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Power Analysis: Mitchell Docker’s Tour of Flanders race data

  • By Shawn Heidgen
  • Published Apr. 3, 2013
Mitchell Docker pushed plenty of watts during the Tour of Flanders despite finishing in the gruppetto. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

Orica-GreenEdge produced a respectable result at this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), with Sebastian Langeveld finishing 10th — 1:39 behind race winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard). Orica domestique Mitchell Docker, an Australian, raced with an SRM power meter and has shared his data by way of his TrainingPeaks account.

See Docker’s race data in his TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer.

Docker finished 107th, 13:35 after the winner in what is commonly referred to as the gruppetto. Some cycling enthusiasts might believe that finishing in the gruppetto is almost “easy,” and that the domestiques and sprinters (on a climbing day) just “pull the plug” before the finish line and simply ride to make the time cut.

Looking at Mitchell’s data, however, it’s very clear the gruppetto is no “laughing bunch.” Below you can see Docker’s summary outputs for the entire race.

Power data summary

Official time: 6:19
Average watts: 250
Average watts/kg: 3.4
Normalized Power: 309*
Distance: 258 km
Average speed: 39.7 kph
KJ: 5856
Average cadence: 83
Average heart rate: 147 bpm

*Normalized Power is an estimate of the power that could have been maintained for the same physiological “cost” if power output had been constant. Because of the factors that are taken into consideration, Normalized Power gives a better indication of the true demands of an effort than average power does.

The numbers above show that Docker is a world-class cyclist, and he was able to produce power outputs that very few cyclists could replicate for several hours of racing.

Before the race, Orica sport director Laurenzo Lapage told his riders to lay low during the first half, thinking that the winning break would not be established prior to the first ascent of the Oude Kwaremont. He wanted to have as many riders left as possible once the race hit the finishing circuits, where the action would heat up.

Following instructions, Docker jumped into action and hit his 20-minute Peak Power at the end of the first half of the race. Docker averaged 328 watts (4.5 w/kg) during this 12.3-kilometer stretch, expending nearly 400 calories during just these 20 minutes. That’s more than two servings of bruges frites — Belgian fries — gone in the same amount of time that it would probably take to eat them.

20-minute Peak Power

average watts: 328
Average watts/kg:4.5
Normalized Power: 368
Distance: 12.3 km
Average speed: 36.9 kph
KJ: 393
Average cadence:85
Average heart rate: 167

The first ascent up the Oude Kwaremont (1.5 km, 5.3% average grade) was blistering. Docker produced his Peak Power values for 5 and 12 minutes on the first of three ascents on the finishing circuits, about four and half hours into the race.

5-minute Peak Power

Average watts:412
Average watts/kg: 5.6
Distance:2.3
Average speed: 27.1 kph
Average cadence: 86
Average heart rate 175 bpm

12-minute Peak Power

Average watts 347
Average watts/kg: 4.8
Normalized Power: 388
Distance: 6.5 km
Average speed: 32.3
Average cadence: 83
Average heart rate: 167

The riders completed three finishing circuits, which included eight climbs. They tackled the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg three times each and one ascent of the Kruisberg and Hooberg. These were the major climbs of the race and they certainly took their toll on the field. Below you can see the declining statistics from Docker’s three repeats of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.

Oude Kwaremont

Climb: 2.2 km, 4 percent average grade
Time: 5:20, 6:02, 6:39
Average power (watts): 396, 349, 305
Average watts/kg: 5.4, 4.8, 4.2
Average heart rate (bpm): 171, 169, 152
Average speed (kph): 24, 22, 20

Paterberg

Climb: 360 meters, 9 percent average grade
Time: 1:38, 1:46, 1:50
Average power (watts): 440, 403, 421
Average watts/kg: 6, 5.5, 5.8
Average heart rate (bpm): 167, 163, 157
Average speed (kph): 13.9, 12.9, 12.9

As the numbers reveal, Docker was racing hard until the end. While the circuits did decrease in power and speed over time, there are no significant differences between them with the exception of the last ascent of the Oude Kwaremont, where Docker was clearly battling fatigue.

In UCI races, riders must finish within a percentage of the winner’s time, usually eight percent — about 29 minutes in this race — in order to be given a final result. Docker finished in 6:19 (13:35 behind the winner), with just 16 minutes of a 6-hour race to spare. And remember, he was putting out 5-6 watts/kg on the final climbs.

Still think the riding in the gruppetto is easy?

Editor’s Note: Thanks to TrainingPeaks.com, we are looking at Orica-GreenEdge rider Mitchell Docker’s power data from last weekend’s Ronde van Vlaanderen. Today, Shawn Heidgen, a USA Cycling certified coach, former professional cyclist, and Education Specialist at TrainingPeaks, recaps Docker’s data from the one-day race. For more, follow Shawn on Twitter.

FILED UNDER: Pro Power Analysis / Training Center TAGS: / / /

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