A High Power to Weight Will Not Win You The Race by Stephen Gallagher, Head Coach.

Mar 22, 2012

As a coach and rider, I fully understand the importance of the science of training and the necessity to concentrate on your functional threshold power (FTP), Vo2max and sprint etc.  How this directly impacts on your fitness and, in turn, enables you to gain results and performances in races you set out to achieve can never be underestimated.

BIG REVELATION: through experience in racing and coaching, I can see there is not a solid correlation between a high pwr/kg ratio (power to weight) and the position you finish in a race compared to another cyclist with a lower pwr/kg ratio.

To help explain what I mean, I have many examples of power files from riders in the same race who have different pwr/kg ratios.  What you would normally expect is that the strongest rider wins or finishes in front i.e. the rider with the highest pwr/kg ratio.  WRONG!

Having access to many riders’ files provides me with a unique opportunity to analyse race training data.  I have seen riders with a pwr/kg ratio of 5.10 watts per kilo (this number is derived from dividing their weight by their threshold power) on 2 separate occasions finish mid pack behind a rider who has either finished in the lead group or won the race with a ratio of 4.66 watts per kilo.  You may say this is luck, but this is just one of many examples where I have seen riders in the same race finish in vastly different positions, but who have similar pwr/kg ratios.

What does this mean?

It proves that there is a lot more to road racing than simply science and watts.  This is not a key indicator for your finish position in a race.  What is important to take into consideration are individual external and internal factors that influence ability and performance when racing.

External and internal factors...what might they be?

These factors include experience in making the right tactical decisions and the ability to cope with the psychology when racing.  When under pressure, nerves or fear can influence your performance during the race.

How often do we spend training physically?  Every day?  Perhaps up to 7 times a week on the bike?

How many times do we work on the other internal factors that have as much direct influence on our performance?  Not too often I would suspect.

Everyone’s level of experience and ability to ‘read a race’ is vastly different, as is each individual’s mental ability to make decisions under physical and mental stress i.e. when in a bike race.  So, know your mind.  Do you need to start training it to think differently?  Are you mentally focused in every race?  Do you believe and have the desire to achieve the results you want?

Open your mind to many other variables that directly influence your performance.  Start the process and training to find out the best method for you to improve this.

Every detail counts.

Category: Advice Coaching

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