Virginie Palermo — L'Étape du Tour

“I always find the first couple of hours hard to eat, because I feel like I've just eaten so much already at breakfast. In fact, I find that those first two are the hardest hours because mentally you think that you have enough in you for 4 hours, but realistically you probably only have enough in you for about an hour and half. So you need to start eating sooner.”

A chance to experience the allure of the big mountains. To pit ourselves against the drama and history of the most famous roads in cycling. Where Grand Tours are won — and lost. Maurten fueled all riders at the 2024 L'Étape du Tour, but the specifics of fueling 138km with 4,600m of ascent are personal. Virginie Palermo explains her approach.

“My fueling strategy within these rides is to estimate the amount of hours it's likely to take me. I'm pretty small, so my carb intake per hour is usually around 60-80 grams. I don't have the trained gut to get to 100, but I'm also really tiny so as long as I can get 60-80 grams per hour then I will usually feel pretty good.”

“Once the Drink Mix bidon is empty I start with a Gel every 45 minutes. I know it's a weird time, but I have it set on my head unit to just remind me every 45 minutes so that I take a Gel. And then I'll have two Solids pre-opened in my pocket and I'll just take bites out of them with eating the Gel. I just find it helps with textures. I tend to save the caffeine Gels for the last 2 or 3 hours.”

“On the climbs I felt more comfortable reaching in to a back pocket, eating things, and having one hand off the bar. Whereas in the descents I was full-on focus — I didn't want any distractions."

“I always place things in specific pockets so that I don't have to think. Non-caffeine always to the left and caffeine always to my right. Then usually I have a bar in each pocket and a bar down the middle pocket. For an event that's between 6 to 8 hours for me, I sort of know what I need in each pocket."

Words by Ross Lovell, Stills by Jan Kirkham