Power Doesn’t Win You Races, Speed Does


Hey lads so I’ve just got back to the A1 office after a tough session.

I’ve been on a spin with Lurky and we had some strength efforts to bang out.

My last blog on why we should include strength work in our programmes is worth checking out if you haven’t already done so.

To Spin Or Push A Gear

Anyway I captured the whole day in a vlog if you’d like to see what we got up to – and that’s due out early next week on our YouTube channel and I’d love your feedback on it.

I’m trying my best to keep the Blogs/Vlogs on the same page as I find the two compliment each other quite well.

Power wins races… right?

As a former elite/professional cyclist and a now coach/sports scientist I’m very well aware of the necessity to concentrate on the fundamental physiological variables such as functional threshold and vo2 max for example.

Training these variables undoubtedly nets you the required fitness to get some results or simply improve performance and therefore can never be overlooked.

However, most riders believe watts to be the be all and end all of every cycling equation and through my own experience of riding at a decent level and through the analysis of thousands of power files…

It’s not power that wins races, it’s speed.

I can never get over the fact that most riders still believe that the rider with the highest power or power to weight ratio wins the race – this is simply not true.

To be clear we’re talking road races here.

To be honest it’s closer to being true at the top levels of the sport particularly in time trials than it is at a domestic level.

For example if you told me the watts you could do in a TT and I knew how you looked on a TT bike – I’d give you a pretty damn good guess at what time you’d cover a 25 mile TT in.

Road racing is a completely different ball game though.

There is a far more to road racing than simply power cadence and all the other various performance related variables.

These are not the only defining factors in your road race results – far from it in fact.

For example, there are a lot of riders on the scene that are far more bike fit than I am at the moment – better power to weight, better FTP.

You name it on paper – they win every time.

But no cockiness intended I’d beat a lot of these guys on race day.

Why might that be?

Knowing how to ride and read a race or in other words –race craft.

Race craft includes experience in making the right tactical decisions and the ability to cope under pressure asides from all the technical aspects such as holding position and riding in the bunch.

It’s a difficult balance, saving energy and being as efficient as you can while still staying in contention in a race.

We train everyday but all too often we come across athletes with all the attributes to win on paper but these internal factors let them down.

The old saying ‘if you’re going to be dumb you gotta be tough’ holds through here.

Unless you’re a pure animal – to win races or nail your targets in cycling you got to be wise about it.

We train all the time on the physical factors – threshold, speed vo2 max ect.

How often do you think about the tactical factors in races?

Some riders are very gifted at reading events tactically regardless of their physiological ability.

We all know that guy that makes the winning breakaway almost every week.

If you’re not good at this stuff and you want to win races you need to ask yourself a serious question…

How the hell do you expect it to get better if you don’t work on it?

1. What do the good lads do?

2. Ask the good lads what they do – most will be happy to answer your questions – I’d be shocked otherwise.

Seriously if you don’t know ask questions guys.

3. Watch cycling races and study this stuff like you would anything else you needed to learn.

4. Join a club league and try a tonne of new things there – apply what you learn.

5. Joining a club with a good amount of senior riders is very important in particular for the younger riders – we can’t advocate the importance of this enough.

Maybe it’s time to open your mind a little to the many other aspects of the sport that directly influence your race day performance.

Above all if you don’t know the answers ask questions and watch the best in the business.

Success leaves clues.

Up the road.

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