Editor’s Note: Jon Tarkington is a senior coach at FasCat Coaching and Performance Cycling Center in Boulder, Colorado. For questions or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Timmy Duggan of the Liquigas-Cannondale team, the 2012 Amgen Tour of California proved to be an outstanding race. Peter Sagan’s five stage wins showed that the team had come to win, and they supported Sagan throughout the event. As one of those support riders, Duggan also had an impressive return to form.
Duggan was highly visible almost every single stage of the race, whether in a breakaway group or driving the front of the peloton in support of Sagan. Some stages saw both within the same day.
Here at FasCat Coaching and Performance Center we’ve had the pleasure of helping Duggan prepare for some of his racing this year through supplemental oxygen training and motorpacing. We also occasionally assist with power file review as well as general advice on training and altitude adaptation.
Prior to his departure for USA Cycling’s Professional National Championships this weekend in Greenville, South Carolina, we sat down with Duggan to discuss how the ATOC went and to examine the highlights from some his SRM power meter files. For those who really love number crunching, according to Duggan he currently weighs around 133.4lbs or 60.5kgs and has a functional threshold power of 315 watts at sea level, equaling 5.2 W/Kg.
Having suffered from respiratory issues and allergies for a good portion of the spring he was unsure of how he would perform in California. Any doubts were put to rest after Stage 1, which saw him spend a significant amount of time on the front. The final descent, where many TV viewers saw Liquigas control the front of the race, required 20 minutes with a normalized power of 310W. While not a huge power output, this effort came at the end of 4hrs and 2800kj of work, including a 10min effort at 367W (6.12W/Kg) ascending the final climb of the day.
After another day of setting tempo and helping to deliver Sagan to the line of Stage 2, Stage 3 was a great show of force by Duggan. It started right from the gun with an opening climb of 15 min at 350W as the early break left for the day. After segments of setting tempo for the field and the climb of Mt Diablo (25min @280W) the break was coming back into the field as Garmin lined up at the front in attempt to split the field in a crosswind. After this normally draining effort, Duggan hit the front yet again, and after 4.5hrs and 3000kj of work he led the Patterson pass climb into a driving headwind for 10 min @ 365W (6 W/Kg). This is a very impressive effort for being well into a difficult stage race on a hot day.
A truly epic day for Duggan was Stage 4. Duggan found himself in the early break; Garmin deemed that move a threat and brought the move back. Upon returning to the peloton Duggan was on the front of the field yet again. While there were no individual efforts that stood out on this day, the culmination of work for the day was 5hrs and 20min, 4000kj’s and a normalized power of 260W equating to a Training Stress Score (TSS) of 378.
By the time the riders survived the heat and solitude of the Stage 5 Bakersfield TT, the chronic fatigue of the event was beginning to set in. Duggan was again on the front attempting to reel in the break during the closing kilometers of Stage 6. The final 20 minutes of chasing saw a normalized power of only 275W. However, that came after1.5 hours of climbing to reach Big Bear Lake at a normalized power of 300W.
Stage 7 to Mt Baldy was another fine example of how hard otherwise “short” stages can be. An initial surge of 10 min at 385W (6.4 W/Kg) put Duggan in the break for the day. As the day wore on the wear and tear of the week caught up with all but the top riders. Duggan’s final challenging day of the race finished in just under 4 hours but with an astonishing normalized power of 295W.
All things considered Duggan was happy with his week at the ATOC. And with an average daily training stress of over 300 and a jump in Chronic Training Load from 141 to 172 TSS/Day, including the time trial and final stage, the event was clearly not a walk in the park. Duggan arrived home content with a return to the type of form that was typical for him prior to his traumatic crash at the 2008 Tour of Georgia. He’s had glimpses of that form over the past few years but his look back at the week shows he may be heading to another level. He admits that despite the difficulty of the week he felt as though the race put him “in the red” no more than once or twice and described the overall effort as “cruisy.”
Duggan’s summer racing plans are still being determined but there is one definitive race on the horizon this weekend. One is left to wonder the true impacts of a race like the Amgen Tour of California prior to Nationals. Thinking back to a similar final few days of the 2011 ATOC the dramatic exploits of one rising domestique, Matt Busche, come to mind. He went on to race for himself the following week, and as a result is now the defending champion heading into the road race in Greenville.
Will history repeat itself with a clearly on-form Duggan? The Liquigas rider demonstrated several times late in stages that he is currently capable of producing 6+ W/Kg for 10minutes. This power to weight ratio has been viewed as the “magic number” needed to make the final selection on Paris Mountain in Greenville. In a few days the dramatic race will unfold on the roads around the famous climb, and the 2012 National Champion will be crowned. For now it’s clear Duggan is ready for more action in 2012.