If you don't already know are multi-day races compiled into one event. For most road races, these can range anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, and for mountain bike races anywhere from 3 days to 10 days.
I am gearing up for a few upcoming stage races (both road and mountain) beginning this weekend in Baker City, OR with the Elkhorn Classic SR. This is a race favorite among most Oregon riders, with 4 stages over 3 days. It's a little less popular than the Mt Hood Classic or the Cascade Cycling Classic, but still offers the Pro to Recreational rider a solid challenge.
I will be using the Elkhorn Classic SR and the also upcoming Cascade Cycling Classic SR in late July as tune-ups for the Trans Rockies TR3 event in August. There is nothing like simulating a stage race like racing in a stage race. However, it is easy to over train the body by doing too many stage races, so you have to be careful not to overdo it. Three stage races spaced over 3 months (June-Aug) is perfect considering the lengths and number of stages per event. Then in either September or October I will be competing in another mountain bike stage race, however, this one is yet to be determined.
I'm still amazed by how the riders in the Tour de France or Giro d' Italia can maintain such high speeds throughout a 3 week stage race over incredibly difficult terrain. The key to staying competitive is making sure to consume enough calories to maintain the energy levels needed to compete at that level day in and day out. Going into a stage race, your goal should not be to lose weight (as that will happen on it's own) but rather maintain your current weight. You can very easily lose 10 lbs during a stage race and that could be a loss of muscle rather than fat.
It's going to be a great couple of months looking ahead. With summer and the Tour just around the corner, what else could you be asking for. Get out and enjoy!