Inside a WorldTour team’s recovery on grand tour rest days.

By Larry Warbasse, Decathlon–AG2R La Mondiale Team


Larry Warbasse just wrapped a successful 2024 Giro d’Italia campaign with his Decathlon–AG2R La Mondiale squad. The boys in brown shorts – err, in blue jerseys – err, wait, in blue and green galaxy kits secured the team classification, and Ben O’Connor outrode a late-race case of the illness that ran through the peloton to finish fourth in the GC.

In this blogpost, Larry invites us to Livigno for the team’s second recovery day, which was at 6,000 feet in the Italian Alps. In a previous blog installment, Larry also discussed training at altitude, but recovering on a rest day at altitude is the exact opposite. Everything that makes high-altitude training beneficial makes high-altitude recovery less beneficial – though supplementing recovery with gelato apparently helps.


Rest days are always something I enjoy: a day to recover, to spend time doing things you are a bit too tired to do on big training or racing days. During a training block, they are welcome as they help you regain energy to take on the next day’s efforts. In a Grand Tour, they are infinitely more important – and even more appreciated! Every Grand Tour has two rest days, although occasionally three if there is a start in a foreign country that requires a long transfer. 

I’m currently in the mountain town of Livigno on the second rest day at the Giro d’Italia, which I’m racing for the 6th time. While slightly lesser known than the Tour de France, in terms of terrain, it is no less difficult! 


Livigno is in a beautiful region in the Italian Alps near the Swiss border, but the beauty of the landscape has a toll. That all-important recovery becomes slightly more challenging due to the higher altitude of the town, which is about 6,000 feet above sea level.

The location is out of our control considering it is the race who decides where we sleep and it is forbidden to change hotels, even if it were to go to a lower altitude to better recover. The good thing is it is the same for everyone, so we are all in the same boat. On top of that, Livigno is a really cool town full of endurance athletes – a common altitude training location in Europe.


So what do we do on our rest days? Essentially not a whole lot, as you might imagine! We try to spend as much time with our feet up and enjoying the rest that we aren’t getting on every other day of the Giro. Even when we’re not actively racing, most days during the race fill our downtime with long transfers in the bus, maybe an hour or so on each side of the stage, which is just piled on to the race itself. It’s an itinerate lifestyle, so getting to spend two nights in the same hotel is a welcome reprieve to packing our suitcases on the daily. 

We start the day by sleeping in as long as we possibly can, but considering we have been on a pretty regimented schedule, I don’t sleep in much past 8:30. Then it’s heading down to breakfast where our team chef is waiting, so I make my normal oatmeal, plus some fried eggs. After that it’s back to the room to relax a bit before an easy spin. 

During the ride, it’s up to each individual rider what they would like to do in terms of intensity, there are quite a few different ideas on how to tackle it, some guys think they need to do a few intervals to keep their legs “open,” while others are happy just to have a bit of recovery. I like to ride an endurance pace, but not do too much other than that! I believe the recovery is important, but even more than that, the most important is doing whatever you think you need – for your head even more than your legs.


For today, we did a small climb where everyone went their own speed before reconvening at the bottom for a coffee stop – including a nice gelato. The rest-day gelato is unquantifiable recovery, and it’s a tradition I have partaken in pretty much since my first Grand Tour.

Upon returning to the hotel, it’s lunch, then a massage, as well as any media interviews that are requested. In the time in between, it’s calling home, family, and generally doing anything we don’t have the time to do while we are running around every other day! From there it’s dinner and an early bedtime to get ready for the following day. 


It’s nothing too exciting on a rest day but they are some of the most important days of the race. Some guys are afraid of them as they think their body “shuts down” without doing hours and hours of cycling, but personally I believe it’s all about finishing the day as physically and mentally rested and fresh as possible. As long as that is achieved, the form will follow!

I hope you enjoyed this insight, and I look forward to taking you along for the next ride!


May 28, 2024 — First Endurance

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

Join The Conversation

Did you find this post interesting and valuable or was it a waste of your time? Do you have a topic you’d like us to cover or a question you’d like answered? If so, leave a comment below and we'll get back to you right away.

    1 out of ...