ATOC Power: Analysis of Rory Sutherland’s stage 5 power data

Frank Overton analyzes Rory Sutherland's power data from stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California.

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Stage 5: Seaside to Paso Robles
Distance: 223.6km (138.9 miles)
Winning time: 5:16:03
Athlete: Rory Sutherland, UnitedHealthcare, 20th place, same time

At over five hours, stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California was a long and moderately difficult day. Racing 139 miles over two category 4 climbs and several more uncategorized climbs is going to smart no matter which way you cut it. From Rory Sutherland’s Twitter feed: “That was a hard old 220km stage. Wind, climbs, heat (finally!!!).” By the numbers, Sutherland did 4,992 kilojoules and averaged 263 watts or 322 watts normalized. His intensity factor was 0.78, meaning Sutherland rode at 78% of the Functional Threshold Power or Tempo wattage. The kicker was that the stage lasted over 5 hours, giving Rory a training stress score (TSS) of 322.

General Classification Power versus Breakaway Power:

There were no mega-power outputs to speak of nor unworldly power-to-weight ratios from Rory’s data. Given the terrain and the important time trial on Friday, the GC contenders were content to call a temporary truce and conserve as much energy as possible. In other words, make as little power as possible in stage 5 so they can make as much power as possible during stage 6. With that said, Sutherland still had to pedal 138.9 miles and be attentive at the front of the field to make sure he finished with the same time as Horner, Leipheimer, Schleck and other GC competitors.

Unlike stages 2 and 3 where the greatest power outputs occurred at the end of the stage, Rory made his greatest power at the beginning of the stage being attentive to any dangerous GC moves going up the road without him. In the first 20 minutes of the race, Sutherland did 444 watts normalized or 5.8 watts/kg. Based on Sutherland’s 6.3 w/kg for a similar duration up Sierra Road the day before, this 5.8 w/kg was hard but not full gas, and Sutherland had it under control.

On the other hand, second-year pro and first-time Tour of California rider, Jim Stemper of the Kenda 5-hour Energy Team was trying to get into a breakaway and similarly made 404 watts or 5.8 watts/kilogram. The only problem was that 5.8 watts/kg was well north of Stemper’s Functional Threshold Power (375 watts) and he paid for it the next 100 miles (Stemper was in the break during stage 4 as well). Therefore what is easy for one rider is really hard for another rider, even though they both remained in the peloton.

Friday’s time trial is a big day. Until we can see Sutherland’s file from stage 6, you can view his previous interactive race file with the Training Peaks File viewer.

Power file analysis by Frank Overton, owner of the FasCat Performance Cycling Center in Boulder, Colorado. Overton is analyzing daily Amgen Tour of California race data for VeloNews this week.

Kenda's Stemper and UnitedHealthcare's Sutherland had different experiences on stage 5. Although their early power outputs were identical, Stemper was in a little over his head, judging by his lower functional threshold power.

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