How to stay hydrated when training for Haute Route Stelvio


Staying hydrated is going to be crucial if you want to perform at your best during Haute Route Stelvio.

At Precision Hydration we help a long list of elite athletes and teams (including a number of World Tour riders and teams such as Team Sunweb) get hydration right and, as Haute Route’s Official Hydration Partner, it’s our job to help you nail your hydration strategy before you roll out at the Grand Départ on September 20th.

Your Rider’s Pack will include a free tube of PH 1500, an extra strong electrolyte drink that’ll help you start each stage properly hydrated and aid your recovery afterwards. You’ll then be able to fill your bottle up with PH 500 (a low-calorie, hypotonic electrolyte drink designed for optimal absorption) or water at the feed stations on the course.

We’ll be sending you a full hydration briefing closer to the event but, for now, here’s some advice to help you refine your hydration strategy in your final months of training.

Taking some time to get this right will not only mean you’ll be less likely to have hydration-related issues when you’re out en route to the finish at Passo dello Stelvio, but staying hydrated should also mean you’ll perform better in training which’ll pay dividends in September!

Starting training hydrated (and why that’s so important)

When people talk about hydration, most of the time it’s about what and how much athletes should drink during exercise.

These are clearly important questions, but your performance is also massively influenced by how hydrated you are when you start riding in the first place.

Starting fully hydrated gives you a much bigger reserve of fluids and electrolytes to draw upon once you start sweating.

It has other benefits too. Optimal hydration maximises your blood volume and this helps general cardiovascular function and your ability to dissipate the heat produced by your working muscles. This reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer. Learn more.

Despite the relatively obvious benefits of starting rides well hydrated, a recent study of over 400 athletes showed that around 31% of them were turning up to training sessions dehydrated!

For most short/steady training rides, just topping up with a bit of extra water in the hours before you start is all you need to do.

But, drinking a strong electrolyte drink before longer, hotter and sweatier rides (including those intense, sweaty turbo sessions) can significantly improve your performance. And it may even help you avoid cramping up late on in the ride, or in the hours after you finish, if that’s something you’re prone to.

That’s why you’ll be issued with a tube of our strongest electrolyte supplement, PH 1500, in your Rider Pack. At a concentration of 1,500mg of sodium per litre, it’s around 2-3x stronger than typical sports drinks. That extra sodium helps you absorb and retain more fluid, which boosts your blood plasma volume and reduces cardiovascular strain.

We call this ‘preloading’ and here’s what Team Sunweb rider Jan Bakelants - who won a stage of the Tour De France and held the Yellow Jersey back in 2013 - said about the protocol; “Pre-hydrating properly with the 1500mg/l strength supplements was the most powerful take home message for me during my Sweat Test…”.

If you want to test whether it improves your performance, follow this protocol before your next long ride…

Drink a 500ml (16oz) bottle of a stronger electrolyte drink like PH 1500 the evening before your ride

Drink another 500ml (16oz) bottle of a stronger electrolyte drink like PH 1500 about 90 minutes before you set off. Finish your drink at least 45 minutes before you start to give your body time to fully absorb what it needs and pee out any excess.

Drink the electrolyte supplement in water you’d have drank anyway to ensure you don’t overdo it.