By Brad Hall, Hall Cycle Training, Verve Affiliate Dealer
The following article is based around power files taken from the Roues Chaude Criterium held during the first weekend of March. Two power files have been presented from two athletes riding for the Continental-registered Navitas-Satalyst Racing Team based out of Perth, Western Australia.
For analytical purposes I should clarify both athletes are of the same mass and morphology (build), one rider made the front group and won the race, whilst the other finished in what remained of the peloton.
Rider A: Higher power outputs and did not make the front group.
Rider B: Lower power outputs, made the front group and won the race.
Power meters are traditionally used for analysis of rider output which can be used to infer fitness characteristics and subsequently tailor training to suit the individual’s needs. In this article we seek to demonstrate, with appropriate power analysis, one can also outline tactical skill and technical ability.
Both riders completed the race, ride for Navitas-Satalyst and use Verve Cycling’s InfoCrank power meter. I should preface that the InfoCrank is incredibly stable across time and also across units, meaning the inter-unit and intra-unit variability, or error, are very low thereby making comparison between crank units ideal and accurate.
Rider A’s average and normalised power output (the metabolic effort to attain an average power) were both higher than Rider B by 10%. At the five-minute mark when the break rode clear, Rider A had a higher peak five-minute power than Rider B even though Rider B made the front group while Rider A did not.
This is interesting as the two riders have the same mass and morphology and yet the rider with a lower average output (Rider B) made the front split and maintained position at the front for the remainder of the race. Rider B eventually won. Importantly, both riders were able to contest the finish yet only one made ‘the cut’.
Considering the two power meter units read equally and are stable across time, this anomaly indicates tactical advantage for the rider with lower watts. Rider B, who made the break and won the race, is well known for his tactical intuition and immense anaerobic power output. We have seen from this particular rider an ability to generate 20watts/kilogram for 10seconds in an all-out sprint finish during a race – a huge anaerobic power reserve.
From this data set we can therefore infer that Rider A may need assistance around how he rode and read the race and what can be done to ensure fitness is put to best use. Considering Rider B rides in the same team, this athlete could best afford advice as to what technical aspects could be passed onto Rider A so they can benefit from their hard work in training.
Here we have demonstrated that fitness alone does not always win a bike race. Through power analysis we are able to ascertain that a rider’s strength could be their fitness but their tactical intuition may require further analysis, insight, and development.
Clearly, accurate and reliable power data can be used to best hone an athlete’s abilities across a myriad of situations and circumstances.Brad Hall is an exercise scientist-endurance coach, research assistant and provisional psychologist working from the Perth Western Australia region alongside some of WA’s best up and coming athletes. www.bradhall.com.au.