It was great to see GCCS riders Mike and Hamish come away with wins at Heffron Park this weekend. With Mike’s permission, I've done a quick analysis of his race data to help uncover what it takes to snare top spot on the B Grade podium.
B Grade completed 16 laps of the 2km circuit, with Mike covering 32.2 km at an average of 38.2 kph. Lap 14 was his slowest @ 3:27, while his final lap was the fastest at 2:56. The majority of laps for B Grade took between 3:05 and 3:15. As a comparison, A Grade averaged 3:01 for 18 laps, while C Grade (Hamish) averaged 3:30 for 14 laps.
At club level, if the field is relatively together, it’s not uncommon for the pace to drop two or three laps from the end while everyone grabs a little respite for the anticipated sprint. This was the case on Saturday where laps 12 – 15 were among the slowest. However, this is not reflected to the same degree in Mike’s average power, which indicates he was doing a sizeable share of the work during the business end of the race.
In all but one lap, Mike’ peak power was in excess of 600 watts, and above 700 watts on 10 of the 16 laps. The wind is a huge factor at Heffron, and on Saturday Mike’s peaks regularly occurred as he pumped out the sharp right corner near the netball courts. On most laps this was closely followed by another slightly lower, but longer peak as he came around the corner onto the straight.
There are many variables that can influence how a criterium plays out, but from the data I have seen, peak lap power for a B Grade race at Heffron tends to be in the 700 – 880 watt range, while C Grade is often 500 – 600 watts and D Grade 300 – 400 watts. In crit racing, it is the ability to repeatedly hit these short power bursts that is critical. Beyond FTP, it is often a rider’s 10 – 30 second max average power that limits their progression.
Wind direction at Heffron can greatly influence where peak power outputs take place. For example, sometimes I see riders’ peak lap power occurring on the second hump on the back of the circuit, while the next race it will be on the front straight. Reading the conditions and knowing when to apply your power is key to being successful on a course like Heffron.
On the main straight, Mike’s average speed was consistently between 40 – 45 kph for around 30 seconds. However, his average power for this section varied greatly, which would indicate different positioning within the field on each lap. Although the second and third last laps were slower overall, Mike averaged over 290W for 30 seconds as he worked along the straight.
Mike’s peak power for the entire race was recorded during his final sprint. He started relatively early, building out of the final corner from 650 watts. He jumped quickly to 900 watts which he was able to hold for almost 15 seconds, with a peak of 958 watts.
In his sprint, Mike reached a top speed of 59 kph at 103 rpm while generating 670 – 730 watts. Note his peak power occurred at 90 rpm and 50 kph while he accelerated and got on top of his gearing.
I coach several B Grade riders who possess sprints in excess of 1300 watts, however it was Mike’s ability to hold a relative high power over a long time that was key to his win. His tactics throughout the race also helped to ensure the field was left with less energy to challenge him at the finish.
Well done Mike and thanks again sharing your data.