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Triple Alt Tour with Erik Horsthemke

We interviewed Erik Horsthemke about his Triple Alt Tour to find out what it's like to do a solo race of that scale, how he trains, and what's next on his journey.


For those who aren't familiar, can you explain what the Triple Alt Tour involves?

The three biggest cycling races in this world are the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. The Triple Alt Tour is about retracing the route of the entire races. However, with the decisive difference that I also ride the transfer route, [the distance from the finish of one stage to the start of the next] which the professionals cover by car or plane. All without outside support. No team vehicles, no doctors, no masseurs, etc. In total, a distance of over 22,000 km and 240,000 meters of altitude.


How did you prepare yourself?

In the meantime, the training workload has increased quite a bit. It can even be 45 hours a week. I train mainly long basic units and rather rarely my coach (also Erik) prescribes interval units. But physical hardening is also part of it. I sleep in a tent in sub-zero temperatures and train outside for six hours in sleet. Physically, I had to put on a little weight to avoid losing muscle over the entire period and to avoid food cravings. Compared to last year, I currently weigh about four kilograms more.


What kind of diet will you follow?

A lot helps a lot. Anything that fits in the stomach will be eaten. The calorie range is 8,000-10,000kcal per day. Every supermarket, gas station, restaurant will be utilized. My favorite thing to eat is a lot of ice cream. Of course, it's the best thing on hot days!


Legs shaved or not?
Usually shaved. But I did not have time to shave my legs during the Grand Tours.


Average speed?
It depends on the profile of the track and especially on the wind. Sometimes it can be only 24 km/h. On other days it can be 28, 29 or 30 km/h.


What did you enjoy most about the tours?
The country, the people, the atmosphere, seeing something of the world and experiencing the spirit of the great Grand Tours.


What component of the Triple Alt Tour could you do without?
Being alone all the time. Not talking to anyone you know....



How many kilometers and months were you on the road so far for the Triple Alt Tour part one in 2022?

 As a rule, about a month was planned for each Grand Tour, which worked out quite well until the Vuelta. Unfortunately, the Vuelta a España went a little differently than planned. For whatever reason, last year's Tour of Spain started in the Netherlands (and also included a complete crossing of the Iberian Peninsula from north to south between the ninth and tenth stages). So instead of going to the sunny south, I first had to go to rainy Utrecht and then, according to the plan, via Belgium and France to the Basque country. The bottom line was that I would have to cover about 7,400 kilometers and 83,000 meters of altitude. Vuelta winner Remco Evenepoel & Co. had to complete exactly 3,281 kilometers on the official route. With two days ahead of the pros, I started the race on August 17.  After all, my goal was to be as fast as possible.

After the Tour de France, I had switched to a different frame in order to have more mounting options for bottles on the frame. Unfortunately, however, I set my saddle a few millimeters too high. This led to extreme knee problems on the right side on the very first day of the Vuelta. I had been riding in the old position for such a long time that my body didn't seem to be able to cope well with the change. Certainly the leg had been irritated before. The adjusted seat height finally broke the camel's back. The outer tendon of my right knee (tractus iliotibialis) had become so inflamed in a very short time that any kicking with the right leg was almost impossible. I was forced to take a break and it took several months to recover, which is why I set my goal on pause and am about to resume now.


What are your cycling plans for 2023?

First and foremost, I want to finish my Triple Alt Tour project with the final leg: the Vuelta a España. I'm planning on starting in April. 

Together with the organization VivaConAgua, which is committed to the construction of wells and the associated access to clean drinking water, increasingly in the African area, I have planned a large project. In late summer of this year I will travel from North Africa to Uganda. The goal is to collect as many donations as possible on the way to Uganda and then to build a well in Uganda together with VivaConAgua. It is important to me that my projects are not just any sports projects. I want to use my reach to draw attention to problems and to change things and to show and get to know other cultures and countries. I think that this can be reflected in a project like this. Also in this project I will be on the road all the way, alone and without support. 

On Iceland there is the road Route1 which leads once around the complete island. In the middle of this year I would like to cycle around the entire island. This project will be a classic bikepacking project.


Follow along on Erik's journey on Instagram @erik_horsthemke.