Power Data from the US Pro Road National Championships
Guest post by Justin Peschka, coach of Team SmartStop's Travis McCabe.
After McCabe claimed 2nd at the 2014 US Professional Road National Championships, Justin sent in a race recap complete with Travis' power files.
Team SmartStop found their team in great position pretty much the entire day at Nationals. Having two strong riders in the early break meant that their sprinter, Travis McCabe, could focus on getting over both the extended 7%+ climb (Lookout Mountain) and the short city-block climb referred to as "The Wall" (20%+ grade) — big obstacles each big lap. Travis had good legs and great position each lap. Garmin and others drove the pace up the Lookout Mountain climb each lap, taking about 12 minutes each ascent, as they worked to bring the breakaway back. Travis hung in there, making it over the hills each time without issue. Comparatively, the breakaway was going up the climb at about 15 minutes each lap.
Travis made good use of the time between each climb to eat, drink and recover while maintaining a decent position on the front. However, if you look at the data graph, there was not much soft pedaling on the course. He had to be on the pedals the entire day, as did the rest of the field, especially with the one-block long, annoying little 20% grade, each lap, essentially in between each push up Lookout Mountain.
Travis' file shows that Climb #1 (Lookout Mountain) was the hardest effort, as everyone had fresh legs. Each of the other Lookout Mountain ascents were ridden successfully in the top 15-20 riders, but at lower power. An average power of 410 watts, 400, 390, and 380 watts for each 12-13 minute climb were the numbers for today. As Travis' coach, I considered these quite good as Travis was still recovering from a pre-race infection and a week of antibiotics.
As the race took its toll on everyone, Travis survived the climbs nicely and was able to make it up to the breakaway with what was left of the peloton. This race was very attrition oriented, so the break and pack, once together, was under 20 riders as they entered the finishing circuits.
SmartStop had a great position at this point with three riders in the main group riding on terrain that suited Travis and his teammates. These finishing laps had short, steep climbs that really animated the tired riders and made for an aggressive final hour of racing.
Travis went on the attack in the final laps to allow his teammate Eric Marcotte (eventual winner) some rest, as he had been in the break all day. In the last hour of the race, Travis and the breakaway he was involved in managed to extend the gap to 20 seconds before the field really reacted.
Given Travis’ power data, it seems everyone was tired in that final hour. Looking at Travis’ normalized power for the final hour of the race, it was under 330 watts. He had a bit more in him but that power is much lower than he is accustomed putting out at the end of an important event. To create a breakaway gap with atypical “lower” power meant that everyone left in the group (less than 20 riders out of an initial 80+) was hurting more than he was.
The group finally responded, dragging Travis and his small break group back just moments from the final corner. Eric Marcotte, responded immediately and made one final surge into the last corner that nobody could respond to. Travis said that he felt like Eric blew by more than 5 mph faster then he and the rest of the field were going. Eric entered the corner so fast he went wide, almost into the outside barriers. This allowed an accelerating Travis to close the gap to Eric, but at that point Travis had not had enough time to recover, from his animated break, for a descent sprint. Since he was still trying to recharge his sprint, he decide to protect Eric’s right side during the final push to the line. At the line it was 2nd for McCabe and 1st for Marcotte! Great work by teammates.
The best thing about the end of the race for Travis was that although he was suffering, he hit his best 10 seconds of the day in that final sprint: 1033 watts. Not completely recovered and not anywhere near his best, but enough to best everyone else. Everyone but his SmartStop teammate, Eric Marcotte.
Nice job to both of them!