In the Kitchen at La Vuelta

Fri 6 Nov 2020

Fuelling properly for a three-week Grand Tour takes a lot of planning and preparation to keep the meals varied, nutritious, and the correct amount to enable riders to perform consistently each day for a lengthy period.

We caught up with one of the Mitchelton-SCOTT team chefs Nicki Strobel to get an insight into the rider’s general meal plan for a typical day during the Vuelta a España.

Breakfast (Generally between 8-10am)
Strobel - “It is always pretty standard and what a lot of riders would usually eat at home. I make bread, porridge, bircher muesli, ham and cheese, eggs and some riders chose to have rice.

“It depends on each rider, but we try to set a target for each of them with what is an ideal portion size and then it is up to them to try and see if they can achieve it. If they are hungry, they will obviously eat more or less depending on fatigue levels and the type of day ahead.

“In general, a good solid breakfast would be half a kilogram of porridge, 100grams of bread, three eggs and maybe a glass of juice. The riders would usually always eat three hours before the race starts so that they have time to digest the food properly before they actually get on the bike. Some riders, again depending on the day, may then also have a small snack closer to the start something like a little piece of cake or a banana.”

Post-race meal (Generally between 5.30-6.30pm)
“Every day we always have food waiting for the riders on the bus after the stage. That is always pasta, rice, fresh fruit salad, a smoothie and some bircher muesli. The riders let me know what they want before the race and then it is packed individually in a lunch box container that is weighed for most of the riders to suit them personally.

“A general idea of weight would be 400grams of pasta but then on top of that they would need other stuff to get to the target intake, for example a smoothie with protein in it - as a standard 20grams of protein. They would also eat some very simple sugars like Haribo or a soft drink, but that is first, directly as they cross the finish line.”

Dinner Time (Generally between 8-10pm)
“From finishing the race, it is usually around three hours later that the riders will be ready for their evening meal of course depending on the transfer time. For dinner it is always two types of carbohydrates, either pasta or rice, or rice and potato or sweet potato and gnocchi. Any type of carbohydrate really, plus one or two types of meat.

“During the race we almost always go for white meat or fish, so that’s chicken or Turkey or fish and as an example that would be a 200gram chicken breast for an average rider. We typically stick to white meat or fish because red meat is slowly digested, and we have seen that when we serve red meat there is a trend that most riders are heavier the day after. 

“The amount of food for dinner really depends on how hard the stage was and how well they did their recovery. In general, the amount would be again around 300-400grams of pasta, always depending on the rider, then meat and vegetables and often a dessert choice.

“The dessert again always depends on if they will need a lot of carbs based on the stage they have completed and the stages coming. On a day where we know they will need a larger carb intake we would go for something sweet filled, often chocolatey.

“In this race, the Vuelta, an average day for our riders has been around 14grams of carbohydrates per kilogram.” 

Why not try a typical dish that the riders have enjoyed during this year's Vuelta a España? ⬇️

Recipe - Yellow curry with chickpeas and chicken (Serves 4 people)

-   2x onions
-   4x cloves of garlic
-   5cm piece of ginger
-   2x yellow peppers
-   1x chicken stock cube
-   1-2x fresh red chillies
-   1⁄2 a bunch of fresh coriander
-   1x teaspoon honey
-   1x teaspoon ground turmeric
-   2x teaspoons curry powder
-   8x chicken drumsticks
-   Olive oil
-   400g tin of cooked chickpeas
-   1x teaspoon tomato purée
-   320g basmati rice
-   1x lemon

-   Peel the onions, garlic and ginger and clean the peppers
-   Put 1 onion, 1 pepper, the garlic and ginger into a food processor. Crumble in the stock cube and add the chilli (remove seeds, if you prefer a milder curry), the coriander stalks, honey and spices, then blitz to a paste.
-   Place a large casserole pan on a medium-high heat and fry the chicken drumsticks (pull the skin off first, if you prefer) with a splash of oil for 10 minutes, or until golden, turning occasionally. Remove the chicken to a plate, leaving the pan on the heat.
-   Roughly chop the remaining onion and pepper and add to the pan to cook for a few minutes, then tip in the paste and let it cook for around 5minutes.
-   Pour in 500ml of boiling water. Drain the chickpeas and add along with the tomato purée and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then stir well.
-   Return the chicken to the pan, pop the lid on, reduce heat to simmer gently for around 45minutes, or until the sauce darkens and thickens.
-   With 15minutes to go, put rice and 650ml water into a pan with a pinch of salt and simmer with the lid on for 12minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
-    Serve the curry with fresh coriander leaves and yoghurt

Nutrition info per serving:
Calories - 572
Fat - 17
Protein - 34 
Carbs - 75