It's always a huge buzz for us when we discover a pro athlete at the top of their sport has done their research, found out what we do here at Precision Hydration and bought into it.
Jan Bakelants won the Yellow Jersey during the 2013 Tour de France, then held it for two stages. He's also won the Tour de l'Avenir. He's racing for French team AG2R La Mondiale these days and we caught up with him recently to get a bit of insight into life on the pro tour circuit and to find out why he sought us out and what impact his new hydration strategy has had on his performance and his confidence...
Jan, can you tell us a bit about how you got into cycling?
I wasn't born into a family with a major cycling background. My mum and dad liked the sport but neither of them ever competed in a race. After trying some other sports, all with little success and with none of them ever really interesting me, my dad pushed me to take part in a cycling holiday for kids. With this I was introduced to the sport and from the start I liked being outside and on my bike.
I continued riding for some years and at the age of 14 I participated in my first race. I performed well and this encouraged me to take the next step to a full competition season the year after. And I’ve not looked back since!
How do pro riders prepare in the lead up to a major event?
The major training is mainly done during the winter, before the event we try to finalise our shape. For a one day race this would normally be via a stage race to pick up the race rhythm.
After the stage race we taper for a week and then we hope to be ready for it. If a stage race is the goal we mostly have a good block of training in the one or two weeks before the event, before we decrease the amount of training in the final week.
What was it like to experience those days in yellow during the Tour de France?
Those days will always remain good memories. The fact that this tour stage victory was my first professional victory and that it came in a difficult season up to then (I had a persisting problem with my knee in the spring) just made it extra special.
I had to wait a long time before I won, but it was certainly worth the wait! It is only afterwards that you realise the importance of this victory. Even now this is what most people remember me for as a cyclist.
How do you balance being a new dad with being a pro cyclist?
It’s difficult to say as Julia was born during the Tour this year, so I’ve not been a dad for that long! I can imagine that in time being away from home for longer periods will be hard. Finding the right balance will be key, but so far I still need to discover this balance. I guess some trial and error will point me in the right direction over time!
That's Jan and Julia with Andy in London recently.
Julia seems to like the new PH trucker hat!
What do you eat and drink during a 3 week stage race like the Tour de France?
During the actual stages themselves we eat bars, gels, bananas and some rice cakes made by the staff. We also drink lots of sugary drinks, which surprises some people.
How have you been using Precision Hydration and how has it helped you?
Over the last two years I suffered a lot in the heat during the Tour. I have a high sweat rate, I was losing a lot of electrolytes and this was becoming detrimental to my performance and overall fitness.
After the Tour I was looking for solutions to this and I found out about Precision Hydration when I visited the Energy Lab Performance Centre in Belgium. I used them in the 2016 Vuelta and had a much better feeling in the heat. The Vuelta was a success even if I didn't get the result I wanted, I was happy with my performance and the way I performed in even hotter conditions than the Tour de France.
Recently Andy Sweat Tested me when I was in London and this confirmed my feeling, my sweat doesn’t contain a great deal of sodium, but due to my high sweat rate I loose quite a lot of sodium over a race. Pre-hydrating properly with the 1500mg/l strength was the most powerful take home message for me.
What are you aiming for in 2017?
I will start my 2017 season early in Australia. It will be hot but a good result over there would certainly give me a boost going into the rest of the season. I’ll be counting on Precision Hydration to make sure that the Australian heat won't be an issue…
Thanks Jan, we've got your back!
We're looking forward to working with Jan to get a more accurate understanding of his sweat output in 2017...