A few weekends ago saw hundreds of riders descend on the small NSW country town of Blayney for the 2017 Blayney to Bathurst. Our Nero Team Edition guys were well represented, with five of them in the Gold wave.
The race didn’t quite go to plan, with a big early break getting away containing many of the race favorites. Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite the representation we were after, with only one rider (Angus) making the break. However, we still achieved most of what we wanted to do.
The goals were to be represented in the break, and get Chris (and hopefully Garry) in the front group up the climb. We ticked those, but the break was just too strong and never came back despite the efforts of the guys in the bunch. All in all, it was a great learning experience, and gave us a few things to reflect on.
So what does it take?
Let’s look at the rides of Chris Miller, Moosh Brown, The DRC and Angus Calder who was in the break away. Race distance is 109km and ascent is 1100ish meters.
CM – Time: 2h:38m Speed: 41.5km/h Power: 224avg (275NP) Heart Rate: 140avg (Thresh 165)
MB – Time: 2h:41m Speed: 40.6km/h Power: 230avg (283NP) Heart Rate: 146avg (Thresh 163)
DRC - Time: 2h:55m Speed: 37.4km/h Power: 225avg (281NP) Heart Rate: 150avg (Thresh 170)
AC - Time: 2h:38m Speed: 41.5km/h Power: 224avg (275NP) Heart Rate: 140avg (Thresh 165)
The first interesting thing to look at are the averages. You can see surprising similarities between all 3 that were in the bunch, yet big differences in their times. This is in a large part due to the weight difference and the amount of work they did. DRC and Moosh did more work than Chris, therefore their normalised power was higher than his despite both sitting up and cruising to the finish earlier than him. Also, being heavier they have to put out more watts if they want to do the same pace up any sort of incline. I will go into a deeper analysis of each rider’s ride below.
The DRC by the numbers
Danny’s ride is a look at what it takes to attempt to get in the early break and then work for the team. The parcours of the race meant that we knew Danny was unlikely to get to the finish in a position to use his powerful sprint. However, this doesn’t mean he should go through the race being irrelevant. His job was to mark the breakaways (with the hope this might help him get over the climb in a good position) or work for the better climbers to keep them in a good position. The way the race played out couldn’t have been much worse for Danny.
Let’s just say the start was hard. Danny’s max HR happened inside the first 10 min of the race - not easy to do without a warm up. During this first 11 min of the race Danny averaged north of 330 W and more than 360 NP which is almost 5w/kg, showing just how tough it is to mark moves. Danny’s first 40 min when he was trying to get in moves and mark moves he managed to average 267 W. This isn’t a true representation of the effort though, as his NP was 325 W which is not far from his threshold. Effectively, this means he was working at threshold for the first 40 min.
His HR was an average of 161 BPM - not far off his threshold HR which shows the difficulty of attempting to mark the breaks. His next 20 min didn’t get much easier - at the top of the climb out of the sharp right hand bend he was still averaging over 260 W with a NP of over 320 W. The next 40 min from here was a little easier, but trying to control the break he was still working until the split in the peleton before the climb. After 1.5 hours in Danny had still averaged over 250 W, and his NP was still north of 300W. At just over 75kg this is around 4w/kg (very solid numbers for that length of time). Needless to say with Chris, Garry and Angus up the road, from here Danny just rolled into town having done his job well.
Essentially this is a similar story to DRC’s, except Moosh tried to continue up the climb with not much left in the legs. Moosh also hit his max HR in the first 15 min. He was very active early, and got in a break that may have been the break of the day, only to be brought back. Unfortunately, the next break went and would never be seen again. For around the first 15 min Moosh averaged 315W (350NP). This included his almost break which was 5 minutes at just over 350 W, peaking at just under 900W. Moosh kept working for the first 40 min, with his NP staying over 300W the whole time.
When the peloton split later in the race, Moosh was one of the guys responsible for keeping the peloton close enough for Chris to bridge. For about 15 minutes Moosh averaged just under 300 W to keep the peloton within touching distance. He backed this up just minutes later to do over 300 W for 15 min up the climb (over 4.5 w/kg) to just continue to mark anything that might try and get across to Chris and Garry. With all this great work done and dusted Moosh rolled in with his group, continuing to work just for some extra training.
Chris Miller's Ride
Here we can see Chris’ graph of his ride. The main thing to notice is how well he stuck inside the bunch and hid without expending too much energy. You can see his heartrate barely peaked until his effort to bridge across about 2/3rds of the way through. He then had another couple of peaks up the climb and towards the finish. For the approximately 1.5 hours until he bridged, his numbers were quite low - he averaged just 208 W (260 NP) with an average HR of 135 BPM. This is just a normal long ride pace for Chris.
Bridging across after the peloton split started the business end of the race for Chris. From this effort to the finish ended up being just over 1 hour. During this time Chris averaged 250W (291NP) for 149BPM - much harder than the first part of the race. For the effort to bridge across the split in the peloton he averaged just under 400 W (6.2 w/kg) for 4 min up a small incline to get across.
Remarkably, and showing his fitness, it took just 2 min after this effort for his heart rate to drop back to 110 BPM (which is in his recovery zone), down from a race high of 178 BPM. Up the main climb of the day (Quarry Hill) Chris averaged 315W (5 w/kg) for just under 15 min, with just a 161 BPM average HR to comfortably stick with the front runners of the split. Again, despite a couple of accelerations over the top his HR dropped back to 100 BPM within 2 minutes.
The final run to the finish was quite frantic. During this uphill run to the finish Chris was working to keep Garry in a good position. For just over 6 min he averaged 320W, which included 16 individual spikes above 500 W (maxing out at 800 W) indicating the intermittent nature of the finish.
Hopefully these numbers proved an interesting insight into what it takes to compete at this level, and highlights the difference between staying put in the bunch and being more active at the front of the race. I’ll do another similar post after the State Champs road race next weekend.
As always, if you have any questions about coaching or training in general flick us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org