How to execute a race-winning move using a power meter

Posted by Verve on April 15, 2015 in
InfoCrank data analysis

The following article explains how the use of an accurate and reliable power meter can assist in executing a race-winning move. By training and racing with InfoCrank the Navitas-Satalyst Racing Team was able to formulate a tactical and scientific race plan for the recent Midlands 100. Team manager Wayne Evans was confident one of his riders could win the race – if the plan was executed at exactly the right time. Wayne shares his thoughts below on how the race was approached.

The plan was to have Ben O’Connor attack with two of his teammates in tow. They were to go at the moment the flagged dropped. The intention was to force Travis Meyer and Graeme Brown (Drapac Pro Cycling) to chase rather than his squad be on the receiving end from two former WorldTour riders. The team lined up with five riders and I believed they needed to be proactive and aggressive in order to control how the race would unfold. Here are a few of the notes and instructions I gave the guys prior to the race.  

“The biggest hurdle is the Drapac duo of Travis and Graeme.

Graeme will beat everyone in a sprint finish so he doesn’t need to break away to win. Travis will want to smash you all and win solo, most likely.

Ben, Jono (Bolton) and Henry (Pennell) should attack from the start as hard as possible. Be prepared to swap off for the entire 100km! If anyone comes with you make them work but don’t lose focus on staying away from Travis or Graeme. Aaron (Slavik), Tim (Seller) and Jackson (Mawby) to cover Travis and Graeme.

I believe Travis will go first so that Graeme can come across later and blast everyone off his wheel. Go with Travis first and make him work to get across.

Presuming this goes to plan we will have to save something for the final so we can wear them down or force them into a tactical battle which we will win with numbers.”

The race would unfold nearly exactly how we predicted with the Henry and Jono getting away from the start. They were soon joined by the Drapac duo before Ben countered. With only 10km covered Ben was given plenty of freedom as the bunch eased. Head down, Ben plowed away and steadily increased his lead.

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Photo courtesy of Steve Lloyd & Midlands Cycle Club

Photo courtesy of Steve Lloyd & Midlands Cycle Club

Travis and Graeme set a furious chase behind but Ben would continue to extend his gap. After the first lap of two Ben’s gap was one minute and growing. The pack was scrambling to bring him back but the gap kept going out. At the final turnaround Jackson got in a move with Jono which caused the field to explode.

Going into the final 10km there was a small group of four behind Ben. His lead was now over four minutes and the race was all but his. On the last climb Jono got away with Graeme and despite his best attempts he couldn’t shake the two-time Olympic gold medallist. Ben would win the race after a stunning 90km solo break with Jono in third. Ben’s average wattage was an equally world-class 343 watts for the entire 98km.

Here are some useful numbers to see how Ben did the ride that I knew he was capable of. Knowing your power data and what you are capable of is the best way to understanding how to race to win with your strengths.

TSS 243
Work  3352 Kj
Normalised power  372 watts
Average Power  343 watts
Watts per kg 5
Balance  50.7/ 49.3
Elevation Gain  2,104 metres
Distance 98.6km
Weight 68.5kg

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You can see Ben’s TrainingPeaks file here: Midlands 100, 12 April 2015

So, what are my final deductions from the above information?

· I knew Ben could ride for a long period at or near FTP (estimated to be between 370 and 380 watts ) and that all the other competitors would not be able to match him.

· In the end he averaged 343 watts taking into account the time he spent not pedaling and 372 watts for the times he did pedal. This showed he was working within himself for most of the ride given that he would have had little spells of recovering downhill.

· One notable point is his pedal balance was 50.7/49.3, which in my opinion, showed he is symmetrical in his left and right leg and also not carrying any injuries.

· One thing I believe we can deduct is that Ben has a huge aerobic engine and has done a lot of base work to be able to recover so quickly on the descents. His graph shows that on every uphill his heart and power soar and almost instantly his heart rate and power drop off simultaneously on the down. Athletes that are not conditioned will take far longer to recover after an effort.

· Ben has a predicted FTP of 400 watts. This is assumed on a 20min effort so we can deduce that he would have a useable FTP of approximately 380 watts ( 400 x 0.95) for the hour, which is the predictor for us knowing he would outlast most chasing from behind. The hilly parcours would make it extremely difficult to organise a chase

· His watts/kg would therefore be approximately 5.55 which is truly world class.

I trust you have enjoyed reading how we set the tactics for the race using power as a diagnostic tool to understand what our strengths were and to better understand our opponents dilemma in trying to combat that.

Wayne Evans is a Level 2 accredited coach and the team manager of the Australian-based, Continental-registered Navitas-Satalyst Racing Team.

Images courtesy: Steve Lloyd and Midlands Cycle Club

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