By The Numbers: Travis McCabe’s Criterium National Championship Ride
We are going to start by looking at the Performance Management Chart available from TrainingPeaks. This allows us to get a bigger picture of Travis’s fitness and fatigue levels coming into the 2017 Criterium National Championships.
Speed Changes and Acceleration
Jumping into Travis’s race file on Pioneer Cyclo-Sphere, the first thing to note is the rhythm of the race. It started erratic with slower laps interlaced with very fast laps as opportunistic riders looked to form a breakaway. With another big surge at the 20-25 minute mark, the pace then settled down a little through the middle of the race. The final 15mins saw the pace accelerate for a very fast finale.
Overlaying power onto the graph in figure 2, you can see how these bursts in pace required surges in power output as recorded from his Pioneer power meter to stay within the main peloton.
Efficiency: the name of the Game
An interesting aspect of the Pioneer is the ability to be able to see standing vs seated rate within a session as seen in figure 3. Travis got out of the saddle only 20 times in a 35 lap race which played a big part in setting him up for the win. In these big criteriums, there is a need to be efficient, not brake very much, hold speed through the corners and stay in a position in the peloton that is neither too far forward, nor too far back. It is a matter of saving energy for the final laps where the result is on the line. Travis was able to conserve throughout the race whilst his UnitedHealthcare teammates did the bulk of the work in bringing the race back together for a field sprint.
This issue of efficiency shows further when looking at Travis’s maximum power outputs from this race, which were below his historic best. Come race day, the priority is not putting out the biggest numbers, rather it is simply riding to the demands of the race and doing what you have to do to in order to be the first across the finish line.
How do we use this kind of data to prepare?
Clearly Travis was in good physiological shape going into the race, and the team provided him the support during the race he needed. However, preparation is crucial for this kind of specialized race. A typical pre-race preparation for this event would require sessions designed to produce a lot of small “micro-bursts” of power from a moderate level to well over his lactate threshold. Lactate Threshold is the exertion level in which the body goes from functioning predominately with the efficient aerobic system to the high power producing but quickly fatiguing anaerobic system.