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Power Analysis: Powers vs. Flecha at the Amgen Tour’s TT

  • By Shawn Heidgen
  • Published May. 23, 2013
Alison Powers' heart rate (red line) spiked to nearly 200 bpm on the final climb (green line) in last Friday's time trial in California. Photo: TrainingPeaks

Normally we don’t compare data between men and women because it can be like comparing apples to oranges, but we decided to make an exception this time when two world-class cyclists and time trialers shared their data with us after racing the same course on the same day.

Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) shared his Powertap data and American Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis for MS) has shared her SRM data from the 19.75-mile course through San Jose, Calif. It was stage 6 in the men’s Amgen Tour of California.

An initial comparison of their data is below.

Powers’ TT summary

Result: 56:45, 2nd place, 56 seconds behind the winner
309 Average Watts
4.6 w/kg
1047 KJ
93.4 Training Stress Score (TSS)
313 Normalized Power (NP)
185 bpm Average Heart Rate
89 rpm Average Cadence
21 mph Average Speed

See Powers’ file in TrainingPeaks.

Flecha’s TT summary

Result: 51:15, 14th place, 2:23 behind the winner
413 Average Watts
5.4 w/kg
1247 KJ
82 TSS
419 NP
158 bpm Average Heart Rate
81 rpm Average Cadence
23.2 mph Average Speed

See Flecha’s file in TrainingPeaks.

Other than the obvious differences in that Flecha was putting out more watts and completed the course 5:30 faster, there are definitely some interesting comparisons to make.

One could argue that Powers actually did a slightly better job at pacing after comparing the two VI (Variability Index) values. VI examines the ratio of Normalized Power (NP) versus average power for a ride, and the resulting value shows how steady or constant the power output for an effort was. A VI of 1.0 (NP equals average power) indicates a perfectly steady effort, and most skilled time trialers will have a VI figure lower than 1.05. For more context, a VI for a road race full of surges, attacks and varying terrain may be in the range of 1.2 (though this can vary widely depending on circumstances).

Powers completed the TT course with a VI of 1.01 while Flecha logged a 1.03 VI. Both demonstrated excellent pacing, but Powers really nailed it with close to a “perfect” 1.0.

Flecha opted to ride his time trial bike the entire race, while Powers changed to a road bike for the final climb up Metcalf. After the race, Powers felt that the bike change worked to her advantage because the climb was so steep (900 feet in elevation change over 1.9 miles), and the road bike allowed her to ride in a more comfortable position.

For the section prior to the final climb, Powers spun just a little more than Flecha with a higher average cadence of 89 rpm vs. Flecha’s 81 rpm. However, on the final climb, both ground it out at a similar cadence: 63 rpm for Powers vs. 65 rpm for Flecha.

Powers’ Metcalf climb

12:42
1.84 miles
321 Average Watts
4.8 w/kg
245 KJ
323 NP
1.01 VI
191 bpm Average Heart Rate
63 rpm Average Cadence
8.7 mph Average Speed

Flecha’s Metcalf climb

10:50
1.87 miles
439 Average Watts
5.9 w/kg
286 KJ
445 NP
1.01 VI
163 bpm Average Heart rate
65 rpm Average Cadence
10.3 mph Average Speed

Although Flecha had the higher average speed overall (23.2 mph vs. 21 mph), Powers had the higher maximum speed. She hit 44.6 mph on the technical, challenging descent while Flecha topped out at 42.3 mph. Powers comes from a downhill ski racing background and she definitely put those skills to work!

Overall, both riders had great time trials while demonstrating excellent pacing, technique, and strength.

Editor’s note: Thanks to TrainingPeaks.com, we are looking at two riders’ power data from stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California. Today, Shawn Heidgen, a USA Cycling certified coach, former professional cyclist, and Education Specialist at TrainingPeaks, recaps the data from the eight-day race. For more, follow Shawn on Twitter.

FILED UNDER: Amgen Tour of California / Pro Power Analysis / Training Center TAGS: / / /

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