With a total of 2,400 amateur cyclists and 550 helpers from 65 regional teams in nine countries, Europe’s largest charity cycling team once again set a strong, colourful example of team spirit and social responsibility. In preparation for their TOUR DE PARIS 2022, the Team Rynkeby Hohes C in their yellow jerseys visited us in June on one of their weekend training rides. 35 cyclists of the team were happy about a short break at our head office in Mannheim (Germany) and enjoyed prepared snacks and drinks.
On their way to Paris, Team Rynkeby Nieder-Olm has a total of 900 km and 9,000 m of altitude ahead of them. They will have to cycle for about 40 hours in seven days. We interviewed two of the team’s athletes about their experiences and asked them how they prepared for the tour, which started on 10 July. We wanted to find out how BENEO’s unique carbohydrate Palatinose™ helps them in their sport and what they like about it.
For this reason, we interviewed two team representatives: Santiago Garcia Escobar, who used to be a professional cyclist with plenty of cycling experience, and Torsten Froehlich, who has been preparing for the tour alongside his job and who rides a racing bike more as a hobby.
Who and what is Team Rynkeby?
Torsten Froehlich: Team Rynkeby is a large European charity cycling project for the benefit of seriously ill children. Every year, more than 2,000 volunteers come together to take on a sporting challenge, have fun together and do something good in the name of charity.
Team Rynkeby consists of participants of all ages, and includes both cycling beginners and cyclists with many years of cycling experience. The oldest participant in the team is almost 60 years of age, the youngest have just passed the age limit of 18. Our goal is to get everyone who is interested and willing, fit enough during one year to cycle the 1,000 km to Paris on a racing bike.
How much do you train in advance for your tour to Paris and how do you integrate the training into your everyday life?
Torsten Froehlich: Our recommendation is that each participant should have covered about 2,500 km on a road bike before the tour to Paris. That is not an insignificant amount of time. Personally, I combine my training with sessions in winter on the roller, cycling to and from work and longer tours at the weekend.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: I did competitive cycling until 2020. After I had stopped my competitive career, I wasn’t sitting on the bike that often anymore. Nevertheless, I am active in sports (running especially) and keep my endurance at a good level so that I can go to Paris with the team.
Which physical qualities, e.g. endurance, mental power of concentration, are particularly important for your sport or project?
Torsten Froehlich: The most important thing is the mindset: a positive attitude and the motivation to support seriously ill children with the campaign help to get over heavy legs and doubts. Apart from that, the preparation for seven days on the bike is of course particularly important. Our training is designed to still have enough energy on day seven to complete the final km to Paris safely.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: Endurance and stamina are particularly important. Without one of the two, it would not be possible to complete the distance.
How many days or hours do you need to get to Paris?
Torsten Froehlich: We ride to Paris for seven days, a total of approx. 900 km and 9,000 m in altitude.
How should we imagine a typical daily routine during the tour?
Torsten Froehlich: We usually start our daily stages around 08:00 a.m. Before that, a healthy breakfast is the order of the day. After every 50 km there is a refreshment break. Varied meals are prepared by our support team and we have the opportunity to fill up our drinking bottles. Our team always rides together – with the strong riders supporting those who need help. We arrive at our destination at around 5:00 p.m. In addition to the technical care of the bikes, the focus is then on spending time together relaxing.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: We have a fixed structure. Every 50 km there is a food break and usually a short bio-break in between. During the tour, I only eat a bread roll during the break (break 1) and a bulgur salad or something similar (second break). We are lucky to have a support team with us that takes care of our food.
When you are not preparing for the Tour to Paris, what does your week look like in terms of training?
Santiago Garcia Escobar: When I was an active competitive athlete, I trained about 20 hours a week and between 400 and 600 km (spread over 5-6 days). At the weekend, usually on Sundays, I was racing.
Currently, however, my training programme is more like being active three times a week – be it on the bike or on foot (running). Running can be integrated into the daily work routine because of the shorter time for a similar feeling of exertion.
Back in 2019/20, we were already supported by BENEO and I was fortunately involved in the Palatinose™-based drink development and could also test it during my (personal) training.
How many hours do you train and how often do you have competitions / joint training tours?
Torsten Froehlich: My typical training week is about 200 – 250 km on the bike, so between eight and ten hours. Every three weeks we meet for joint training weekends where we increase intensity and length over time.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: I used to train five times a week (approx. 18 hours; 450 km). During competition also every Sunday, April – September, with a 60 to 250 km distance and 40-43 km/h average.
What does a typical training day look like for you or how many hours per day are you physically active?
Torsten Froehlich: I try to train for at least one hour three days a week. In addition, at the weekend I do one 3-4 hour session and one 2-hour session.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: The training was always between 2 and 7 hours long. Depending on the unit, with an interval programme or basic endurance training.
And in terms of food and drink: Is this different from a day during the tour?
Torsten Froehlich: During the longer sessions, I take a break for food after two hours; during the shorter sessions, the food comes from the jersey pocket/drink bottle. During our joint training sessions and the tour, we have the luxury of having our support team provide a variety of food.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: Normally I only took bars and energy gels during training rides. What you can take with you in your jersey pocket. And during the Tour I don’t eat bars or gels, but rather fresh products from our support team.
Have you used carbohydrates or other sports supplements in the past? What experience have you had with commonly available sports products/drinks?
Torsten Froehlich: I have always been very sceptical about such products. Of course, there was the occasional cola from the petrol station or a gel – but I was never satisfied with them.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: I have tried quite a few different products. Partly depending on the sponsor. These were always very sweet and there was hardly a race where I didn’t have stomach problems after the race (less blood flow in the digestive tract and lots of sugar were never my thing). At least these achieved the basic goal: provide energy.
How or where did you first hear about Palatinose™ and when you first heard about it, what interested you most about Palatinose™?
Torsten Froehlich: I first came into touch with Palatinose™ back in 2019. Our product development team developed a sports drink based on it, which helped me a lot to get through the first tour to Paris well.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: I got to know Palatinose™ through BENEO’s support of Team Rynkeby. Since I had already tested many sports nutrition products, I was asked by the R&D Department of Eckes-Granini if I could test the beverage before the final bottling. I did so with great pleasure. I was interested in slower available carbohydrates and the difference you could feel as a result.
When do you use Palatinose™ in your sports nutrition?
Torsten Froehlich: For long sessions.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: So far I have used Palatinose™ only for training rides and one or two competitions.
When do you currently consume Palatinose™?
Torsten Froehlich: During the training sessions.
How much (amount in grams or tablespoons) do you consume then?
Santiago Garcia Escobar: Hard to say. Depending on the concentration. I always drink about 500 ml of our drink with Palatinose™, every hour.
And how often do you consume it?
Torsten Froehlich: In the sports drink, approx. two litres per day.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: During the day during training, approx. 1.5 – 2.5 litres, depending on intensity and temperature.
Do you have a recipe suggestion for us that works best for you?
Torsten Froehlich: For me, it’s clear: our specially formulated sports drink, which provides the necessary minerals as well as energy.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: The Eckes-Granini drink, for sure 😉.
Have you noticed a difference during training or on tour since you started taking Palatinose™?
Torsten Froehlich: Yes, definitely. The performance remains high over a longer period of time and the horror of hunger pangs is gone.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: It helped me to be supplied with energy in the long term. With other products I often had the feeling that there was a moment when I suddenly needed a lot of sugar again. With Palatinose™, this felt more “long-lasting”.
What advantages do you see in using Palatinose™ instead of conventional “fast” carbohydrates (i.e. regular sugar, glucose, maltodextrin)?
Torsten Froehlich: I personally didn’t believe that there was a difference. I was taught better and now I don’t want to do without it – especially when it comes to peak performance over several days.
Santiago Garcia Escobar: I see the biggest advantage in the digestibility. I tolerate it better. I have also felt a “longer” and more “sustained” energy release.
Thank you very much for this detailed interview!
Over the weekend (10 July 2022), the teams have now set off for Paris. We wish all participants of the TOUR DE PARIS 2022 good luck!!! If you want to follow the tour and see impressions of the stages, click the button below.
This interview was originally recorded in German and then translated into English.