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Improve your Indoor Cycling Skills Watching the Giro d'Italia

Improve your Indoor Cycling Skills Watching the Giro d'Italia

by: Dru Ryan
Friday, May 31, 2019 - 8:30am

The 2015 Giro d'Italia peloton climbs out of Como, headed for Switzerland. (Photo credit D. Bennett)

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“Forza! Forza!” the crowd cajoles as the road snakes upward with respite a certainty but not quite visible. “Quads, hammies, calves. Quads hammies, calves.” You repeat. Imploring your legs to reach the summit. There’s no choice but to keep pedalling.

All of this and you have not stepped outside!


Jered Gruber -- Instagram --

Watching professional cycling profoundly expands one’s view of cycling effort and suffering.

Indoor cycling instructors who ride outdoors find inspiration from their outdoor heroes. While 45 minute classes are grueling, the grand tours of cycling bring new meaning to the word.

Entering its final week, the Giro d'Italia is a three week, 2,000 mile trek with riders climbing nearly thirty miles--yes, miles. Many consider winning the Giro a more difficult feat than the more popular Tour de France.

Next time you’re in spin class, try a few of these techniques to bring the race experience indoors:

  1. Fight for the leader’s jersey: The Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) is worn by the rider with the lowest total time. Among the 176 riders in the race, there are only 21 chances to wear the leader’s jersey. Other jerseys indicate best sprinter, climber and the one we all pine for–best young rider (under 25).


Image Source:


  1. Use imagery to propel your performance: Olympic athletes employ imagery to hone their ability to cope with the rigors of competition. Train like an Olympian and allow yourself to see the idyllic seaside towns, lush vineyards, Roman architecture, and snow capped peaks. Cadence is your friend as you glide upward.
    Among Washington, D.C. studios, the Pursuit by Equinox and OffRoad’s SufferFest (named one of the toughest workouts in DC by the Washington Post) combine real time metrics and data visualization with structured profiles for an inspired ride.

View of Bellagio from Il Perlo (D. Bennett)


  1. Embrace the changing conditions: From smooth tarmac to chipseal to the occasional gravel and cobblestone road, cyclists deal with a myriad of pavements. Don’t play upper-body freeze tag while riding. Use resistance to simulate different on the bike.

  2. Emulate climbing form: Whether in or out of saddle, cyclists favor efficiency over brute force - smooth cadence reigns. Eschewing short bursts of watts for sustained effort, the elite climbers maintain their breath, not lose it.

    Alberto Contador in the maglia rosa (pink jersey). (Photo credit D. Bennett)

  3. Appreciate the time trials: Dubbed ‘the race of truth,’ time trials put rider versus the road, no teammates, no drafting. The 2019 Giro contains three time trials, ranging from 5 to 20 miles. Below are one rider’s Strava stats for the 20 mile time trial.

  1. The Giro features a fiercely competitive women’s race: The Giro d'Italia Femminile, better known as the Gira Rosa, is the corresponding women’s edition of the men’s grand tour. Women’s cycling, dominated by the Netherlands, is prone to more attacks leading to a lively overall race. Held in July, the Gira is the longest women’s stage race.


Giro coverage is available on or highlights on the Giro official website.

About the Author

Dru Ryan is a daily bike commuter, indoor cycling coach (EquinoxCrunch, Mint DC) and road cyclist who averages 200 miles a week. Follow Dru on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook or visit his website