Uno-X Pro Cycling — life inside a Grand Tour

There's an endearing aura around the new — the underdog — teams in cycling’s Grand Tours. The fresh-faced energy bringing a spark of exuberance to a peloton of grizzled old-timers. A team buoyed by the opportunity to exceed expectation. But going shoulder-to-shoulder with the big-budget teams is a steep learning curve — perhaps the toughest climb of the race. Each day they learn a little more. Ascend a little further. We spoke to Head Nutritionist of Uno-X Pro Cycling, James Moran, to find out what it takes to keep a full team rolling for three full-on weeks.

"The Grand Tours bring an extra layer of stress and feeling around the whole race environment. Even if you're not leading the race there's an air — an atmosphere — and it's easy to be sucked in by the emotion. So a big focus for us is keeping our guys relaxed and feeling like it's any other stage race."

"In this team we have a great culture of looking out for each other and staff well-being. So when we're on stage races we have an Uno-X running club and the staff will get out for 30 minutes together before getting on with all the jobs. And that's a nice way to kick the day off, for physical and mental well-being. Because when you're on the road for a month it's easy for that to fall by the wayside."

"The riders get a nutritional plan sent out to them the night before each stage, which is where I will predict the energy demands and requirements for the day. It's a guide for breakfast, on-bike fueling and recovery. And then I will have a quick chat with them over breakfast. The idea is to reduce stress, so each rider comes to breakfast knowing what they can eat, rather then have me standing over them telling what they can or can't have.”

"In some ways there's also a race within the race. Any staff who aren't directly in the race cars — the carers, the nutritionists, the osteopath — all have roles within the stages to distribute extra feeds. So we get deployed at different points across the race. And I need to coordinate which products go to the riders at certain spots and at what time. That all depends on the type of stage and the weather conditions. It's quite full-on. But we try to plan the logistics of that days in advance."

“We have a team who aren't in the race. And they go from one hotel to the next, setting up the rooms for each rider. During the stage the chef will drive to the supermarket and then arrive at the next hotel, set the tables up, set the dining room up. And I will be in touch with the chef throughout the day to plan the meal for that night. Although we have a template for meals throughout the whole race, we will adapt it as the race progresses, based on feedback and how each day has gone for the riders.”

Words by Ross Lovell, Photos by Dan King, Connor Bryan and Johannes Wiken, Wordup Projects