Last week, the Nero boys headed down to Mt Gambier for the Tour of the Great South Coast. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out the squads videos from the event.
Being our first NRS tour, the main goal of the week was experience, that said, we didn't approach the week with any sense of trepidation. The belief within the team was strong, couple that with a real unified group and we knew that a result during the week was possible.
That said, culture and team spirit doesn't push the pedals for you, so just how did the Nero Racing Team Edition guys manage to hold a sprint jersey at an NRS tour and what did it take for Jesse Coyle to go so close to WINNING the tour overall.
This gives you a brief overview of the tour. We can see it was a consistently hard race, with all days being >4 w/kg normalised power*. However, no day stands out as particularly more difficult. In the end it was fatigue that hurt Chris more than anything else. In the last few days as he couldn’t get his HR up to the same levels as at the start of the tour. Interestingly, looking at Chris’ Performance manager chart he only hit -32.5 TSB. This number, although is high is not outrageous, as -10 to -30 are considered a solid but acceptable level of fatigue for Chris.
*Stage 5 pre sit up was 4.1w/kg
I believe the bigger contributor to Chris’s fatigue was the amount of work over threshold, and the back to back nature of the racing. Also, given the time in the season and Chris’ goals (Tour of Tassie) Chris has done limited over threshold work (see pic below) and hasn’t yet done enough back to back hard days to fully prepare him for this.
For this blog, we wanted to pick out Stage 1 and have a look at the rides of a few of the guys to show the differences in the races. The other stages will be covered in other blogs.
Stage 1 REVIEW – Short Technical Crit
Jesse Coyle: 48 min – 353 W Avg – 388 W NP – 5 w/kg
Chris Miller: 48min – 279 W Avg – 296 W NP - 4.5 w/kg
Shaun MacWilliam: 23min30s – 312 W Avg – 347 W NP - 4.82 w/kg
These were 3 very different rides. Jesse was up the front of the race from the start, on the attack all race and was awarded most aggressive rider. Chris was sitting in the bunch safely in a good position. Shaun started towards the back - he never really got into the race.
Taking a look at the first 5 minutes of each of the riders race, it becomes even more clear. Jesse had not yet attacked and averaged 340 W (4.5w/kg) for the first 5 minutes. He was riding out of a lot of corners at up to around 800 W, before settling down to about 400 W. He was up the front riding smart and conserving energy where possible.
Chris being slightly further back had to work a bit harder averaging 310W (4.8w/kg). He was often putting out 600 W out of the corner but holding 4-500 W till stopping pedalling into the next corner.
Shaun (starting near the back) had a very different race. He had to average 368 W (5.1 w/kg) for the first 5 min. This is a lot higher than the others, and all he was doing was making up for others losing wheels and trying to survive the elastic band effect around corners. He was consistently over 800 W out of the corners (often over 1000 W), and his effort didn’t settle down anywhere near as much as Jesse did at the front of the race.
At one point he averaged just under 900 W for 20 seconds from one corner to another. Really, this was the end of the race for him straight away as he couldn’t keep this sort of pace up. The settling of the race that he would have been hoping for just didn’t come.
All of this really serves to emphasise the importance of being up near the front of a crit of around 100 riders on a course like this.
It is worth highlighting that this can be course dependant - with the guys only pedalling for 10-20 seconds between each corner on this course, it really highlights issues like this. The road races are a different kettle of fish, as we’ll examine in a different blog.
What does it take to attack a NRS peloton?
Jesse’s ride clearly shows just how strong you have to be to get off the front of a peloton of this strength. In one of his early attacks, he was off the front for about 5 minutes. After an initial burst of close to 800W for 20 seconds, Jesse settled into a 467 W effort for 5 min until he was ultimately swallowed up again by the peloton. This attack and a few others like this netted Jesse some vital bonus seconds, moving him up towards the top of the overall standings. If this is what it takes to get caught, you can only imagine what it takes to stay away!
Lessons from Stage 1
Positioning, positioning, positioning. It really is incredibly vital in a compact crit with this many riders if you want to still be there to contest the finish. Often, races like this are a war of attrition, with a few guys drilling it at the front knowing that they’re dropping everyone at the back. So our one big tip – hit the first corner within the first 5 wheels and as long as you’ve got the fitness to stay there, you’ll give yourself the best chance to stay in the race and go with the moves. Remember though, this might not be the same for your local crit course.
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