Archive for July, 2010

2010 Tour de France Power

Monday, July 26th, 2010

by Frank Overton

Dirk Friel Tour de France Power Data Talk & Slideshow Wednesday July 28th @ 7pm

It’s  Monday night post Tour and for the firsts time in 3 weeks our productivity has spiked (thus free’ing me up for a blog post). Correct me if I’m wrong but I think a lot of fans have transitioned back into a normal non-Tour routine?  I first started following the Tour in 1997 (I think) to the tune of ~20-25 minute taped ESPN re-plays at 5:30 MST.  The sport has come a long way and yesterday afternoon, I admit it was kinda sad to say goodbye to the fever, the electricity and competition until 2011.  It used to be I scanned every internet report –and read Frankie Andreau’s every word (remember those TdF diaries?)

Since ’97 I’ve followed the Tour as a fan, an athlete, a coach and also as a casual power data couch “scientist”.  It has always been a curiosity to me as a powermeter user to know what the pros “do” .  If you can define the upper limits of human performance you can relate that to the athlete’s I coach.   In the early days power files were hoarded away and kept secret.  Below is one of the first chances I had to learn that Lance Armstrong and Jan Ulrich did 6.3 & 6.0 watts per kilogram of body watt up the 2004 Alpe D’Huez Time Trial.

This is a picture I took of a poster presentation in SRM’s headquarters in Julich, Germany.  445 watts for 39 minutes and 11 seconds.   Ulrich made nearly the same power (440 watts) but his extra 2 kilo’s of body weight lost him 61 seconds.  Maximal sustained power and power to weight is the the name of the game.  These figures formed the initial figures for what we’d talk about and throw around in talks, presentations and comparisons to other athletes and performances.

In 2006, I closely followed Dr. Allen Lim’s daily power data report on about Floyd Landis’s PowerTap data.    6.4 – 6.6 watts / kg were some of the numbers that were thrown around if I remember correctly.

Also in

2006, Training Peak’s began publically publishing power data and I eagerly downloaded Christian Vande Velde’s SRM from the Tour each day.  For the first time to my knowledge this was a complete data set (except the TT) of a 3 week Tour.   I wrote an article about Christian’s power data that mainly focused on the power based metrics TSS, CTL using the new (at the time) impulse-response power based performance model.  Christian was not a GC contender but it was intriguing to see the kind of wattage a European non super star made.  Plus the 3 week data set made for a nice analysis.

In 2008 & 2009 the Tour data rolled in & for the most part 6.4 – 6.5 w/kg was the winning GC numbers.  Last year in 2009 I was fortunate to obtain a powertap file from Garmin-Transitions rider, Danny Pate of which I made a video analysis.   Again, just some background of the kind of “normal” wattage a Tour de France rider makes.  Normal, being 5.5 watts/ kg for 40 minutes & 381 watts for 19 minutes.  Sheesh and this is not even going full gas.

As a point of reference I also have a 6.1 watt/kg 31:08 pre-Tour field test (6/27/09)from Pate to serve as a baseline for what he can do fresh and full gas. 6.1 watts per kilogram – remember that folks.

Then this year, once again the fine folks at Training Peaks (Hunter Allen & Dirk Friel) released another nearly complete power data set from Team Saxo Bank’s Chris Anker Sorenson.  He was the guy absolutely annihilating himself at the base of the climbs before Andy Schleck launched his attacks on Contador.   What stands out the most from Sorenson’s data is that he did 5.76 w/kg for 21st place & 64 minutes in the Tour’s final time trial.   Two things are significant about this power:

1.   Up until now the public has not been privvy to many full full gas power data performances in the Tour de France.

2.  Sorenson beat both Schleck and Contador, meaning they did less the 5.76 w/kg in their Tour winning performances (aerodynamics, watts/CdA aside).

The Science of Sport Blog makes a case that Schleck & Contador were doing 5.9 watts/ kg up the Tourmalet and Chris Horner did 5.6 w/kg.  Where’d those 6.3 – 6.5 w/kg performances go?  You know.

Back to those ESPN coverage days in ’97, weren’t the Tour’s GC winner’s supposed to be winning or at least contending for the “w’?  They certainly didn’t get 35th and 44th.   So what’s going on here?  This year, like he should have, World Champ Fabian Cancellara wins the TT by over 2 minutes to all but 2 other time trial specialists whereas last year Contador beat Cancellara in the all important time trial.   These type of performances remind me of the Oak Express commercials, with the tag line, “that’s not natural”.

I think 35th & 44th in this year’s Tour de France TT was natural and these guys were a) tired and b) racing clean.  Quite refreshing and encouraging for guys like Danny Pate who can 6.1 watts/kg!

Thanks to the power data and slower times up the climbs this year, the Tour is becoming cleaner (we have data to prove it) and the performances more are believable.  At times over the last 12-13 years I have felt like I was watching Jimmy the SuperFly Snooka .  This year I didn’t.  The race was better, closer, more suspenseful and more human.   For the first time in my Tour watching history, I could see the winner really truly suffering.

And for the guys like Pate, Cadel, Bookwalter and domestic pros that I know can TT @ 5.76 watts/ kg and climb @ 5.6 – 5.9 w/kg the Tour is not far off for you.  You can do it, it’s not that far off anymore.  I’ve seen your data and I know you can make those power to weight numbers in testing, single day racing and probably shorter tours.   Just work on making those wattages after 12-16 previous stages!  5 years ago – untouchable.  Next year, do-able.  Go for it!!  I’ll be rootin’ for you and hopefully analyzing your power data.

We’ll hear more about the power data  from Tour de France this year when Dirk Friel gives his presentation Wednesday July 28th @ 7pm.  Come on over and join us!

2010 Tour De France Training Plan

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

By FasCat Coach Matt Rossman

Inspired by  FasCat athlete Ken Campbell’s  goal of following the Tour De France, I designed a training plan to mimic the physiological demands of the Tour. Every year, this cyclist rides 1/3 to 1/2 of the mileage the riders in the Tour. When they are in the mountains, he climbs as much as he can. On flat transition stages, he aims for more miles. This year, I designed a training plan that incorporates his mileage goals for July and provides workouts that provide similar physiological stresses to those encountered in the Tour. I even wrote a training tip along with the plan published in Velonews.

This was an interesting idea and I thought expanding on it to provide a Tour De France plan that is more applicable to everyday training was a great idea. Stepping away from the mileage aspect of the plan (even one third of some of the Tour stages is a long ride) I focused on the intervals that would best simulate the different stages of the Tour. This way a rider could get a taste of riding the tour, but do so with manageable riding hours.

The different workouts on the calendar are specific to the terrain and what the GC riders will be doing on the stages. On the Tourmalet stage for example, the riders will be doing sweet spot/threshold on the climbs leading up to the Tourmalet, then full-gas efforts to the summit finish. On the training plan, this is represented by two sweet spot intervals followed by one threshold, all out effort at the end of the ride.

It’s hard for anything to compare to riding a Grand Tour. Following the tour plan will be a good way to use the excitement of the Tour to stimulate your training. There are also a number of quality workouts to make you faster!

Thank you for the Grand Opening !!

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

The Grand Opening was a huge success!  Thanks to all of our friends, family, FasCat athletes, and colleagues that came out.   It is humbling to have the support of so many people.  In many ways the day reminded me of my wedding reception and I have to admit I nearly jerked a tear or two in joy.

I meant to say a few words during the event but lost track of time visiting with everyone.    Instead I’d just like to write that a little over a year ago I had an idea and that’s where this all started.  I wrote a business plan and got help with the pro forma from my good friend, former mountain bike teammate, roommate and MBA grad, Jon Alegranti. We met one Thursday night at The Kitchen and had no shame working away on our laptops amidst their crowd.   Architects, bankers, insurance agents, consultants — I’ve met and worked with a lot of great people in the past year that helped make the center a reality.  You can find pictures of them below.

Additionally, I have to thank the other FasCat Coaches who have already made the performance center a great place to work.   I am grateful to have you guys a part of FasCat Coaching!!  And of course, it shouldn’t go without saying but really it’s the FasCat athletes who have made this performance center happen.  In return, we are stepping it up and we are doing this for you!  So you can “get faster”, train smarter, have more training resources and take your cycling to the next level.

Lastly, I want to thank my wonderful wife and two daughters that have given me inspiration, motivation and the support to make this happen.

For those of you how follow us from afar here are a few pictures from the event.  Enjoy and I hope to see you at the FasCat Performance Cycling Center soon!

Grand Opening July 17th !!!

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

It’s time to kick off all our hard work and present this place to the whole wide world.  Well, let’s start with our fans, athletes & supporters in the greater Boulder vicinity this Saturday the 17th!!  Please come on over and say “Hello” for this fun filled day.  Here is what we’ll be up to:

6 – 9:30am: Watching the Tour de France live in HD  in our Indoor Cycling area on the 58″ Plasma.  Come sit on our cheetah print couch!

10am: Group Ride: Jamestown

Noon-ish: Lunch, catered by Mad Greens

Afternoon: Presentation: Krista Schultz, FasCat Exercise Physiologist : “Exercise Physiology Testing:  What it is, why you should test, and how we will use the data to improve your performance”

Afternoon: Open House – stop in to visit, talk with the FasCat staff, check out our performance equipment and see what we’re up to

4pm – 6:30pm: Happy Hour with beer, wine and light hor d’oeuvres served by our friendly neighbors 4580 Restaurant

Maybe I’ll even get the nerve up for a little speech w/introductions, thanks you’s and what our plans are the future.  Thanks and we hope to see you this Saturday!!

Tom Zirbel “Announcement”

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Being as the Tour Day France is upon us and teams are announcing their exciting new sponsors, I thought I should hold my own private press conference to announce my new sponsor (employer): FasCat Coaching.  Many of you know that Frank Overton has coached me in the past and helped me achieve the results that landed my first pro contract.  Well, over the years Frank and I have spent many hours in intense ‘business meetings’ discussing all things cycling over the local breweries’ finest.   And recently, in lieu of racing due to my current unforeseen situation, Frank took me on as an apprentice coach with his business FasCat Coaching.  I have been at it for a couple of months now and I am having fun being part of the team.  FasCat just opened a new Performance Center in Boulder on N. Broadway so that has been really exciting as well.  If you’re local make sure you stop in, say hello, and check out the new digs.  We have a lot of cools things going on including live coverage of the Tour everyday in HD on the big screen!  I plan to be there every morning drinking coffee and screaming at the T.V.
So that’s what’s new with me.  I have been riding quite a bit but still no real ‘training’.  I have a 13 mile trail running race coming up in 2 weeks so I’ve been trying to half-heartedly prepare for that.  I’ve been managing to get those competitive outlets in here and there for sanity purposes. But now that I’m a coach, I may just try to live through the athletes I’m working with!