Categories: Race
Tags: cycling

Pro tips for climbing | Q&A with Tour de France cyclist Guillaume Martin

July 13, 2018

Photo credit: Photonews

There aren’t many professional cyclists who can say they’ve participated in the Tour de France while holding a master’s degree in philosophy. We’d imagine even fewer have a third-place TdF stage finish in their palmarès as well.

Enter French rider, Guillaume Martin.

After finishing an impressive 23rd in his debut at the 2017 Tour de France, he and his team Wanty-Groupe Gobert have returned to the 2018 edition to settle the score.

We caught up with this GC contender and climber-extraordinaire to discuss some of his fundamental climbing tactics. From monitoring your power to keeping a high cadence, Guillaume Martin shares his insider tips from the pro peloton  perfect for cyclists in all stages of the sport.

At the time of this interview, Martin and team Wanty-Groupe Gobert were at a team training camp in the Pyrenees, preparing for the Tour. As of the publishing date of this post, they are wrapping up Stage 7 – a 231 km route from Fougères to Chartres.

Let’s start with the basics, how long have you been a pro?

I’ve been with Wanty-Group Gobert for three years.

When did you realize climbing, specifically, was your biggest strength on the bike?

I’m a small person [5’ 6”] with a light build, so I knew I could climb well. It’s something I’ve been working on for a long time.

Let’s say a beginner wants to get better at climbing, do you have any simple tips or techniques?

The number one tip is conserving energy, also watching nutrition. Plus, don’t always stay in the same position. Mix up climbing out of the saddle and in a seated position  it gives your muscles a break.

Are there any key metrics you monitor while climbing specifically?

Power is the most important because it’s the most accurate. It tells you instantly how you’re performing. Of course, I monitor my heart rate as well, but when I’m climbing, I mostly focus on power.

We use Polar cycling computers for everything. I watch my power numbers and heart rate on the screen while training and racing. It’s important to keep your power average consistent at all times.

I also try to have a high cadence, so my muscles get less tired. Even when you’re tired, it’s important to focus on keeping the cadence high.

You mentioned cadence, what gearing do you usually run?

It depends on the slope. I usually use 39:28. I like to be able to spin when the grade gets really steep. I don’t always use the lowest gear but I like having it as a safety for steeper parts.

What are some of your favorite climbs?

The Col du Galibier in the Tour de France last year. It’s a good memory even though I was really tired and it’s so tough. We also did a training camp there, so it’s become a favorite.

What is your next race?

The Tour de France is my next challenge. It is the biggest race of the year, and my main focus. I am riding GC for our team, so I hope to do well. We are at a training camp right now in the Pyrenees preparing for the race.

It’s not decided yet what we’ll race after the Tour de France. My goal for the end of the season is the [UCI Road] World Championships, which is very demanding this year.

What do you say to someone who is STARTING their cycling career?

First and foremost, you need to enjoy it  pleasure above all. Cycling is a difficult sport, but when you see it as a game, it can truly be a pleasure.