Cycling legend Miguel Indurain's top tips for racing success

By Miguel Indurain
My number one lesson from riding the Tour is a very simple one – learn to ride hills and you will have a big advantage! Everyone knows that you can’t win the Tour if you don’t know how to climb. But still many people do not put this in their training, maybe they are intimidated by the fear of the climb?
The good thing is you know that if the thought of long steep climbs intimidates you, it will probably intimidate your opponents too. So if you can overcome this fear and become a strong climber you have a big advantage. Here are my recommendations for conquering the climb.
  • Do some climbs! This might sound obvious but so few people deliberately set out to work on hills. Don’t be afraid of it. You should pick the biggest, longest hill you can find. You need to push yourself beyond what you thought was possible. The mental strength you will gain will be enormous. If you don’t have lots of hills near you, find one good one and use it for reps. Failing that, if you’re really brave you can put some tough hills in the middle of one of your long rides.
  • Learn good climbing technique. A lot of riders submit to the hill immediately and let their technique disappear.
  • Stay seated. Unless you are involved in a sprint stay in the saddle. This is around 10% more efficient which is the name of the game in such an endurance event.
  • Keep your revs up. Drop your gears to a level that allows you to keep a cadence of approximately 70-80rpm.
  • Maintain your posture. When the hill is hurting, form can go out of the window too easily. This will make you less efficient (so the hill will hurt more) and lets your competitor know you’re in trouble. If you keep working like a machine and look comfortable it will break your opponent! 
  • Drop your weight to improve your power:weight ratio. Too often riders think this means spending more money on a bike that weighs 10g less! This is much more important in the climb than it is on the flat. So if you aren’t already, then getting lean will get you up to the summit a little easier.
  • If you aren’t naturally powerful then  you may need to try working on the other side of the equation and increasing your power. Weight training and hard hill sessions will significantly boost your power output. Stick to barbell exercises such as front squats, single-leg squats and lunges rather than machines.
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