A recipe for success: Team Sky’s cycling nutrition

Rice cake

Recently, I took part in the Ride London sportive. It was a 100 mile bike ride that took me 6 hours and 45 minutes to complete, it took Boris Johnson a lot longer. Maintaining a good effort for that long required good nutrition. Keeping your supplies of muscle glycogen and blood sugar levels topped up will help protect your muscle tissue from damage and aid in recovery. 

Team Sky’s head of cycling nutrition, Nigel Mitchell recommends you start taking approximately 60g of carbohydrate every hour 30 minutes from the start of a sportive.

I picked-up the team’s recipe for their performance boosting rice cakes at the their stand at the Ride London exhibition. They are easy to make and an excellent addition to your jersey pockets.

Rice cake ingredients

  • 500g risotto rice
  • 1ltr water
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
  • 300g low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or agave nectar
  • Jam (optional)
  • Coconut oil (optional)

Cooking instructions

  1. Cover the rice with the water, add the cinnamon and the sugar then cook
  2. Once the rice has cooked mix in the cream cheese and honey or agave nectar while the rice is still warm. You can add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil at this stage if you like.
  3. Spoon the mixture onto a flat tray lined with cling film and spread out to a thickness of 2cm. If you’re using jam then spread the mixture to 1cm, add a layer of jam, then another 1cm layer of rice
  4. Cover with cling film and compress. Let it cool before placing it into your refrigerator overnight. Cut into 2cm squares and to enjoy on your ride

If you try these out then let us know how you got on in the comments below or if you have any magical energy boosting snacks of your own then be sure to share!

For the 100 mile cycle I ate banana sandwiches on Soreen malt loaf with some honey and raw super-seed spread. They were sweet, gooey and provided a much needed morale boost every 20 miles.


35 Responses to “A recipe for success: Team Sky’s cycling nutrition”

  1. Travis says:

    I worked with Team Sky last year during the Tour of Beijing, and they were using these then. I forgot to make a note of them then, so I’m happy about finding the recipe here.
    They are lovely, and are just the thing I want for my long runs.

  2. Andy says:

    Hey Travis, thanks for your comment. Glad we could be of assistance. How were you helping the team?

    I reckon you could run pretty far on a batch of these!

  3. Richard Poynter says:

    Love the taste but ive had 2 attempts following the recipe exactly and the rice cakes dont set and are a little sloppy. I.E they couldt be carried .

    Any thoughts?

  4. Adam capp says:

    Just made a batch of this but did half the ingredients so there wasn’t so much, I followed the recipe to the letter although I did have to add more water to make sure the rice was cooked, it has been in the fridge for 16 hours and still hasn’t set, so as the previous comment has said it wouldnt be good to take out on a ride. Has anyone any suggestions to why this wudnt set? Thanks

    • Andy says:

      Hi Adam, As with Richard above, I suspect that the coconut oil is not so optional and would help it set once chilled, did you add that to your recipe? I also use Quark or Philadelphia cream cheese which helps it set.

  5. Adam capp says:

    I did not use any coconut oil and used low fat Philly cheese, Still no setting, Was tasty as a rice pudding lol but not the final result I was after

  6. Adam capp says:

    Will try the cocunut oil next time as see what happens

  7. Michelle says:

    I tried this using the stated amount of water and rice but could not get it to set. I tried again this morning on a much smaller scale with this method of cooking the rice with 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 2 of sugar. Bring 1 cup of rice and 1 and a half cups of water to the boil, uncovered. When boiling, stir , cover and turn down the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and leave it to do its thing simmering away for 12 minutes. Reisiting tempatation to take a peek leave the lid on and take the pot off the heat and leave for another 12 minutes. Then add 2 tsp coconut oil. 2 tspn honey and about 2 tablespoons of lite Philly cream cheese. Also added some chopped dates. This worked and made about 12 bars.
    Failing that the team saxobank chef has a video on u tube on how to make rice cakes but she is cooking for 8 riders which is a lot and the rice cooking method looks a bit hit and miss to me.

  8. andy says:

    Hello everyone, thanks for the updates and modifications to this recipe.

    I cooked up a batch last week using exactly half the amount of everything. I boiled the rice until no water remained and left it for 10 minutes or so to let it cool and absorb any remaining water.

    I used medium fat cream cheese instead of philly and I added coconut oil. After 12 hours in the fridge I had a fairly stable offering that I was able to slice into chunks. I didn’t take them on a ride, however, and I suspect that they may have end-up being a bit mushy once the heat got to them.

    The next step in this experiment is to add a bit more sugar to see if that will firm them up while preventing them turning to warm mush in my lycra.

  9. Bill says:

    I swapped the rice for sushi rice and they set well enough to carry.

  10. Griff says:

    Evening, thanks for posting the recipe Andy very interesting. I am going to try this tomorrow night, I will let you know how I get on. Riding a sportive in June and I really need to get my fuel intake sorted. I might try the sushi rice as Bill suggests

    • andy says:

      Hi Griff, Glad you found it useful, please let us know how you got on. If you get a decent photo of your rice cake please send it in and we’ll use it.

  11. Sebastian says:

    I have not tried these ones yet, but like Bill said, swapping the rice to sushi rice propably fixes the problem. We have been making a snack bars sort like this for years for long hiking/skiing days with porridge rice which is quite similar to sushi rice with out a problem even if you add a juice consentrate to flavor.

  12. Matt Browne says:

    You need to constantly stir the aborio rice to ensure that you release the starch which makes it sticky and ultimately set. Rather than adding all the water at one make it like a risotto adding the water a bit at a time until it’s absorbed then add some more till its cooked. You need to stir it constantly.

  13. darrel says:

    seems quite straight forward…how about just cooking the risotto then folding in the binders (cr. cheese, honey etc) to the desired consistency and sweetness. it will be fairly set before the fridge so mix ingredients in accordingly. maybe drain the risotto in a mesh sieve to get the extra cooking liquid out before adding binders. i would imagine you could do that with your already made “wet” cakes and leave them overnight to drain then try it again. should be fine then. good luck

  14. Lisa Macdonald says:

    I am in no way an expert, however cooking is my passion, and I’m wondering if some of the problem with them not setting is the down to the use of lite cream cheese. When baking you never use lite cream cheese in frosting, as the lower ratio of fat means that it cannot hold it’s shape and makes for runny frosting. I’m guessing something similar may be going on here- you may find adding coconut oil helps (thus upping your fat %), but it may well be worth trying it with both full fat cheese and the oil if you’re struggling for a set. Hope that makes sense!

  15. Jon says:

    This made a delicious rice pudding, but it’s going nowhere near my jersey pockets!

  16. Dale Lawson says:

    I used the following for a perfect rice cake.

    1 Cup risotto rice
    1 1/2 cups of water
    1 tablespoon of cinnamon
    1 tablespoon of raw sugar
    250g low-fat cream cheese
    1 Tablespoon of Coconut oil
    Dried Apple Pieces

    Once rice is cooked, combine with rest of ingredients.
    Straight into cling wrap lined baking tray to cool down, before going into the fridge.

    Leave overnight to set.

    This video was a big help.

  17. mojodale says:

    If it looks like pudding then you’ve got too much liquid. The following worked perfectly for me

    1 Cup risotto rice
    1.5 Cups water
    1 tablespoon of cinnamon
    1 tablespoon of raw sugar
    250g low-fat cream cheese
    1 tablespoon Coconut oil


  18. donzarg says:

    Could these be made without cheese ? I can’t eat dairy

  19. Roisin says:

    How long do these keep for after you make them?

  20. Roisin says:

    How long do these keep for after you make them?

    • Andy says:

      Hi Roisin, they don’t last long because they taste good! They wouldn’t keep too long either because bacteria loves cooked rice. 3 days in the fridge should be ok. Any longer than that and get rid.



  21. Leonardo ARGENTINA says:

    Hola: estoy muy adradecido de ahber encontrado la receta!!! esta semana voy a intentar hacerla!!! y les contare como me fue, salu2

  22. CeeBee says:

    I have made a savoury variation – normal white rice ( stir a little while cooking to release starch to help bind), scrambled egg, and either chopped bacon or smoked haddock,good splash of soy sauce and a little brown sugar.
    Cook all ingredients and combine.
    Compressing it when its spread in a tray is essential.
    Looking forward to trying a sweet variation.

  23. Rideabout says:

    Hi guys,

    Thanks a lot for this recipe: I’ve tried the original one (scaled down for 100 grams of rice) and it worked very well. Unfortunately, on my ride days I’ve forgotten them in the fridge!! I’ll try this again as tomorrow I’ll have another riding day.

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