Eat and Be Merry. Grand Tour Dining, Part 1

There’s no hiding the fact that I like food. That’s a grotesque understatement, actually; correction: I love food. Take a gander through the archives and dozens of entries feature delicious comestibles at the crux of the blog entry. It’s therefore no wonder that I’ve received quite a few questions over the course of this past week of Giro racing that go something like this, “Hey Ted, what sort of food gets you through a grand tour?”

Allow me the pleasure of walking you through a typical day here in Italy highlighting the meals. As usual, I’m scrawling this entry on my Blackberry, so this will be a three part installment beginning with the most important meal of the day, breakfast.

Sleep is instrumental to optimal recovery day after day, so we remain aslumber and therefore horizontal as long as possible until moseying down to breakfast. Standard procedure here in Italy is to have breakfast three hours prior to race start, so it’s easy to calculate when the breakfast table fills up.

Our loyal soigneurs will have set out the breakfast spread on the table designated for riders that includes cereals such as muslei, amazing chocolate granola that I’ve discussed at least once (none of this Cocoa Krispies junk), corn flakes, and others. There’s milk of seemingly every variety, including rice milk, almond milk, lactose free milk, and even cow milk. Yogurt is available too. (Of note is that Europe lacks vanilla yogurt, which across the board is the best and most consistent flavor in America. Fact.)

There are breads and croissants as well as low-gluten options such as rice cakes or uber-hearty barley “loaves” that have the dense consistency of American canned brown bread – which is equally as heavenly. There are also a box or two European “Digestive Crackers” which is a complete farce – read: they are cookies! All of these options accompany the three or four jams and jellies, honey, cream cheese, and Nutella… or vice versa to what is accompanying what depending how much you enjoy your condiments.

Willy, our gregarious and lively Swiss chef, who has dozens of grand tours to his name, prepares omelets to order with lightening speed; these are nearly always ham and cheese, just cheese, or plain. He also has rice, pasta, and a great vat of oatmeal – or “porridge” – that is always perfect and never that horrendously dried out wall-paper plaster that Holiday Inn Express boasts among their heart healthy options.

All said and done, we’re on the road non-stop for nearly four weeks, which is a looong time to be away from your favorite breakie items. Therefore riders often bring their personal breakie fave’s too. For me, peanut butter (namely Peanut Butter & Co. It’s no coincidence as they make a delicious line of products and sponsor of women’s pro cycling!) and New Hampshire’s finest maple syrup. Maple syrup remains a very foreign flavor to Europeans, who typically dislike it with as much zeal as I have love for it. Others bring along nuts, dried fruit, and the like.

Coffee. Obvious. I have a French press, or awesome press as I have dubbed it, courtesy of my dear brother Robbie for a birthday present back in ’09. She’s a loyal press as this is grand tour number two. I sip away while my Euro teammates look on in disgust that I’m drinking more than a one-quarter ounce espresso. Italian coffee is as scrumptious and hearty as it is tiny. It’s been rumored one can drink it with a fork.

The above is a quick photo I snapped as I departed the breakfast table.


  1. Roddy Pattison

    Have you tried Dorset Cereals Chocolate (or Chocolate and Macademia) granola? I have a box with your name on it at home but it’s the last one in the cupboard and it’s difficult to get hold of…

  2. McDreamyBiker

    I love food too. I have a favorite breakfast muffin that I like to make when I will be needing a little extra to get through the day. They are chocolate, peanut butter, banana muffins. Delicious and energy giving. I think I will pack some for this year’s Dempsey Challenge so I can eat some before the 100 mile trek. Last year I was sick and skipped breakfast that morning, which was an epically BAD idea.

  3. Jen

    Have you had a chance to try the new Chocolate Cheerios? It’s not bad, especially if you load the bowl with strawberries (how about rawberry? Made with lightning, real lightning!) and bananas.

  4. Hungry

    Ted! Awesome entry good sir. Always interest me what is being served at the dining tables of a pro cycling team at a grand tour.

    Do any team managers regulate how much riders are allowed to eat or do riders know themselves well enough to self-regulate their caloric intake at breakfast?

    Also, the canned bread is a straight New England reference so for those not in the Northeast do some research as I don’t believe that phenomenon stretches throughout the USA.

  5. Northwest Socks & Sandal Guy

    Ted, you need a great breakfast after watching y’all race on USA TV in that soaking rain all day today! Great views from the Italian chopper, with the earthquake ruins.

    Congrats. on your effort and finish, today, looked like a miserable day to ride!
    Georgia Grits…you likely don’t see on your menu!
    All the best!

  6. Cody

    Ted- So I was telling my wife about your posts about food (cause I love food too) and she asked how the signours get the food ready? Where do they prepare it? Where do they store it? Do they get a place at the hotel? With all of your transfers, they must be incredibly organized and busy!

    I told her that’s probably what they’re doing while you guys are racing: buying and preparing food.

    I’m a few days behind on watching the Giro on UniversalSports. I’m excited to see how it continues on. Good luck and ride safe out there.


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