than 80g/h. If it’s hot I will bring a bottle of water for cooling, otherwise I’ll skip it to save some weight. So the question is simply:

  • When to take the gel? This is “pure high octane fuel” so I would assume the carbs are absorbed quite quickly. So, when to time it? At the 30 min mark, last 15 minutes?

for a 1 hour time trial i would warm up, take the gel, start

i wouldn’t carry any liquids or other fuel for just an hour

this is based on ‘normal’ TT’ing not mountain TT’s but i would stick with the same plan.


Agreed. It’s just a steady climb near threshold power. 1 Gel 5 mins before and then a couple of gels spread through the effort and you’ll be fine.

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Sip 1/3-1/2 a bottle of beta fuel over the 20 mins before the start, caffeine gel 5 mins beforehand and then finish the second half of the bottle on the climb.

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Thanks for the replies. Seems there is consensus on taking in the gel just prior to start. That’s what I’ve been doing for my (too) early morning wo’s as well. Then for the climb itself I could either go for mix, or another gel (would assume halfway would make the most sense?). Will save some weight by doing gel only, and with SiS I can avoid water. Might take the final decision based on the weather. If it’s hot I might appreciate the fluid…

If it’s really hot I prefer to have a second bottle of water to wash down mix, or even chuck over the back of my neck.

I’d plan to have a gel a few minutes before the start (as others have said) and have a second one at La Garde between bend 17 and bend 16, where the gradiant eases off a bit. Not that you’ll really notice, but the village makes a really easy reminder of when to eat and lessens the chances of wobbling across the road and taking out other cyclists on a steeper section (I have seen this on AdH… but it wasn’t me). I’d also carry a third gel with me just in case - the last few turns when you can see the buildings above you can be pretty cruel.

Good luck!

For 1hr crits I typically fuel like this: warm up while sipping on a high carb bottle, take a gel on the start line, then sip on the bottle throughout the race. I could probably get through fine without the fuel during but lots of times it’s nice to wet my mouth and it gives me a good signal to relax.



Based on the replies I’ll bring a bottle, and a spare gel (or two). Temperature will dictate what’s in the bottle…

Sub 60 up A d’H is about 1050VAM for an hour. That’s couple of % higher than my PB-VAM for that duration. So I need all the marginal gains I can get. Especially with two days of climbing in the legs already. Putting TR to the test on this one :sunglasses:

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I’d go with gels as they’re lighter as well. I’d keep the bottles to a minimum, as much as the ride allows, ie you’ll have to base it on temp and what riding surrounds the climb. If I was just going out for that one effort, I’d have just enough water to get me to the top plus the gels. Depending on the temp, and how much you normally drink, that could be very little water.

Hey there.
I’ll be at the event too.
A spare Gel feels overkill really. If you are going to be around 60 minutes, the likelihood of you bonking is rather slim.
If however continued carb intake helps you (even if only mentally), than it’s better to overpack than to underpack.
50g gel is nothing in time lost, but feeling weak can be minutes.
We‘ll see about the weather, but if current forecasts are anything to go by, I’d advise taking water:


You don’t need to drink or eat in a 60 minute ride.

Take a caffeine gel beforehand sure, and make sure you’re well hydrated. If you care about time carrying a bottle up will make a small difference, but practicalities dictate you probably want a bottle with you anyway.


Good luck!
Seems like we will get our climbing legs tested in three weeks time :grinning: Given the changes in elevation I think pacing, clothing and nutrition will be key to nail these days. With 0730 starts at 2000m it could be 5 degC at A d’H, and then suddenly 30 degC at the valley floor some hours later.

Did the Dolomites back in 2018, and really looking forward to this!

That’s where the race bag comes in handy. You can ride down the Alpe with a windbreaker and knee warmers on, and then drop that in the race bag. Ride up in race gear and pick your stuff up at the top.
However, I don’t expect this to be an issue.
Current forecast is that the temperature never drops below 13C. Also, I Hope my TT doesn’t start before 9am :wink:

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The most important thing here is everything that you do during the days leading up to the last day with TT.

Glycogen uptake is very low during hard efforts (hence why pros are asked to take in fuel at the top of the mountain so when they descend body can focus on uptake.

Make sure to really really get those carbs in before and after the stages, pasta, rice, pasta, rice. Since its lots of ascending, keep fibres to a low if you wanna save some weight, since these are just gonna hang around in the gut. So skip the oatmeal and focus on simple carbs with low fibre!

And on the day of the TT, take 2 gels before (90g carbs) and maybe just have a bottle 1/2 filled with some water or whatever if that helps you psychologically. Taking in additional carbs isn’t gonna help for the hour climb since you’ll be using the gels that you took in before, and the glycogen stored from the carb intake the day before and morning of…

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I don’t like taking gels on the move and for hour TT’s the gel/ banana before technique has worked for me although I am not a the pointy end. I’ve been up the Alpe Du Huez twice, but not exactly racing, my record the first time was 1:12 and I doubt other than energy drink that I would have carried I would have anything else. If I was to race up the Alpe I’d lose that. Good luck!

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Great points. I don’t remember the intervals between riders on the TT, but if I think/hope I’m fit enough for a 60 finish then my start should also be well after 9am.

Again good points! Compared to last time I did the Haute Route I’m more aware of fueling; before, during and after. If temperatures dictate it I’ll bring a bottle of water for cooling and cottonmouth.

In the spirit of TR I know I shouldn’t base success on this very binary goal. If I do everything right but still end up at 60+ minutes I will still be satisfied. Reaching my, somewhat stretch, goal will be the icing on the cake. In 2019 only 57 of 230 riders made the magic 60 minute cut so I know it will take some grit (and about 290 watts for an hour…) :crazy_face:

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I am a lot more scared of faltering again on stage 2. During Hr Crans Montana, the third climb of the day always came to bite me. I lost significant time on what would be the equivalent of Sarenne in this event.
The fatigue + the heat. That’s tough!
A TT up one mountain is pretty straight forward. Of course there is compound fatigue from the previous days, but the climb is short enough so you‘re unlikely to bonk. Also, it is early enough in the day that you won’t ride in the heat (the climb is on the West Bank of the mountain, so it’ll be in the shade in the morning).
I’d definitely have a good hard look at HRM during the TT, in order to not over pace.

Only 13.6k of the climb are actually timed, so a sub 1 hour effort should be a little easier.
Also good to not have to start out hard from the ramp. That usually gets my blood sugar spiking.
A little warm up and then full send when the road really gets steep.

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One hour I would do no water, carbs, powders, or gels unless it is really hot and then I might do a half filled bottle with really cold water (and if there is water, there might as well be some carb/electrolyte in it). But for a hour I don’t plan on any fueling.