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Power Analysis: Sørensen tears up week three of the Tour

  • By Stephen Gallagher
  • Published Jul. 23, 2012
  • Updated Nov. 16, 2012 at 6:18 PM EST
Sørensen's stage 16 power chart

Editor’s Note: Thanks to TrainingPeaks.com, throughout the Tour de France we are looking at Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank rider Chris Anker Sørensen’s power data. Today, Stephen Gallagher of Forme Coaching in Belfast, Ireland, recaps Sørensen’s data from the race’s run through the Pyrénées and the final time trial.

We have the final pieces in the jigsaw that make up Chris Anker Sørensen’s epic 2012 Tour de France campaign that saw him receive the overall honors for “super combative” (also known as the Most Aggressive Rider award) in Paris. These final exploits are of mammoth proportions in both physical ability and mental toughness that is the hallmark of this popular Dane. Follow his journey in the below interpretation of his data, as we see what it takes to be one of the Tour de France’s major players.

Stage 16: Pau — Bagnères-de-Luchon 197km

View this stage  in TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer.
Stage Results
1. Thomas Voeckler, Europcar in 5:35:02
2. Chris Anker Sørensen, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank at 1:40
3. Gorka Izaguirre Insausti, Euskaltel-Euskadi at 3:22

Data Summary:
Training Stress Score: 435 TSS
Average Watts: 274W
Energy: 5533 Kilojoules
Average heart rate: 155 bpm
Average speed: 34.4 kph

One of the toughest days in the 2012 Tour proved to be Sørensen’s biggest opportunity to show his stuff on the world stage as he rode to second on the day through the heart of the Pyrénées.

Sørensen’s day started with many of his peak powers being produced in the first 30km before the breakaway hit the first climb of the day, the hors categorie Col d’Aubisque. The main move of the day was formed around the 25 km mark and the intense effort to make the group and be a decisive part in the effort to get time on the bunch helped Sørensen produce his peak powers from one minute (553W or 8.6 w/kg) through to 12 minutes (373W or 5.8w/kg) in this early flurry of action.

Sørensen rode the Aubsique at 308W and 4.8 w/kg, and was able to ride comfortably as part of this lead group that increased it lead on the peloton.

The Col du Tourmalet saw the lead group fragment with attacks from Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Voeckler. Chris fought to make the chase group behind Voeckler and Brice Feillu (Saur-Sojasun) and cruised up the 19 km HC climb with a 330W average at 5.1 w/kg.

The final two climbs set up for the battle for the stage and produced some of Sørensen’s best performances in this year’s Tour. The gradual increase in watts per kilogram over the climbs continued with the Cat. 1 Col d’Aspin producing aggressive racing in pursuit of the leaders. Sørensen formed a partnership with Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) at a steady tempo of 345W (5.3 w/kg) for 58 minutes and an impressive, steady cadence of 87rpm on the steep slopes, which is a fantastic trait of a modern day climbing specialist.

The final showdown on the Col de Peyresourde was the last chance for Sørensen and the other poursuivents to catch a solo Voeckler for the stage win. The Dane’s fight for the stage saw him drop his companions and catch and pass Feillu, producing 347W and 5.4 w/kg on the way to the summit. Again, a steady increase in power over the last climb was not enough to catch Voeckler, nor was the chase on the descent where Sørensen hit speeds of 80kph in pursuit of a stage win.

Sørensen’s second-place finish on the stage was the result of a brutal day that required his highest Training Stress Score to date: 435 TSS. The ride moved him up to 14th overall and set the stage for his combativity award in Paris. A truly impressive performance by Sørensen on stage 16.

What was most impressive was Sørensen’s steady increase of watts per kilogram over the day’s four climbs:
Col d’Aubisque 4.8w/kg 53:58 308W
Col du Tourmalet 5.1w/kg 58:10 330W
Col d’Aspin 5.3w/kg 29:36 345W
Col de Peyresourde 5.4w/kg 26:46 347W

Peak power values:
Peak 1-minute Power: 553W
Peak 6-minute Power: 402W
Peak 20-minute Power: 352W

Stage 17: Bagnères-de-Luchon — Peyragudes 143.5km

View this stage  in TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer.

Stage Results
1. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar in 4:12:11
2. Christopher Froome, Team Sky at :19
3. Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky at s.t.
24. Chris Anker Sørensen, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank at 4:10

Data Summary:
Training Stress Score: 356 TSS
Average Watts: 275W
Energy: 4258 Kilojoules
Average Speed: 33.2 kph

Today was the shortest of this year’s Tour and was to be the last chance for the climbers to make their mark before the final TT showdown. It was also a last opportunity for Sørensen to show his climbing powers. Again with aggressive racing from the gun, his recovery from yesterday’s stage was impressive as Sørensen again made the break of the day that was to decide the stage win.

Producing 386W and 6.0w/kg on the first climb of Col de Mente, he spent nearly 30 minutes over his threshold to maintain his presence in the lead group along with producing many of his peak power outputs for the stage. Disaster struck at the start of the dangerous descent following the Col des Ares climb when Sørensen crashed and badly cut his fingers. The serious injury saw him receive treatment from the Tour doctor and return to the chasing peloton. He was scheduled to undergo a skin graft procedure on Monday.

Sørensen fought his way up the following two climbs to the finish, the HC Port de Balès and Cat. 1 Peyragudes, at 352W for 11.7km (36:44) and 330W for 15.44km (39:49), respectively, all while suffering injuries that were to have a significant influence on his ability to remain in contact with the yellow jersey group on the last climb. His 5.1 w/kg effort on the Peyragudes saw him lose contact with the leaders on the way to the plateau as he battled through serious injury.

A 356 TSS score shows it was another big day, with Sørensen accumulating a combined TSS of 791 points in stages 16 and 17 in the Pyrénées! Don’t try that at home, folks!

Peak power values:
Peak 1-minutes: 478W
Peak 6-minutes: 408W
Peak 20-minutes: 390W

Stage 18: Blagnac — Brive-la-Gaillarde 222.5km

View this stage in TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer.

Stage Results
1. Mark Cavendish, Sky in 4:54:12
2. Matthew Goss, Orica-GreenEdge at s.t.
3. Peter Sagan, Liquigas-Cannondale at s.t.
54. Chris Anker Sørensen, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank at :16

Data Summary:
Training Stress Score: 299 TSS
Average Watts: 223W
Energy: 3992 Kilojoules
Average speed: 44.8 kph

Today was a long day in the saddle with nearly five hours of racing on flat to rolling terrain that produced a bunch sprint. With a controlled bunch, Sørensen was able to use this opportunity to recover before the penultimate-stage time trial. His power profile shows him producing his peak power values from two-to-six minutes on the Cat. 3 Côte de Saint-Georges. Chris cranked out peak two-minute power at 440W and peak six-minute power at 394W, indicating that the aggressors for a breakaway on this stage were riding hard to forge ahead and make their mark on a last opportunity for a winning break.

The bunch left the climax to the final 5km of the stage as the chasing peloton averaged 51 kph. Chris produced 344W for six minutes to maintain his presence in the bunch along with a big peak power of 948W on the final push for the line. A sprint stage, stage 18 was still a long day in the saddle and produced close to 300 TSS. This was not an easy day for someone recovering from a serious crash the day before and two previous big days in the high mountains.

Stage 19: Bonneval — Chartres (ITT) 53.5km

View this stage in TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer.

Stage Results
1. Bradley Wiggins, Sky in 1:04:13
2. Christopher Froome, Sky at 1:16
3. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil, Rabobank at 1:50
78. Chris Anker Sørensen, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank at 6:41

Data Summary:
Training Stress Score: 117 TSS
Average Watts: 360W
Energy: 1519 Kilojoules
Average speed: 45.3 kph

The final GC showdown of the 2012 Tour de France was set for Saturday’s 53.5km TT on the mostly flat route that allowed Bradley Wiggins to stamp his authority over this year’s event. Sørensen had a battle of his own to maintain his 14th GC position, which he successfully accomplished.

Sørensen’s final average wattage was bang-on his Functional Threshold Power (FTP) of 360W. This shows a true stage racer’s ability, to be able to produce a one-hour-plus effort at FTP after three weeks of racing. This is the sort of performance profile needed to be a top contender in the Tour for both GC and stages.

He started his TT pacing at 370W, which he sustained for the first 20 minutes. Sørensen then gradually reduced his pacing to 350-355W as the lactate started to mount.

Sørensen saved his final GC position with this performance in the individual TT. He averaged 30W more in this TT than stage 9, again an indication of his profile and natural ability for these long, three-week tours, with an upward curve in performance as the race unfolded.

For more Tour de France race files and analysis visit trainingpeaks.com/TDF.

FILED UNDER: Pro Power Analysis / Tour de France / Training Center TAGS: / /

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