The Day Report: USA Pro Challenge 2015 – Stage 4

The riders faced three categorized climbs on today’s stage from Aspen to Breckenridge. In what is becoming a constant, straight out of Aspen they started climbing – again, the 25km Independence Pass back up to 3,687 meters above sea level. The biggest climb on the stage, yet too early to be decisive, the lead riders were more focused on executing well on the final 25kms of the stage – up the second category climb of Hoosier Pass before descending into Breckenridge and being sent on a loop in the local neighborhood, containing Moonstone Rd. This short final third category climb proved to be one of the most decisive of the race so far due to its steepness and position at the very end of a tough stage, made more difficult by battering crosswinds midstage.

Breakaways have had very short leeway in this year’s USA Pro Challenge and today was no different as the pressure in the peloton during the crosswind section forced their capture. Throughout the day, teammates were called upon to shelter their leaders from the wind, so that they could save as much energy for the final 1.6km ascent up Moonstone Rd.  

An athlete’s performance data in a race provides a lot of insight into the demands of the event, and creates opportunities to learn when mistakes are made or for future use to define what is needed to succeed at the event. Yet there is nothing controlled about these files as the athlete must simply race for the win or to fulfill his or her role in the race. That’s all about conserving energy when possible, and giving it absolutely everything when they have to.

A quick review of UnitedHealthcare’s Jonny Clarke’s power file from today’s stage where he finished 4th, shows the three categorized climbs. Straight up was the high altitude Independence Pass which the front group covered in 59min47sec with a solid tailwind at an average speed of 24.7km/h. During this time, JC averaged 307W whereas at sea level he would have expected 350-360W.

Towards the end of the stage, the peloton raced over Hoosier Pass into a headwind which meant that the riders who sat behind the wheel of the rider in front of him sheltered from the wind, were able to conserve some energy. Clarke averaged 291W for 15mins30sec.

Finally, the last climb up Moonstone is only 1.6km but has ramps of 12%, which particularly hurts at 3000 meters. Here, just off the 3 riders who mounted the podium on the day, Clarke pushed 364W which is well above his lactate threshold taking into account the altitude.

The Pioneer power meter reads and the Cyclo-sphere site processes high-definition pedalling metrics including demonstrating the pedalling efficiency of the cyclist and the periods where the rider was riding out of the saddle (excessive standing is inefficient). You can see from the picture that as Clarke’s power increases, his pedaling efficiency increases as well, showing his professional pedigree.

It’s not over in Breckenridge yet as the riders face a difficult 13km time trial tomorrow with another ascent of Moonstone. Stay tuned to see who dominates and how the riders pace their event.

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