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Stage 5 of the Tour de France was yet another seaside route along the French coast line with brutal crosswinds. However, unlike within stage 3, Team Saxo Bank and Chris Anker Sorensen were prepared and present at the front of the race when it counted. The final 50 miles of today's stage was raced at full throttle and Chris set new personal-best Tour de France power records to prove it.
As memories of stage 3’s carnage caused by the wind and Team Columbia was still fresh in everyone’s mind, Team Saxo Bank and Astana began putting the pressure on when the winds picked up at about 40 miles to go in the stage. Fabian Cancellara was motivated and provided much of the horsepower which eventually split the peleton and created a 40-man front group. Most of the overall favorites were present and the multiple groups eventually re-assembled for a field sprint for third place.
During the mad dash to stick at the front Team Saxo Bank’s Chris Anker set his highest 5-minute and 20-minute power values of the Tour de France so far, at 412w and 364w respectively. He also set his highest average watts for any of the three road stages at 238w. The physiological demands on his body however, due to the constant accelerations at maximum effort, were equal to having ridden at 290w for the entire stage (also known as normalized power).
By taking into account the intensity (as compared to Chris’s estimated functional threshold power) and the duration of the stage, we can calculate a points value known as the Training Stress Score (TSS). When we analyze Chris’s stage 5 data we see he accumulated the second highest points value at 281TSS points, as compared to stage 3’s 292 points. Historically you can expect to see the highest TSS values to top out above 350TSS points when the race hits the big mountain stages. Look for Friday’s stage to be the next hardest day of racing when the Tour hits the high mountains leading into Andorra.