Ed Laverack and three other riders are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. Ed rides for the UCI Continental team SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling this season. This is Ed’s 7th journal entry…
Alaphillipe showed us how fitness doesn’t always show how good a bike rider you are
The biggest month of the year for many cyclists. Not just for the pros, but for the club cyclist too. We had such a good month for cycling. The weather was glorious, the cafés were full and the coffee was cool.
The Tour was one of the most fascinating in recent memory. I’m sure many of you reading this will have enjoyed the uncertainty of it. Alaphillipe fought extremely hard to keep the yellow jumper for as long as he did, leading us to ask the question, ‘What could he do with full team support and a Grand Tour training plan?’
I particularly love the fact he showed us how fitness doesn’t always show how good a bike rider you are. Being able to go downhill fast is part of that package. I’ve heard people argue that they hated that this year’s edition had so many downhill finishes, and that it takes away the aggressive racing. Personally I loved that we had a mix of finishes in the high mountains as it was no longer a simple case of whoever got to the top first wins.
This year’s edition surprised me. Ineos were represented well in the first 10 days but their leaders looked a little more isolated than we are used to seeing. Teams like Jumbo-Visma came to the fore and yet in the mountains no team looked dominant. Movistar really putting a stranglehold on the team classification with their strength in depth.
It’s incredible to think what it takes to ride, not even race, a Grand Tour. I love the data side of it and there’s some pretty interesting articles out there sweeping and compiling information for us to drool over. As far as one day or week long stage races go, there are some top elite riders in the UK that could hold their own against the top in the world. When it comes to the Tour and alike I think it’s a different story.
The difference is the repetition. Day after day. So you can do 450w for 20min? Great. Now, can you do that after 3000kj (energy used)? On the 13th day of the Tour? Its pretty incredible when you think about the demands. In the real world, for moderate workouts and interval sessions, daily Training Stress Score (TSS) is around 100. For long rides, there is a range of 200-300 TSS depending on intensity and duration. 500-750 weekly TSS is typically what many middle ground cyclists manage. For the Tour de France, a typical day could be as much as 400-600 TSS depending if the rider is in the break in a big mountain stage or has the unfortunate task of a 2-up break on a 220km flat stage. Great for the sponsors, bad for moral!
When Yates won the 15th stage of the Tour this year he accumulated 308 TSS and burnt 4366kj in 5 hours. The final climb to the finish was 30 minutes long. Yates would need to be able to produce an effort close to threshold for this time period in order to survive to the finish. Stomping out 5.9w/kg after what we can assume has been a 3500kj day up until then – and thats not just 3500kj riding in Zone 2, it’s a number of climbs at threshold and long periods of freewheeling – is testimony to how good his preparation, fuelling and fitness was for this day. Love them or hate them, the best thing about having all these numbers and breakdowns is any rider can compare themselves, and attempt to mimic or compare their biggest rides or events, with those of Yates.
Featured photo: Zac Williams/SWpix.com. 8/07/2019, 2019 Tour De France Stage 3, Bianche – Epernay, Belgium – Julian Alaphillipe wins stage 3
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