Last time, we looked at Team Calimax p/b Pista Palace rider Eder’s Frayre’s power file for his 8th place finish on stage 2 of the Redlands Classic Stage race. This time we’ll examine his file for the 4th and final “Sunset Loop” stage, where the riders do 12 laps of a 6.4 mile circuit with approximately 500 feet of climbing per lap, and then finish it off with 5 laps of the criterium course that the amateur riders race earlier in the day. Sunset Loop is arguably the most difficult stage of the race. Not only do the racesr have 4 days of racing in their legs, but hitting that climb 12 times causes the group to shatter. Typically only 20-30 riders make it with the front group and onto the finishing circuit, and the rest of the pack is given a pro-rated time. We knew this would be another opportunity for Eder to shine, as he can get over the hills, but still pack a punch in the finish.
The race started off with a brutal pace, and Eder averaged 315 watts for the first 15 minutes of the race. The first 5 of that was actually relatively easy, and after 5 minutes he had to do a solid 10 minutes at 340 watts ( 5.48 w/kg), and this was only 10 miles into a 94 mile race. (Trust me, you’ll enjoy your training rides more if you don’t start them off like this) The pace was so hot that many riders couldn’t muster that sort of effort after 3 days of racing, and were popped that first time up the hill. The rolling nature of this course is what makes it especially brutal; there is no time for rest, even on the downhill. Most courses with 500 feet of climbing have a downhill where riders can rest and recover, but the most rest Eder ever got was around two and a half minutes of each lap at just over 200W. Compare this to the Beaumont stage 2 days prior, where he had an extended period at less than 100 watts each lap. He never really went longer than a few seconds without pedaling, and had to spend the downhill sections jockeying for position. Even those precious moments of rest were marked by several 500 watt spikes that were required to hold or improve his position.
The next few laps were just a little bit easier, as Eder had to do 290-300W for around 9 minutes each time up the hill the next several laps, but the pace was still tough enough that the front group was starting to become smaller and smaller each lap. Lap 5 was especially tough, as Eder had to do around 360 watts (5.8 W/Kg) up the climb on this lap. The group was really shattering, and as I handed the Calimax p/b Pista Palace boys bottles from the feed zone, I could see that Eder was just hanging on to the back of the front group. Luckily the whole group must have been tired, as the next time up the climb required only a 275 watt effort, and by the next time they came through the feed zone, Eder was fully integrated into the front group of around 30 riders. The following laps were more mellow, with a similar pace to some of the earlier ones, with 290-300 watts required to make it up the climb, and the lead group was firmly established. The second to last lap was another tough one, as Mancebo was attacking for what would eventually become a stage and GC win. Eder had to push 330 watts to stay with the bunch this time, but he was still firmly in the group, and didn’t appear to be hurting. Lap 12 was much more reasonable, as many rider were probably thinking about a stage finish and letting Mancebo and breakaway partner Andres Corrales dangle out 30 seconds or so in front of them.
Eder was near the back of the pack as the remaining group of 30 hardmen entered the finishing circuit. Optum was chasing hard in defense of Haga’s yellow jersey as Mancebo was doing all the pulling and amazingly holding the group at bay. Team manager Justin Beope (owner of Pista Palace) and I had made it down to the crit course to watch the finish and I thought to myself “Eder is too far back, he’s never going to make his way up to the front with Optum hitting it that hard” But they had 5 laps on that finishing circuit, and Eder managed to move up just a few spots each lap. From an average power point of view, this part of that race was not that difficult, as Eder averaged only around 300 watts ( 4.8 W/kg) on the finishing circuit, but this was the most “ jumpy” part of the race, with no fewer than a dozen 600+ watt neuromuscular type efforts required on those finishing laps. You should also keep in mind that this was the 4th day of racing, and over 3 hours into the stage. Just as in stage 2, Eder had accumulated 60+ minutes over 300 watts, and countless neuromuscular efforts. Coming out of the last corner, Eder had moved himself to 10th place or so, and finished it off with a finishing kick of just over 1000 watts that netted him 8th in the group sprint and 9th on the stage as Mancebo barely held off the group for the win.
Racing, as well as training, with a power meter is an excellent tool to help us determine exactly what is required to be a real player in a race like this. This information can help any rider, not just an elite rider, determine the precise needs of their race and then help them replicate those needs in training. Over the course of the 4 days, Eder did almost 10,000 Kj worth of work. He spent several hours at power outputs over 300 watts ( 4.8 w/kg), and did countless ( literally, I couldn’t count them all) neuromuscular efforts. If you aren’t prepared to mimic your race efforts in training, you are unlikely to ever find yourself one the first across the finish line. Eder’s smart training resulted in a couple of excellent results, but the data gathered during this race can help him be even better next time. Eder took a few days off to recover from Redlands, but is already back at work preparing for his next big race. Next time, we are shooting for the podium.
Sean Burke is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA.