"I’ve learned to pee in the saddle"

Tour de France cyclists reveal secrets of the race - including the truth about toilet breaks...

17 July 2014

WHAT do Tour de France cyclists do when they need a toilet break? Do they enjoy the scenery when they're racing? What do they eat on rest days?

The Belkin team’s Lars Boom and Maarten Wynants answered these and other big questions in a light-hearted interview with Le Monde.

They revealed that, while many racers simply stop to relieve themselves at the side of the road, some have learned how to pee in the saddle.

But, even getting out of the saddle for a rest stop is not as straightforward as it sounds.

Finding somewhere appropriate can be a problem, they revealed, especially with so many TV cameras covering the race these days. Wynants said that cyclists can be fined if they urinate in view of spectators.

On a hot day like yesterday, when riders drank about five litres of water to prevent dehydration, bladder control can be more difficult.

And it is considered poor form to overtake the leader if he’s taking a toilet break, they revealed.

At least they do not have to worry about the state of their underwear. Competitive cyclists, they said, do not wear underpants because they become uncomfortable and can chafe during a stage.

Despite long days in the saddle, travelling through some of France’s most beautiful countryside, Wynants admitted he has little time for enjoying the scenery.

He said he took in the sights of London during a review of the race on television afterwards.

Riders don’t have the chance to enjoy the gastronomic delights of the places they visit during the race - even on rest days they stick to a strict sports diet of fish, meat and pasta or rice that is specially prepared for them.

Boom said: “During the race, I also take cereal bars, small sandwiches and bananas ... I eat a lot actually.”

And Wynants said: “After the Tour, I’ll stop eating rice and pasta.”

Tour de France riders are a legendarily tough breed - but they shy away from waxing their legs to keep them free of hairs.

Wynants admitted: “I waxed once - I cried like a baby. I vowed never again. A razor is good.”

Boom explained that riders shave primarily to prevent infections if they fall off the bike. He also said that he once used an epilator, but, like his colleague, he sticks to a razor.

Photo: Robin Ellis

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