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Miles: 81.8 KM: 131.6
Start: Wed, May 18: Livermore
Finish: San Jose
Start Time: 11:45am Finish ETA: 3:15-3:34pm
Rory Sutherland's 3rd place on the first big mountain day
Let’s not beat around the bush: 478 watts normalized for 18 minutes and two seconds for a power to weight ratio of 6.3 watts per kilogram. That’s the bottom line of Rory Sutherland’s very impressive 3rd place in stage 4. As anticipated stage 4 came down to a shootout up the 3.5 mile, 1,759 foot, 8.4% grade Sierra Road hill top finish. Not only did Rory do 478 watts normalized and 462 watts average (6.1 watts/kg) but he surged, he ‘rested’ he was patient and in the end able to deliver highly variable power outputs to climb with Tour de France veterans Chris Horner, Andy Schleck and Levi Leipheimer. Rory’s ability to make 478 for 18 minutes watts bodes very well his stage 6 time trial. I will even go so far as to say with power like that, he’ll win the time trial.
A closer look at Rory’s Sierra Road Climb:
We can see from Rory’s power data the Sierra Road climb required a broad range of power outputs. For example, Rory was forced to make 681 watts for the first 21 seconds of the climb as RadioShack implemented their textbook slingshot launch. Once the rest of the group was back on their heels, Rory “settled” into a 502 watt effort for the next 2 minutes & 36 seconds. Combined this surge comes out to a 524 watt effort or 110% for the first 3 minutes of an 18 minute climb. You would think that the group would slow down into a steady pace but this is where Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer attacked. Bam, Rory was forced to dig deep and produce 593 watts for 53 seconds as he has still to let the winning move ride away.
At that point Rory makes a very wise decision to ‘conserve’ and ride steady for the next 4 minutes and 24 seconds at ‘only’ 415 watts or 87% of his overall normalized power output. I suspect Rory recovered during this time which allowed him to accelerate greater than 500 watts 2 more times & greater than 600 watts 3 more times before he reached the finish. At the finish, he matched Andy Schleck’s surge producing 643 watts for 19 seconds and then out “sprinted’ Levi Leipheimer by making 843 watts for 7 seconds.
Overall the power demands of the decisive Sierra Road climb were anything but steady. Power up, power down, accelerate, recover, pull, pace, and go hard all the way to the line.
What 6.3 watts/ kilogram means for Rory’s Time Trial:
With power like 478 watts, Rory has the absolute power to win the Stage 6 Time Trial. Power to weight ratios won’t matter near as much as power to aerodynamics in the predominantly flat Solvang Time Trial. The winner will have the highest absolute power divided by coefficient of drag. While Rory gives up 30 pounds or more to Horner, Schleck and Leipheimer for climbing, his coefficient of drag is not too much greater than theirs. Thus while the climbers are making 360 - 375 watts in their TT, Rory is rolling 450 - 460 watts. Advantage Sutherland.
We are not privy to Rory’s wind tunnel data to calculate his power to drag ratios but we do know he’s worked on his position and is “slippery-er” than ever: http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/01/news/black-magic-chris-boardman-and-rory-sutherland-in-the-wind-tunnel_155356 It is speculative to predict the winner of a race based on power data but at least we have the numerator of the defining equation . At this point who will win is speculative but Rory’s power data gives us the confidence to make a prediction. Plus it is fun. Ultimately as power guru Dr. Andy Coggan says, “The best predictor of performance is performance itself.” And best of all we will have the power data to analyze afterwards.
You can view Rory’s interactive race file by clicking the Training Peaks File viewer link : http://tpks.ws/SThJ
Power file analysis by Frank Overton, head coach at FasCat Coaching and owner of the FasCat Performance Cycling Center in Boulder, CO. Frank will be analyzing Rory’s Tour of California race data daily for VeloNews this week. For more information about Frank, FasCat Coaching, and their coaching or performance center services, please visit http://www.fascatcoaching.com/ or email frank@FasCatCoaching.com