Hydration strategies for UCI Pro cyclists

About Kevin Poulton (Head Coach - Team Katusha)

Kevin Poulton is the Head Coach of UCI Pro Cycling Team Katusha Alpecin and Founder of Powerhouse Cycling.

With 20 years of coaching experience, and victories in Paris-Roubaix 2016, Grand Tour stage wins, World Tour Classics and many podium places at World Tour level, Kevin understands the planning, science and training required to win the biggest cycling races.

How important is adequate hydration for UCI Pro cyclists and what is the impact of dehydration on riders?

Because the majority of racing lasts 4 – 7 hours, there is a real risk of the athletes suffering from dehydration. We know that fluid loss of just 2% is going to have huge effect on the athlete’s ability to perform. This means that all the hard work an athlete puts into preparing for a race can easily be undone by a poor hydration strategy on race day.

What is a typical hydration and race fuelling protocol for riders during a multi-day event?

A large part of our race strategy involves consuming enough carbohydrates to match the required workload. With this in mind, we are able to combine hydration and carbohydrate intake into the nutritional plan for the race. Prior to competition, each athlete has had their sweat rate tested, so we always have a target hydration strategy to match this. Generally, we are aiming for each rider to consume a 500ml carbohydrate mix every hour. Post-race, athletes are consuming a recovery drink which also aides in rehydration ready for the next day of competition.

When did you first come across PREPD and what response did you see from the athletes who trialled it?

I was first introduced to PREPD through a friend who knew I was about to conduct a pre-Vuelta training camp in Andorra during the height of Summer in 2018. I had conducted my research on PREPD and knew what the supposed benefits were. However, going into the camp I didn’t explain to the athlete in detail what he could expect to experience. I wanted to trial PREPD without giving away what we were looking for from the product. To my amazement, everything PREPD expected the athlete to experience with the product, he was conveying the same messages back to me. Most notably, he was strong in the final hour of training. He commented that he didn’t feel the need to drink as often, and there were less bathroom stops during the long training sessions. At the same time, I was monitoring pre and post exercise weight and I was very pleased with the minimal amount of fluid loss experienced despite the high temperatures.

How did PREPD fit into their normal hydration routine?

PREPD complimented our existing hydration strategy. We still had the need to take on carbohydrates during exercise to avoid decreased performance. For the athlete, implementing the use of PREPD pre and post training into the daily hydration strategy was seamless.

With ongoing use since initial trials, what kind of hydration differences have you seen with Pro cyclists using PREPD?

The key difference we continue to see with Pro cyclists using PREPD is less reduction in post exercise weight through better hydration. This reduced fluid loss is resulting in a stronger performance by the athlete especially in the later stages of racing.

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