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Exergy Stage 3: Alison Powers' File Analysis

Alison Powers is currently leading the NRC (National Race Series), meaning she is the number 1 ranked female road cyclist in the country.

The 58 mile queen stage started in the town of Crouch, about an hour north of Boise, and finished in the mining town of Idaho City. The stage featured one intermediate sprint at 11.25 miles, two QOM climbs at 33.75 and 45 miles, and a 13 mile descent to the finish. Even with 2 QOMs and just over 4500 feet of climbing, early predictions were still calling for a sprint finish and they were not wrong. German sprinter Ina Yoko-Tuetenberg (Specialized-lululemon) won the stage out of a main group of 35 riders, which included American Alison Powers (NOW) who came in 8th place. Alison was gracious enough to provide TrainingPeaks with her race file, and we were able to analyze this exciting event from an inside perspective.

The general summary of Alison's file from the stage is quite impressive; she maintained an average power output of 236 watts (84% of threshold) for 2 hours 34 min, covering 59.39 miles with an average speed of 23.08 mph. In other words, she had a big day in the saddle. Her normalized power for the race was 273 watts - meaning Alison could have maintained 273 watts for the same physiological "cost" if her power output had been perfectly constant, rather than variable. Her total Training Stress Score (TSS) was 244 - a measure of total fatigue and effort during a race or training. To put this figure in perspective, a TSS score of 100 means the rider spent 1 hour of riding at his or her functional threshold.

You can tell from this file that this was a hard stage marked with aggressive racing. The file begins with a 45 min warm-up so the race actually starts at 46:16 on the file. She started her maximum 5 minute push at the 40 minute mark (1:25 into the race file) which was around the start of the first small climb . Alison’s 20 minute peak power output occurred about an hour into the race (1:50 into the race file), where Alison was able to hold 287 watts while trying to catch a break of 6 riders charging the first QOM climb, Beaver Creek Summit. The six breakaway riders built an ultimate gap of just 45 seconds as teams Now and Novartis for MS - which had missed the move - worked hard to close the gap before the summit. Another small break was briefly formed on the way to the top of the second and final QOM, but was quickly chased down by the main group. This chase can be seen in Alison’s race file (at 2:45) when she hit her 12 minute peak power, pushing 292 watts to reach Mores Creek Summit. At the start of the descent, the whole group was in a sprint to the finish. Allison saved her best 1 minute effort for the end, cranking at 434 watts to take the 8th spot at the finish line (3:19 into file) - It’s quite impressive for a racer to hit her VO2 max at the end of a two and half hour stage with 4500 feet of climbing.

Stage Summary By The Numbers:

Alison Powers
5’10”, 150 pounds (68.18 kg)
Threshold power: 280 W, 4.1 w/kg
Training Stress Score: 244 TSS
Energy: 2186 kj
Average Cadence: 92 rpm
Max Cadence: 141 rpm
Average Watts: 236 W
Normalized Power: 273 W
Max Watts: 929 W
Peak 1 min: 424 W (last minute of race)
Peak 5 min: 326 W
Peak 20 min: 287 W


For more race reports and analysis of race files, see here.  

Shawn Heidgen has been involved in cycling for over 20 years. She raced professionally for three years during which she completed 2 Giro D'Italia Donne (Women's Tour of Italy ) and competed on the National Race Calendar circuit.  Shawn has also coached cyclists of all abilities for many years, and has led and directed training camps all over the world. Shawn also has a unique history, as a former Chronic Pain Patient at the Mayo Clinic (before racing professionally), she overcame what should have been a career ending hip fracture and went on to race professionally. Follow Shawn on twitter @SHeidgen.

Reader Comments (3)

Thank you for featuring a female pro.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSydney

I would love to see heart rate included on this chart. I just did 102 miles and 65 miles rides on two consecutive days and my heart rate dropped in second half of the ride. (it was not technically a race, but MS150 ride). Since I do not have a power meter - I am not sure if that drop is normal or not?

I posted my charts here:

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoman K.

Hi Roman,
I agree! Heart rate would've been great to see/analyze as well the rider didn't wear a heart rate monitor strap on that day, so we didn't have HR data. Hopefully, the next ones will! Heart rate is such an individual and unique metric that the best thing to do is to gather historical data and over time note your own trends and abnormalities. Did your RPE drop as well on the second half of the ride? Did the pack thin out, and overall mental stress lessen in the second half of the ride? There are many factors that could contribute to the drop, including something like a tailwind. You may want to look into "Aerobic decoupling" although this usually shows either HR increasing or power output decreasing in the latter part of a ride, it is another way to measure aerobic fitness. You can find out more information here:,-by-joe-friel.aspx

Thanks for reading!

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn Heidgen

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