I picked this race the evening before as the coach had prescribed a "short and punchy" race as part of a double day, with some specifically "post race" intervals to be performed later in the day. A flat race is not my preferred parcours, but there were slim pickings in the window before work and not causing me to disrupt my sleep schedule dramatically!
For an early race like this I elected to just have a double shot espresso with a dash of maple syrup beforehand.
I usually perform a few glute activations before I start my "on the bike" warmup. This involves using a band around the lower quads and doing some body weight squats, and then some side steps (around 20 each side), finally some "knee up" and "knee backs" with the band on. The aim here is to "wake up" the glutes, as sitting at a desk all day for my office based job, these often go to sleep. For the "on the bike" warmup, I actually changed things up a bit for this race. I typically perform a fairly standard 10 minute progression (ramping the watts from z1->z4 incrementing by 15W every minute, then a break, then a 2 minute top end z5 effort, then a break, followed by 3 x 10s sprints. I've recently felt a little bit like I've "burned a match" during that warmup, so decided to give another "tried and tested" warmup a go.
To that end, I gave GPLamas Ultimate Warmup a try.
This is not so different from my usual warmup, but doesn't have the VO2max interval, and favours 5 neuromuscular efforts, rather than 3 sprint efforts.
I felt good during and after this warmup and ready to go for the race.
The race Full race streamed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWrXX3uuO4c&ab_channel=PhilRich
The usual burst at the start out of the pens to shed a few riders from the other categories, but things settled down within 30s and we were mostly low tempo for the first half of the lap.
As we made our way through the false flat on the switchbacks, the pace increased to around threshold for a couple of minutes. This again shelled a few riders, as did the little climb at the start of the esses. Found myself in a front group of 35 or so at the end of lap 1 (out of around 140 starters from all categories).
The second lap was more of the same, but the push through the switchbacks was more pronounced and I found myself a little further back than I would have liked here and had to push to close the gap back up. Nothing too crazy through the esses this time around and the front group was down to around 25 at the end of lap 2.
I expected the final lap to be the quickest, but this didn't seem to be the case. A Pro rider amongst our number was trying to animate things, and encourage us to do the same, but there didn't seem to be much appetite for this, so we carried on rolling on. Early on in the lap there was a solo breakaway from a rider, which a few others tried to follow, but were fairly quickly swallowed up by the pack. I think everyone assumed that the front runner would also get caught "at some point" and so there wasn't much of an acceleration (much to the annoyance of the pro in the field). Surprisingly, the pace through the switchbacks was probably the slowest of the three laps as I think everyone else was settling for a bunch sprint.
As we got to the punch at the start of the esses it was definitely the most pacey of the 3 laps as the non sprinters tried to shell as many riders as possible before the last kilometer. I had to push pretty hard here over he top of the rise to ensure I was in the biggest group for the last part of the race.
Two other riders did manage to stay away here, but would not be able to catch the lone runaway winner.
As we came to the finishing straight I was feeling the efforts of that punchy climb and the required push thereafter a bit, and this definitely affected my finish. I felt like I started the sprint around a second or so too late and let the other riders in the bunch get too much of a head start. Also, I was definitely in too tough a gear for the sprint, and never really got on top of it, which really stunted my peak power. So a couple of lessons learned there.
I maintained my position from the image above over he line and took 14th in the race. This was 10th on ZwiftPower once all of he processing had been done. Not terrible for a flat race, but certainly nothing spectacular!
Post race thoughts
Apart from the aforementioned poor sprint, the main thing that stood out for me from the race (and was noted by Guus in the live stream chat after the race) was how high my average power for the race was compared to those around me. It can be seen from the image above, but is perhaps more clear in a couple of graphs from ZwiftPower: -
As we can see here, for the highlighted 10 minute period (and essentially for anything over 3 minutes) I was putting out higher power to weight than those around me. Maybe not by huge amounts to some, but 0.85W/kg to some others in the group. Clearly on a flat course, this may be skewed by riders who are heavier than me, so I looked at the same graph for raw Watts. Clearly not as pronounced as the W/kg graph, but does still question whether I could be working less in the pack on the flats...
I certainly feel that sometimes I could afford to be a little further back in the pack until we get to a genuine pinch point in the race. I'll be trying this a bit more moving forward.
Since drafting this article, it looks like the "breakaway winner", and indeed the rider who chose to chase him were DQ'd (presumably for power anomalies), so we were actually "sprinting" (definitely my own definition of it here) for the win.
This is pleasing, and I definitely think throwing in a flat race like this from time to time is good to keep yourself a bit more rounded as a rider. It also isn't too strenuous from a TSS perspective, so can be incorporated as a double day in theory.
I am writing this with my feet up having completed the final race of the DBR SufferDay League II series this morning. There will be a longer race report article in the coming days with my thoughts on this series and what I have learned about myself as a "racer" and how my recent training has affected the races in this series and vice versa. Until next time!