it's the golden jersey the cyclists chase here, and the world's top riders and their teams do so through much of spain's most brilliant countryside - from the flats of southern spain's coast to the lung-bursting and near poetic - the climb of the navacerrada - mountain ascents. september 6-28, 2003; www.lavuelta.com

not only for the pros


anyone who is healthy can get in good cycling shape fairly quickly, according to chris carmichael, coach of tour de france champ lance armstrong.

courtesy of carmichael, what follows is a seven-week training program that will bring the beginning cyclist up to sound snuff, whether your aim is a casual 20-miler with friends, or a hilly, mettle-testing 40. (for more detailed training tips, go to www.ridefast.com.)

how much training will it take to beat lance?

"i wouldn't quit my day job," says carmichael.

training zone key
zone 1: 60-65 percent of maximum heart rate (mhr) - easy riding
zone 2: 65-70 percent mhr - endurance base training
zone 3: 70-80 percent mhr - hones aerobic capacity
(to figure your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.)

week 1
monday: 30 minutes in zone 1 on flat terrain. pedal steadily but easily in a light gear at 80-85 revolutions per minute (rpm).
tuesday: 45 minutes in zone 2, with 5 minutes of fast pedaling (108-120 rpm) on flat terrain.
wednesday: 60 minutes in zone 2 on flat terrain. spin easily at 80-85 rpm.
thursday: 45 minutes in zone 2, with 5 minutes of fast pedaling on flat terrain.
friday: off
saturday: 1 hour in zone 2, with 10 minutes of fast pedaling on flat terrain.
sunday: 90 minutes in zone 2 on hilly terrain (try to stay seated while climbing).

week 2
monday: 30 minutes in zone 1, with 10 minutes of fast pedaling on flat terrain.
tuesday: 45 minutes in zone 2, with 5 minutes of fast pedaling on flat terrain.
wednesday: 1 hour in zone 2 on flat terrain at 80-85 rpm.