Santos Tour Down Under: Stage 1 – Sean Lake UniSA analysis

19 January 2016

Today in Stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under, Sean Lake of UniSA (Avanti IsoWhey Sport) did what he does best and blasted off the front of the peloton early on in the stage to create the breakaway. Along with riders from Lotto Jumbo and AG2r the trio managed to get a maximum gap of just 2 minutes 20 seconds which would prove to be not enough to hold off a fast finishing peloton as the sprinters licked their lips for the finish.

What does it take to establish and maintain a breakaway in the years first World Tour Race when the temperature reaches 40°C and the wind is blowing hard? A special type of rider who can ride a solid tempo for long periods of time, excels in the long breakaway and after back to back Grafton Inverell wins, Sean Lake was the man today!

The first graph shows the whole race profile in the Today’s Plan ride graph. All the main sections of the race have been created into laps to show the actual demands of the stage. Below this I have added the laps which have the detailed breakdown of the data.

Today’s Plan ride graph - Sean Lake

Sean Lake interval breakdown

The extreme heat is always a challenge for the riders as the body battles maintaining core temperature and delivering oxygenated blood to the working muscles. This can lead to slightly lower than normal power outputs for all riders and those who are looked after the best and have acclimatised to the heat the best often have the advantage. Threshold and VO2 power lines are also placed on the graph to show that Sean maintained mostly sub-threshold work for most of the day. For Sean the breakaway effort was really broken down into 4 main phases.

Creating the breakaway was not as hard as is often seen at the beginning of a WT race, with the extreme heat and being the first race of the season riders were quite happy for Sean and the other 2 riders to slip off the front with a near 3 minute effort of 500 watts. After this the 3 riders settled into a steady pace and increased the time over the peloton up to nearly 2 minutes. This was achieved with a 18 minute effort at 360 watts which represent about 5 watts/kg for Sean. As the KOM approached, Sean hit out early and actually hit a peak 30 second power output of 883 watts and maintained a 1 minute effort of 629 watts to take the KOM and win the Polka dot jersey for his UniSA team. The main details and full breakdown of the effort can be seen using the combined graph with highlighted peak power segments.

Today’s Plan ride graph - Sean Lake - peak power

After this the breakaway settled into getting the job done and maintaining their lead, unfortunately the bunch were not going to allow them much leeway this year. The trio maintained a lead of around 2 minutes with Sean rolling steady turns for 2 hours and 30 minutes holding an adjusted power of 290 watts or 3.7 watts/kg for Sean. As the bunch started to reel in the breakaway Sean went on a solo move to try and win the stage and steal the glory from the sprinters. Holding 340 watts average power and over 40 km/h for 20 minutes was not enough and with 5 km to go he was reeled in and the sprint trains started to get organised.

The day’s efforts can be seen against Sean’s PB efforts in the Today’s Plan chart below and it can be clearly seen that although not PB numbers the short duration efforts from 3 seconds to 2 minutes are closer to PB numbers than the longer duration efforts.

Sean Lake peak power history

After looking at the other UniSA riders who were sitting in the bunch for the day Sean had a much harder day that is for sure. If we just look at the lap data from Pat Lane, the Australian bronze medalist from this year’s National Championships you can clearly see the difference between sitting in the peloton and riding out front in the break.

Pat Lane interval breakdown

As both riders are very different weights the best comparison of effort is the individual Intensity Factors for each rider. Pat was able to sit in and save energy for the hilly stages coming up and ride at and overall intensity equivalent to 67% of his current threshold power, whereas Sean was at 76% of his.

There is no doubt that Sean is a star of the future and spending the day off the front in the first big race of the year is a great start.