Sean Kelly’s six top tips for preparing for a big sportive

Posted on: June 12th, 2018

Sean Kelly knows more than most about cycling so when he offers advice on how best to prepare for events it’s wise to take his advice. Here, he offers six very useful pieces of information on how best to get ready for your big sportive of the year (Photo with thanks to Sean Kelly Cycling)


Sean Kelly’s knowledge of cycling knows no bounds and be it competing at the highest level or just having some fun on the weekends, he’s seen and done it all.

So when he gives out advice on how best to prepare for events it’s probably worth taking his word for it.

Kelly – who is riding Tour de Burren this weekend including the new night into day dawn ride – shares a few very useful tips for how best to get to and through a big sportive.


1 Do the miles!

“You must do the right type of training; if you’re doing a sportive like the Etape du Tour or the Marmotte, they’re very, very difficult with a lot of climbing and a lot of Cols so you need to prepare correctly.

“First of all , you have to do the basic training which means doing the sufficient miles now and then when you’re at a higher level of course you can do the hill training.

“We see people in difficulty every year, people who have to walk the climbs because they haven’t done enough distance training or enough hills so my advice is to vary your training and incorporate undulating or mountainous terrain.”


2 A functioning bike

“It’s so important to have a bike that works properly.

“It’s going to be vital to have your bike in real good condition and everything is functioning correctly before the event.”


3 Positioning

“You need to be comfortable for a long day – and they will be long days on some of the big sportive events so take time to get your position right.”


4 Gearing

“This is majorly important.

“A lot of people underestimate how difficult the long climbs can get so my advice is use low gearing and save your legs as best you can.

“If you don’t, that’s where you can really suffer later on and have your day destroyed.”


5 Nutrition

“Leading into the event and up to the day and night before you need to eat the right foods.

“You must also hydrate very well and on the day itself it’s important to take your bars and gels throughout the day every 15-20 minutes.”


6 Kitted out

“Good clothing is another key element to consider.

“Having quality chamois is important and do not use new clothing on the day of the event.

“Be familiar with it but also be prepared. In a sportive it can be warm in the valley but at high altitude it can get cold so bring a gilet.

“If it’ll be wet you need a rain cape and the shoes are the main contact point with your bike so don’t use them on the day of the event! Be used to them.”