How to win a road race

Procycling - - Road Tested - Jon Sharples, Train­Sharp

It takes a lot to win a road race. It’s of­ten been said that you don’t need to be the strong­est to win a race but be­ing able to pro­duce the num­bers when it counts is still a fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment. This is­sue, we look at what it takes to win a race at the very top level of our sport.

A re­cent study of the top five rid­ers in a num­ber of races end­ing in a bunch sprint shows peak pow­ers of over 1,200 watts, an av­er­age (for 13 seconds, the av­er­age du­ra­tion of a sprint fin­ish) of over 1,000W, and an av­er­age top speed of 66kph. If th­ese num­bers look a bit out of reach, let’s make it rel­a­tive. The av­er­age weight of the group was 72kg which equates to 18W/kg in the sprint.

So that’s the sprint but what if you are not gifted with Greipel’s calves, Cavendish’s kick, or Kit­tel’s im­mac­u­late hair? Let’s take Nibali’s win in Sh­effield this year – the two-minute ef­fort that won him the stage. With an av­er­age power of 495 W [7.6 W/kg] it sounds almost doable, con­sid­er­ing the top GC rid­ers will be av­er­ag­ing around 6 W/kg for 30 min­utes or so in the moun­tains. But his ef­fort is a lot more im­pres­sive once you know that he pro­duced two 900W+ ef­forts in suc­ces­sion to make the break, and all this after a very tough 200km stage through York­shire!

So if you want to win and step up, th­ese are the num­bers to tar­get: • 6W/kg for a 30-min climb • 15W/kg for a late at­tack • 18W/kg to win a bunch sprint Bear in mind that th­ese num­bers are pro­duced after 200km of rac­ing – you have to add 10-15 per cent to see what they can do fresh! At Train­Sharp we can help you work to­wards such tar­gets us­ing per­son­alised train­ing plans and track progress with power anal­y­sis.

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