Powered to a Podium – Team Colavita’s Lauretta Hanson
(Photo credits: Jonathan Devich)
By Benjamin Sharp
Earning a podium spot in a bike race is never easy, especially when you are pitted against some of the best riders the country has to offer. As the “resident coach” at Stages Power, I thought it would be interesting to see exactly what it would take to climb the steps at the end of a stage race.
Thanks to Team Colavita, Stages Power, and Today’s Plan, I will be able to break down the demands of each day of racing from the 2016 North Star Grand Prix. The North Star Grand Prix is a 5-day, 6-stage event held each June near the Twin Cities. It attracts some of the strongest domestic riders and is a part of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour (PRT).
St. Paul Time Trial
Race distance: 7.9km
Elevation gain: 38m
Race time: 11:22
Result: Stage – 3rd (+:26), GC –3rd (+:26)
Specific features: A short time trial on road bikes with one climb in the middle of approximately 300m. While on paper this Time Trial does not make up a substantial amount of time compared to the entire stage race, placings and time gaps in the Stage 1 Time Trial will significantly influence the overall results. A strong ride in the Time Trial goes a long way to assuring a good finish in the overall general classification.
Comments from Lauretta: “The nature of the course made it difficult to aim for a specific power while on course. Being such a short TT, it was more of a VO2 Max effort. The goal was to maintain consistent pressure on the pedals and try to average around 44km/h. At the turn around, I really made sure to stay on it up the hill and used the descent on the other side to recover slightly before settling in for the last few km. Finished 3rd in this stage.”
After looking at historical data from this time trial (it’s been a part of the North Star Grand Prix for a number of years), Lauretta knew that averaging 44 kph would put her in the hunt for the win. She was right! Brianne Walle, who won the stage and assumed leadership of the stage race averaged 44.2 kph for the time trial.
Using Today’s Plan for file analysis, let’s take a look and see how well Lauretta paced herself for this effort.
Average power: 324w
Average speed: 41.8kph (according to GPS)
The graph above is directly from the ride file in Today’s Plan. Across the x-axis you will see duration. Graphed in the y-axis are: heart rate (red), elevation (grey background), power recorded in 1s intervals (black), speed (purple – solid) and goal speed – 44kph (purple – dashed).
I have roughly broken the ride out into quarters based on duration (~2m50s per quarter). The summaries for those quarters are below:
|overall||1/4 – 1||1/4 – 2||1/4 -3||1/4 – 4|
|average power (watts)||321||346||324||306||317|
|average speed (kph)||41.4||42.8||41||42.1||41|
|average heart rate (bpm)||181||173||181||185||185|
One thing I notice right away is that Lauretta has executed one of the basic axioms of time trialing, that is, the slower you’re going, the more power you should be producing. Without going too deep into this rabbit hole, the reason for this general strategy is because the slower you are going, the bigger impact on speed (in relative terms) a change in power output will have. Increasing output by 10% on an uphill section, for example, will net a larger change to your speed than a 10% increase in power on a faster downhill or tail wind section.
While the first quarter of Lauretta’s time trial had the highest average power, and also the highest speed, it does include the standing start which inevitably will spike the wattage, especially when during a short time trial. If we break down the opening quarter of the time trial even further, to isolate the start, we see that in the first minute of the TT, Lauretta averaged 376 watts (with a peak power of 777 watts) at an average speed of 40.3 kph. For the remaining 1m50s of the opening quarter, she averaged 317 watts at an average speed of 42.8 kph.
(The summary of the interval information from Today’s Plan is below).
The captured data and subsequent race result (3rd place!) reveal that Lauretta did a very good job of pacing herself during this time trial. The power appears to have been applied higher at the appropriate times and relatively consistently throughout the effort.
As an aside, after doing a little number crunching on www.bestbikesplit.com it appears that on the day, Lauretta would have had to average approximately 360w for the entire duration of the time trial to match the goal pace of 44kph.
Next time we will take a look at the unique demands of a criterium with the stage 2, St. Paul Criterium.