The tale of two riders: National Capital Tour prologue 2015

18 September 2015

In this short article we will look at how pacing can affect short time trial performance from the National Capital Tour prologue. We’ll look at one rider who finished inside the top 10 and another rider inside the top 40; 26 seconds behind.

As you can see, rider 1 demonstrates a very controlled and applied application of power over the course. He held long periods without pedalling on the descents to recover for the next effort. Power on the climbs was held right in the pocket at 115% – 125% of his current threshold power.

Rider 1 power graphs

Compare this to rider 2 who we can see pedalled a lot more on the descents and also overpowered the beginning of each climbing effort.

Rider 2 power graph

This TT was all about the climbs. By allowing for small recoveries when already up to a high speed allowed rider 1 to produce more power, more consistently on the climbs.

Here is the rider 1 power tab. This shows a range of peak powers over various time constraints. You can see that there were no big outlying power numbers and this allowed for a much greater overall 5 minute power output to be applied. Note that average watts and adjusted watts were very similar for both riders.

Rider 1 power summary

Rider 2 in comparison had some big outlying power numbers with a maximum of 1,231 watts in comparison to rider 1, whose maximum was 784 watts. These hard sprint type efforts by rider 2 would have burnt more energy that affected his ability to sustain a constant power output on the climbs. By the start of the final main climb rider 2 was actually only 6 seconds behind rider 1, so the bulk of the time was lost in this final climb.

Rider 1 power summary

So the message here is clear; getting the pacing right in a time trial is critical to success and much can be learned by studying the data and developing the correct way to ride each individual course.