Race File Analysis – Anya Louw at the women’s Warnambool Classic

25 February 2022

By Gracie Elvin

The first ever edition of the women’s Lochard Energy Warnambool Classic was recently run and won with impressive speed and tactics from the small women’s peloton. It was a historic occasion because the original race is the second oldest and longest race in the world, and while there has been a small amount of participation by women over the years, it was the first time that a separate female race has been introduced.

Photograpy by Con Chronis

There were 47 starters for the 156.7km race from Colac to Warnambool, including some of the strongest riders from the National Road Series. Despite the relatively small field size, a distance much further than most of the riders had ever raced, and a headwind for much of the distance, the women delivered a fast and exciting race and proved that it was a great decision to introduce a separate event.

Anya Louw
Photograpy by Con Chronis

Anya Louw (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) was not only the winner of the Lochard Energy Young Rider classification, but also had a major impact on the race in her support of her teammate and overall winner Maeve Plouffe. We are lucky to have access to Anya’s race file to analyze and discuss her successful performance as an individual as well as how she was an important asset to her winning teammate.

Photograpy by Con Chronis

With one of the top pre-race favourites in her team in Maeve Plouffe, Anya had to play an important domestique role during the race to protect her team leader. For the 4 hours and 15 minutes of racing, Anya spent 18:57mins in her Threshold zone; 13:30mins in her VO2 zone; and 17:25mins in her Anaerobic zone. This data tells us that she was covering many attacks and remaining attentive to the aggressive moves of the other teams to make sure she was in the breakaways or making sure Maeve was well protected.

Anya’s average power for the whole race was 154w (2.9w/kg), but her adjusted power was much higher at 192w (3.6w/kg). Adjusted power is based off her average power as well as her spikes in power, and gives us a better indicator of the effort of the race than just the average watts alone. In the first hour her average watts were 152w; in the second hour 130w; in the third hour 172w; and in the fourth 160w. These numbers give us an idea of how the race was ridden, but let’s take a more detailed look.

In the first hour of racing, Anya achieved her best 5 minute power at 265w (5.0w/kg) and 1 minute power at 359w (6.8w/kg) for the day. This was due to there being the biggest climb of the race within the first 8km. The peloton was fresh and excited, and Anya’s numbers show that she was trying to stay in good position and make sure she could cover any dangerous early attacks. Anya peaked her power between 400-700 watts over 20 times in this first hour, telling us that it was an aggressive start to the race. 

In the second hour of racing, Anya’s power profile shows far fewer spikes and this is mainly due to the downhill nature of the course for about 25km. After an aggressive first hour of racing, the bunch were more subdued in this section as they ate and drank and recalibrated for the next part of the race. After 60kms was where we see Anya’s power start to spike again and this is because the bunch had come to the first QOM of the day. We see that she was covering attacks and following the rhythm of the bunch for about 5kms before the next lull. Anya achieved her best 10 minute and 20 minute powers of the day in the last part of this hour, at 235w (4.4w/kg) and 226w (4.3w/kg) respectively.

The third hour of the race proved to be the toughest and included the most decisive moment when the winning breakaway was made. There was an uphill gravel section at around the 75km kilometer mark, and then there was a steady stream of attacks for the next 30kms. Anya covered many of these moves alongside her other team mates, making sure her leader Maeve didn’t have to expend much of her own energy. Anya achieved her best 30second power of the day in this section (432w (8.1w/kg)), where she covered a particularly hard attack. Finally, at about 50km to go, the bunch splintered and the final group of 7 was created that included Anya and Maeve and most of the other pre-race favourites. We can clearly see on her power profile when the breakaway established and they worked together at a steady and sustainable pace.

The final 1 hour and 15 minutes of racing was much more steady as the breakaway group rode steady and even turns to establish more than 3 minutes ahead of the peloton by the finish. We can see by the consistency of her power profile that Anya pulled an equal share of turns to her breakaway companions. With approximately 6.5km to go, the first major attack was made and Anya was not able to stay in contact with the group. She rode solo to the finish and was able to claim the Young Rider classification after her impressive performance all day.

This analysis tells a great story about the first women’s Warnambool Classic and how hard it was raced by the peloton. It also tells us how important the domestiques are in teams to take the pressure off their team leaders. Thanks to the dozens of power peaks throughout the day by Anya and her teammates, their leader Maeve was able to arrive as fresh as possible to win in the final sprint to the line. At 21 years old, Anya has a bright future ahead of her!

Photograpy by Con Chronis

Some final fun facts to sum up this analysis:

  • Anya had suffered a major crash two weeks earlier and had spent most of her time recovering off the bike and on the couch before this race. This makes her performance even more impressive!
  • She burned 2394 calories which equals about 24 gels
  • Her average cadence was 89
  • Her intensity factor (IFF) was 0.77, meaning she raced for over 4:15hours at 77% of her threshold power
  • Her TScore was 255
  • Her top speed was 74.8km/hr