Power Analysis: Giro d’Italia, stages 1-3

TrainingPeaks examines Rory Sutherland's power data from the first three days of the 2013 Giro d'Italia

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Australian Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Tinkoff) has shared his data from the first three stages of the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Sutherland is riding in support of team leader Rafal Majka, who will be looking to climb the ranks once the race turns to the big mountains of the three-week grand tour.

Stage 1: Naples, 130km

1. Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Elia Viviani, Cannondale
3. Nacer Bouhanni, FDJ
117. Rory Sutherland, Saxo-Tinkoff

See Sutherland’s full power data in TrainingPeaks.

The first few stages of a grand tour are always stressful, as nervous racers fight for position in a peloton of more than 200 riders, and the start to this year’s Giro d’Italia was no exception. For the first time in 10 years, the race started with a relatively flat road stage versus a prologue time trial, which resulted in a massive group contesting the sprint. That is, until a crash inside the final 3km shattered the field, leaving only about 12 riders in the lead group. Race favorite Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) lit the afterburners to take the win and don the pink jersey for stage 2.

Sutherland’s job during stage 1 was to stay safe and conserve energy for the long and demanding stages to come. He managed to stay tucked away in the bunch and avoided any mishaps, finishing with the main group. Despite it being an “easy” stage for Sutherland, he still averaged nearly 4 w/kg for the three-hour stage.

As is generally the case with a sprint finish, the last hour of the stage was the hardest and fastest. Sutherland hit his 60-minute peak power and speed during the final hour of racing.

60-minute Peak Power (also 60-minute Peak Speed)
320 Average Watts
4.2 w/kg
46.7 km
1151 KJ
67 Training Stress Score*
352 Normalized Power**
161 Average Heart Rate
89 Average Cadence

*Training Stress Score (TSS) quantifies the workload performed by a rider based on the duration and intensity of the effort. A 1-hour, all-out time trial effort would result in 100 TSS points.

**Normalized Power provides a better measure of the true physiological demands of an effort. It is an estimate of the power you could have maintained for the same physiological “cost” if your power output had been perfectly constant rather than variable.

Stage summary
129.1 km
3210 KJ
43.1 km/h Average Speed
186 TSS
339 NP
298 Average Watts
3.9 w/kg
152 Average Heart Rate
89 Average Cadence

Stage 2: Ischia to Forio (TTT), 17.4km

1. Sky
2. Movistar
3. Astana
15. Saxo-Tinkoff

Stage summary (Speed/distance sensor malfunction)
428 Average Watts
5.6 w/kg
17.4 km
585 KJ
45.8 km/h Average Speed
44 TSS
467 NP
172 Average Heart Rate
95 Average Cadence
1.09 VI

View Sutherland’s power data in TrainingPeaks.

The team time trial is a revered competition and one that seems to conjure either a love or hate sentiment from riders. Saxo-Tinkoff had its work cut out for itself and was up for the challenge, finishing the 17.4km course in 22:48 while averaging nearly 46 kph. The squad finished 43 seconds behind Team Sky, the fastest team of the day and arguably the best TTT squad in the world.

The challenging and technical course can been seen in Sutherland’s data. With a difference of 39 watts between his Normalized Power and Average Power, it is evident that the pace was anything but constant due to the climbs and tight corners. One way of looking at this is by assessing Sutherland’s Variability Index (VI), which is calculated by dividing Normalized Power by average power. The closer to 1 the VI is, the “smoother” the power output of the ride — professional time trial specialists will aim for a VI of less than 1.05, which indicates smooth and consistent pacing. Sutherland’s VI of 1.09 shows just how variable the effort was, making the team effort even more impressive.

Stage 3: Sorrento to Marina di Ascea, 222km

1. Luca Paolini, Katusha
2. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing
3. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Sharp
41. Rory Sutherland, Saxo-Tinkoff

View Sutherland’s power data in TrainingPeaks.

Stage summary (Speed/distance sensor malfunction)
295 Average Watts
3.9 w/kg
222 km
6123 KJ
383 TSS
350 NP
139 Average Heart Rate
86 Average Cadence

Saxo-Tinkoff rider Manuele Boaro spent much of the day in a breakaway, therefore giving Sutherland a chance to stay hidden in the peloton to conserve energy until it was time to protect Majka and keep him out of trouble on the technical descents that were marred with crashes. Although Majka lost 50 seconds on the stage, team director Dan Frost said the team is not concerned, as Majka’s strength will show in the final week of the race.

Sutherland burned over 6,000 kilojoules in the stage — he could’ve eaten 16 cups of spaghetti with meatballs to replenish his calories burned.

His 30-minute Peak Power was set on the final climb of the day, about five hours into the stage. During this effort, Sutherland average 412 watts (5.4 w/kg) as he cranked the pedals at 90 rpm. This 30-minute effort alone cost 740 calories. Think about that — in the time it might take most people to enjoy a heaping plate of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, a grand tour rider has already expended those calories on a single climb.

Editor’s note: Thanks to TrainingPeaks.com, we are looking at Saxo-Tinkoff rider Rory Sutherland’s power data from stages 1-3 of the Giro d’Italia. Today, Shawn Heidgen, a USA Cycling certified coach, former professional cyclist, and Education Specialist at TrainingPeaks, recaps Sutherland’s data from the one-day race. For more, follow Shawn on Twitter.

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