Ryder Hesjedal season review using Performance Index

5 September 2016

Dr Daniel Green is the head of Sport Science for the Trek Segafredo professional cycling team, and in conjunction with Today’s Plan has developed the Performance Index. Throughout 2016 he has coached Ryder Hesjedal, and has used the Performance Index to ensure Ryder has been peaking at the right points of the season.

Ryder Hesjedal's Performance Index

As you may be aware, the Performance Index (PI) is a way to keep track of your performance and ensure you are on track to reach your goals. If your training volume and intensity are correct then you should see a steady increase in your PI, even if you haven’t started racing yet. If you are doing a lot of low intensity training without any hard efforts, then your PI will be very low, as PI is a performance measurement, so unless you do the ‘performance’ you won’t get the relevant PI score. Please remember this and don’t confuse PI with the concept of fitness, which relates more to what you are potentially ‘capable’ of doing, rather than what you have actually done.

In 2016, I have had the pleasure of coaching Ryder Hesjedal. The goal for this year was to have an all-out assault on the Giro D’Italia, that is, focussing for 6 months to be fit, fresh and ready to race for this incredibly difficult 3 week tour. There were some other shorter races planned for January with the Tour Down Under and then some additional races in March, but the plan was to use these races simply for training and put all of our eggs in the Giro basket. With this in mind, I used PI during the build-up to closely monitor Ryder’s progression.

The Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans race provided a nice opportunity to assess how things were going, and it was clear that a nice base was already in place, although the intensity wasn’t there – exactly as planned. And as expected due to the style of racing at TDU, this is with short punchy climbs, Max Aerobic Power was Ryder’s best strength during this time. Following this little block of racing and the big 6 week training block prior to this, we took a short break to recover at the beginning of February to then start the 10 week final preparation for the Giro.

As you can see the progression came along almost perfectly. Without forcing things, the quality of the efforts began to improve and then continue to improve as we approached our main focus. The Volta a Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country were used as additional high quality training and almost right on cue we hit the start of May with the best performances of 2016. Due to some technical difficulties we missed power data for several of the early stages of the Giro, which would have raised the PI even higher and hence why we have a relatively flat line for the race itself.

Unfortunately as it would turn out, Ryder was struck down will illness during the second week of the tour and after riding for several days while quite ill, he had to succumb to the fact that his body was no long able to continue on in its current state and abandoned the race on stage 14. After just 2 short weeks of recovery, Ryder then started the Dauphine and as you can see from his PI, the condition that we had worked on all year was there but for an untimely illness I am confident he would have achieved the goal we set out with at the beginning of 2016. But that is racing; you prepare the best you can using all the tools you have at your disposal, in this case PI, but some things are just out of your control.