Featured Features

Nigel Mitchell Nutrition Talk

Nigel MitchellNigel Mitchell, Head of Nutrition at Team Sky (and GB Cycling Team Nutritionist to boot), knows a thing or two about what it takes to provide power to the pedals. Last year he was part of the team that helped power Sky to a Tour de France one-two podium finish and go on to help Wiggins and co tear up both track and road at the London Olympics – this year, of course, it was Froome’s turn for a TdF win. Taking time out of his busy Schedule, he talked to Cyclo to discuss  diet  and help answer the question: How can your average rider come close to the nutrition perfection practiced at Team Sky?


CaloriesIt’s a very individual thing obviously, but a Team Sky rider is probably using about 6000kcal on a long leg of the Tour de France for example. But then if you’ve someone doing a six or seven hour sportive you’re not going to be a million miles away from that. The foods are going to be similar, just that the amount is going to be scaled up or down. You have to remember that if you eat on the bike you can easily be taking on 80g of carbs (360kcal) per hour whilst riding. It’s not as big as you might think….


Getting the mix rightAt Team Sky we work on about 60-90g of carbs per hour and that can be done with a mixture of race drinks, a nutrition bar, maybe a gel and rice cakes, paninis are good. Just simple ever-day foods. This will depend on the intensity of the racing, but dead Easy.


Fast and slow release carbsYou have to think about delivery systems – it’s a little bit like transport networks; if you’re running barges that travel at 5miles an hour but they are delivering every five minutes, then you have an effective delivery system. If you have a Ferrari but it only runs once a week then it’s not as effective as using the much slower barges.


Having some designated fast carbs, like gels, is particularly useful if you are going into something that’s going to be a big effort: bottom of a climb, something like that. A lot of the foods that we tend to give our riders is more of the medium glycaemic, but they are eating on a very regularly basis so they are meeting that delivery system. If they need, let’s call it ‘quick energy’, then a gel makes sense. Gels for your sportive rider are ideal if they are starting to flag or are getting fatigued, it’s a good fuelling system and they can get most of what they need there. Having a caffeinated gel in reserve can be really useful too.


FluidsTaking on adequate fluid on the bike and off of the bike is important to manage your hydration.  In Team Sky our energy/hydration drinks are provided by Gatroade.  We recommend one bidon of the race drink per hour, as it gets hotter we just get more fluid from water.  Everyone has different sweat rates you can check your weight before and after training, take into account any fluid drunk and work out the weight difference and therefore your approximate sweat rate.  This is easily done during a 60-minute turbo session.


Pre- and post-ride foodsBreakfast might be omelette and rice or porridge – that’s popular with our guys. Some fruit juice is great. After the bike for your sportive riders – chicken, fish, meat, rice, potatoes, vegetables – exactly the same as our guys are eating. It’s all very simple, straightforward stuff…


ProteinThe foods that I’ve mentioned already have a lot of protein in too. The rice cakes that we make have cream cheese in, the bars are a flapjack-type made by CNP, which have protein in, paninis tend to be ham and cheese. So our riders are eating protein on the bike.


You have different metabolic pathways and protein isn’t directly involved in carb metabolism but some of the amino acids and nitrogenous compounds that you get from protein are involved. It’s not a direct effect – the role of protein on he bike isn’t about performance, it’s a recovery thing. It helps them or you ride again the next day. To put it very simply the carbs are for fuelling you and the proteins aid recovery…


The simplicity of milkI’m a big believer in dairy products in general and in milk particularly – I think it’s fantastic. What you can do very easily with milk is add a couple of bananas which will boost the carb content if you need that, but a pint of milk alone will deliver about 20g of carbs just by itself. It’s a great recovery product, just not always that convenient post-ride…


Vegetable juicesWe use a lot of vegetable juices at Team Sky and, again, your sportive riders can do this just as easily. The reason we use fresh vegetable juice is that it’s an easy way to consume the goodness of the vegetable without the bulk. If you’re scaling up your diet and you have to get through loads of pasta or whatever then if you can reduce the bulk that’s needed to be eaten as far as the vegetables are concerned, by getting it in the form of a juice, then you can clearly see the benefits of that.


Additional supplementsGenerally I don’t think they’re necessary – perhaps the only one where there might be a real benefit is the Omega-3s, the fish oils, because it’s difficult with a modern diet to get all of the Omega-3 fats from food alone. The quality of the supplement product is vital though – the one we use in the team is very high quality, it’s the CNP Pro-Omega.


Beetroot supplementsThere’s probably not a huge benefit, but then again they probably won’t hurt anyone. The worst it will do is turn your pee pink. Under a controlled trial you can show some benefits, but for your sportive rider I’d say save you money and spend it on a set of lighter wheels and do a bit more training. Most benefit comes from training. Basically there are other things you can focus on to improve your performance. Get out on the bike a bit more is key….


Weight-loss for cyclingWhat you want to be doing is protecting lean tissue and dropping fat, the best way of doing that is making sure you are getting good quality, regular protein intake and bringing down the calories just a bit. If you don’t get the balance right you end up losing a lot of functional tissue and muscle mass and that, of course, will affect your performance adversely. Some people get it completely wrong and end up looking fatter than before because they have lost proportionally more muscle than fat – they develop what I call the ‘skinny-fat look’, which isn’t at all good.


Personal favourite bike foodIt’s bananas for me. If you do a four-hour ride it’s difficult to carry enough for the full four hours, but I love them… 


Featured Features

The Breeze Revolution

The Breeze RevolutionThe rise in popularity of cycling in the UK over the last few years has been undeniably phenomenal and it’s been heartening to see that the increase in the number of women taking to two-wheels has been as sustained and impressive as for men, with an estimated 63,000 more women cycling regularly during the last 12 months alone. In no small part this trend has been encouraged and supported by Breeze, set up in May 2011 by British Cycling and designed to: ‘…tackle barriers facing women and provide as many fun and free opportunities to help them get back on their bikes.’


Whilst the equally commendable Cycletta events – staged by Human Race – focus more on semi-competitive (and sometimes downright competitive) sportive-style rides, Breeze’s more relaxed approach has helped thousands of women regain, or discover for the first time, the thrill of the bike with the mantra: ‘Cycling is all about the unbridled joy of butterflies in your tummy and the wind in your face as you freewheel down a hill.’


With support from the National Lottery – via Sport England’s Active Women’s fund – a local network of trained female Breeze champions was created to provide local opportunities for women. British Cycling has already trained over 950 passionate and enthusiastic female volunteers to become Breeze champions (if you’re interested in becoming one click here) and so far, they have helped deliver almost 5,000 bike rides and inspired over 26,000 women to get involved; impressive for a scheme barely two and a half years old. Natalie Justice, the Women’s Network Project Manager for British Cycling says: ‘Our Breeze champions are at the heart of everything we do and are a real inspiration to women in their local communities. Getting into cycling doesn’t have to be a daunting experience and our champions are there to support participants and start them on their cycling journey.’


So how does a Breeze ride work? Designed to suit all ages and abilities, the majority of the rides are on traffic-free routes designed to be ideal for busy mums and anyone who hasn’t been on a bike for a while. Led by women, for women, the rides usually start or end at a local café, where cake and conversation reinforce the informal, friendly nature that has made them such a success. In addition because many of the rides are designed to embrace riders’ children too they represent an opportunity for ‘quality time’, whilst actively encouraging the next generation of Laura Trotts and Joanna Rowsells


Last year saw a growing number of successful Breeze cycling events for women. From informal bike riding events like the Big Breeze Bike Ride and Breeze in the Park, through to a partnership with the aforementioned Cycletta and collaborative work with a number of other sportive organisers to provide more challenging rides for women.


But it’s not all about the ride. Buying a bike or getting one repaired can also be something of a daunting experience and Breeze campaign for and promote female-friendly bike shops, and their partnership with the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) promotes independent bike shops who support women new to bike riding with straightforward advice, a range of women’s bikes and family kit, and information on local rides and bike hire facilities. These partnerships have already helped accredit over 300 independent bike shops and is continuing to influence some positive changes for women within the industry.


Breeze has proven an integral part in the rise of UK cycling and it continues (with your help) to go from strength to strength. To be a part of the Breeze network please visit



British Cycling and Madison Renew Contract

British Cycling and Madison Renew ContractBritish Cycling has announced that it is renewing its contract agreement with Madison as an official supplier. The partnership, first formalised in 2009 through the Shimano brand, has gone from strength to strength and gives British Cycling access to products from across the Madison stable of brands to support the development of the GB Team – the renewal means that the agreement will be in place beyond the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Madison will also be supporting British Cycling through participation programmes, their ongoing membership drive and additional initiatives such as the Insight Zone, the online expert-knowledge resource open to all (see


Commenting on the agreement British Cycling’s chief executive, Ian Drake, said, ‘Madison is the market-leading cycle products distributor in the UK and we are looking forward to a further four years of partnership on the road to success in Rio. Our membership has just reached the 75,000 milestone and the additional support brought to British Cycling through this agreement further highlights the strength of the programmes we are running outside of the Great Britain Cycling Team… This relationship not only benefits British Cycling as an organisation, but also the sport of cycling at all levels.’


For further information on British Cycling see and for Madison



£40million of Cycle Safety Schemes

£40million of Cycle Safety SchemesThe Department for Transport has announced 78 cycle safety schemes which will benefit from £40million of national and local government investment, a move welcomed by British Cycling who worked with the DoT in selecting the proposals to improve the design and layout of roads in towns and cities across in England. The schemes are a mix of improvements including the reallocation of road space, ‘significant simplification’ of road layouts, changes to priority and junction layouts, designs that lower speed and changes to crossings.


Making the announcement Transport Minister Norman Baker commented, ‘This is part of the £107 million investment we have announced in cycling infrastructure over the last year, over and above the £600 million we have invested through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund…’


Martin Gibbs, British Cycling Director of Policy, added:  ‘The investment will pay real dividends because more people on bikes means a healthier population requiring less help from the NHS… Reducing congestion will make our towns and cities better places to live and if we want to continue to produce Tour de France winners and Olympic and Paralympic champions, we need as many people cycling as possible, especially young people.’


The schemes, which are funded via a £20m government grant and £20m of local authority match-funding, cover every part of the UK apart from London which is overseen by Transport for London. The regional breakdown is: East of England – £5.31m, East Midlands – £3.17m, the North East – £3.29m, the South West – £3.09m, the North West – £14.77m, the South East – £5.57m, West Midlands – £1.51m, and Yorkshire and Humber – £2.62m.



A Journey of Inspiration and Opportunity

A Journey of Inspiration and OpportunityThe national governing body British Cycling has launched its campaign to encourage a far greater take-up of cycling, at all levels, by women. Announcing plans at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – in the esteemed company of Becky James and Jess Varnish – the plans, supported by almost £70m in government funding over four years, should see one million more women cycling by 2020 in addition to greater representation within coaching and official positions.


Outlining the challenge ahead in their publication A Journey of Inspiration and Opportunity, British Cycling highlight the fact that only one in four once-a-week cyclists are women, one in five of cycle sport participants are women and a somewhat woeful one in seven British Cycling members are women.


The goals for the scheme include getting ‘more women cycling more often’, particularly through participation in schemes such as Breeze and Sky Ride, ‘creating opportunities to ride and race’, which will include establishing a series of entry-level races at ‘key facility hubs’, and getting ‘more women running the sport’ by growing the number of opportunities for women to become coaches, volunteers, leaders, officials and tutors.


For further details and to read the online version of A Journey of Inspiration and Opportunity see



British Cycling Appoints Andy Harrison

British Cycling Appoints Andy HarrisonBritish Cycling has announced the appointment of Andy Harrison as their new Programmes Director – his role will support that of Sir Dave Brailsford who in addition as serving as British Cycling’s Performance Director is Sky’s Team Principle. Harrison, who originally trained as a sports scientist at the University of Liverpool, is currently Performance Operations Manager for the English Institute of Sport (EIS) and will take up his new role in May.


Commenting on the appointment, British Cycling’s Chief Executive, Ian Drake, said: ‘Andy Harrison’s experience as a performance support and management expert for several major sporting bodies gives him a solid grounding for our new Programmes Director role. This is about creating a sustainable structure from which Britain can continue on its journey to become a cycling nation at all levels. It’s going to be a challenge to ensure we can sustain the remarkable success that we’ve achieved so far… I’m confident that the addition of Andy to the team alongside Sir David Brailsford as Performance Director and Shane Sutton as Head Coach will give us the best possible chance of continued success.’


Harrison added, ‘Having worked alongside the GB Cycling Team during their last two successful Olympic cycles, I am looking forward to becoming more involved with them as they work towards Rio… I think my experience and learnings from the elite sports industry will help drive the momentum which the team has picked up and I’m happy to have this opportunity to work with the GB Cycling Team.’



Herne Hill Velodrome Development

Herne Hill Velodrome development work Cyclo is delighted to learn that work on phase two of regeneration of the legendary Herne Hill Velodrome has begun following the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust’s successful funding application via the Southwark Council Olympic Legacy Fund. Herne Hill is the last surviving venue from the 1948 London Olympics and has been the proving ground of innumerable British champions; the latest developments will see the building of a 250metre junior track, perimeter floodlights and hard standing within the track’s centre for activities such as Bikeability training. It is expected that work on the junior track – which will sit within the historic main track – will be complete by mid-March in time to stage the venues renowned Good Friday meeting which was first run in 1903 and has seen the likes of Graeme Obree and Bradley Wiggins compete.


The long-running campaign to save and ultimately regenerate the Herne Hill Velodrome was given a significant boost in 2011 when British Cycling negotiated a commitment from site owners, the Dulwich Estate, to ensure its future. The deal allowed British Cycling to channel both funds and technical support into the project, which should ultimately see the complete restoration to track, grounds and grandstands.


For further information on the Herne Hill Velodrome see, for details of British Cycling’s involvement see and for details of how you can get involved (much help still needed) visit



Sport Industry Awards 2013

British Cycling Sport Industry Awards 20132012 was a year of memorable sporting events but even amongst such crowded competition the success of British cycling, both on track and on road, has been rightly reflected in the shortlist for the Sport Industry Awards 2013. Amongst those nominated to go forward for consideration by the main judging panel are three60 Sports Management and the Wasserman Media Group for their management of Victoria Pendleton and Mark Cavendish respectively and BskyB’s Sky Ride 2012 in The Community Programme Award category. Indeed BskyB take a double nod of recognition also being nominated in the Best Sponsorship of a Sport Team or Individual for their support of the GB Cycling Team 2012, whilst Team Sky go up against adidas, Channel 4, Paddy Power, The Wimbledon Championships and Team GB for Sport Brand of the Year.


Perhaps most gratifying of all though is seeing British Cycling nominated for Sport Governing Body of the Year with Chief Executive, Ian Drake, saying: ‘The past year has undoubtedly been the biggest and the best in British Cycling’s history so it is fantastic to hear that we have been nominated for this prestigious award.’ He continued, ‘Cycling is the sport that redefined our national sporting identity last year – we saw the first British winner of the Tour de France and took 16 gold medals home from London 2012 but, equally, we have seen some amazing achievements at the grassroots… On behalf of everyone involved with British Cycling, we are delighted that our hard work at all levels is being recognised by the sports industry.’


British Cycling face competition in the category from: the British Horseracing Authority, the British Olympic Association, England Hockey, RFL (Rugby Football League) and UKA (UK Athletics). All of the results will be announced at the Sport Industry Awards ceremony on May 2.