EXPLORING BETTER WAYS TO RIDE
Just one of the great athletes who works with SPC.
Alex is a 27-year-old male. He is single but works a demanding job and had never been cycle-racing before 2014. Two years ago he had competed in a 500km event, and found he enjoyed it but Alex was studying and did not pursue riding any further.
A year ago he started riding over the summer and become interested in the idea of doing everything right to see what would happen. In part to pursue something completely, and to push his physical limits.
His goal was to compete in national and local races in Norway, and the Tour of Flanders Sportive and L’Etape du Tour. Both events need endurance. Flanders – 3-5 minute power for short climbs. L’Etape – Functional Threshold Power (FTP) for longer climbs. He also wanted to race locally and is a big fan of smashing out new Strava climb records.
Each sportive takes 4-6 hours to complete. An endurance base is important as the cyclist has to ride consistently for the entire time. Alex then has to create speed through accelerations at crucial times during the event. Any sportive cycling event uses the aerobic system as its main energy system.
National and Local Road Races
Road races take between 2-5 hours to complete. So, it is a mainly an aerobic event but the athlete must have the ability to handle shorter efforts from 15 seconds to 8 minutes. This component requires strength and speed which produces power. Each race has a unique combination of efforts to train before the event.
THE TRAINING PROGRAM
The training year was from mid-September to mid-August. The preparation phase consisted of 10 weeks of base building until December. Which was cold, wet and snowy – no place for training outside.
December consisted of a short maintenance block and the a weights-based resistance training. In preparation for the transfer of strength to power for the Tour of Flanders Sportive. Alex did this weights-based resistance training for 2 days a week for 12 weeks total.
After a snowy winter break of maintaining endurance and building strength, I divided the year into two cycles of 12 weeks each.
The first cycle consisted of 12 weeks (Jan-April). The first 4 weeks of the cycle focussed on indoor training at Alex’s local gym, where he was using spin bikes. This was due to not being able to use a trainer at home. To make the most of his time we focussed on tempo/SS and big gear efforts.
Alex was able to get outside in February – the weather was still unpredictable but manageable most of the time. The focus here shifted to Zone 2 workouts with a little bit of freedom to get out and do long hilly rides. While slowly incorporating hill repeats and building the intensity.
Which as March rolled around turned into V02 Max repeats. This focus on the short climbing efforts was for the Tour of Flanders Sportive. Zone 2 maintenance included either long rides or sweetspot intervals.
After the Tour of Flanders we moved into a 4 week race period. Using V02Max to maintain fitness while not putting in the extra time in endurance zones. Following these four weeks, we had a mid-season break towards to start of May.
The second cycle consisted of 12 weeks (May-August).
After the break we focussed on endurance and sweetspot to rebuild the base before hitting some intensity again.
The next block after this focussed on raising Alex’s FTP and consisted of a lot of steady state work at or above FTP. Which moved from the flats to the hills as L’Etape du Tour drew closer, and a short taper before the event.
After L’Etape du Tour there was 5 weeks remaining before the final A race of the season. A 15 minute group hill climb. Alex was on holidays in Europe for 2 weeks after L’Etape and his CTL started to take a tumble. I prescribed sprint workouts to account for the fact that he had limited time to train. I wanted to see how he would react to these shorter efforts after a long season.
There was no real need for a taper. But as expected during the race, he was unable to stay with the leaders, and didn’t put out any best power numbers.
What were the results of this training?
Tour of Flanders Sportive – Fizzer
Ronde van Berg – 2nd (in breakaway)
Lågendalsrittet – 3rd
Nibberittet – 4th
Trollstigen Race – 3rd (first across the line)
Nordfjordrittet – 1st (out of 217)
L-Etape du Tour – 66th (out of 12,000)
Alex performed well at both sportives despite no other competitors and a big crash. In the Flanders Sportive he recorded a quick time and ended up swapping off turns with the Belgian National Champion. It shows, the success of his strength training for 5 minute power.
The first 2 hours of L’Etape Alex got caught in slower riders before a series crash on the slippery downhill. After which the weather settled in which caused mental fatigue in the latter stages of the race.
In the road races he recorded his first ever win and two podiums. There were near misses due to inexperience and not understanding the race format. This caused lower places despite at times crossing the line first.
Performance (Numbers) – First cycle.
FTP – From top of Cat 2 (4.4W/Kg) to mid Domestique Pro (5.05W/Kg) a 12.9% increase.
5 Minute – From mid Cat 2 (5.01W/Kg) to top of Domestique Pro (6.46W/Kg) a 22.4% increase.
Performance (Numbers) – Second cycle.
FTP – (5.05W/Kg) to (5.15W/Kg) a 0.9% increase.*
No final test 🙁
If you want to take a closer look at the numbers in relation to load.
CTL Peak: 111
Lowest TSB: -55
Mean Maximal Power Curve – shows changes at every power level especially at 5, 10, 20 and 60 minutes.
Mean Maximal Powers – a big jump from mid feb to mid March from a combination of getting outside and starting V02 Max work.
77.10 V02 Max Score
5.51 best Lim Score
Total hours: 359:37:15
Total TSS: 19912
Total Load (TSS): 19912
Total moving time: 359:37:15
Total work (Kj): 246434
Total Distance (Km): 9309
Total metres climbed: 198029
Biggest week (hrs): 18:54:00
Biggest week (load): 1094
Effective Power:Avg HR
|1 September, 2013||1.1574977817213843|
|1 October, 2013||1.4358389670243945|
|1 November, 2013||1.5935915997097219|
|1 December, 2013||1.6003408259773362|
|1 January, 2014||1.6135415759218479|
|1 February, 2014||1.5878941772307342|
|1 March, 2014||1.586842937665052|
|1 April, 2014||1.5971485925318936|
|1 May, 2014||1.7274105394712498|
|1 June, 2014||1.7633162378053617|
|1 July, 2014||1.8683250283263448|
|1 August, 2014||1.865982591507947|
Just for Fun
Average temp (C): 11
Average speed (km/ph): 24
Changes for next season to take Alex to the next level.
On a macro level Alex has shown that he’s able to handle larges loads of stress. We could miss training on the bike in the winter, and move to a more traditional training program. Where a ramp up occurs from Late Feb/Early March.
While his numbers continued to increase, there was an obvious plateau of his FTP. Aiming for races in May/June would give him the extra time to build with longer blocks before starting FTP. Then train V02Max work to get the bump in fitness later on.
No performance bests in races. Needs to race a higher level. Not only because his race results varied due to his riding skills, and tactical inexperience. But he was not pushed to his limits in these races. I recommended more and harder racing. In fact make everything about racing. No sportives.
There you go, hopefully that gives you a template to review your season. And make the changes necessary to improve next year.
If you want me to do this for you, your can sign up for any coaching package and I’ll do a review as part of planning the next season. Check at my coaching packages at semiprocycling.com/coaching.