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Power Analysis: Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge 2012

The Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge used the same streets and finish line as the end of the men's Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen, Colorado. The 1-km fast, four-corner course made for exciting racing. More than 40 women from around the country lined up including full squads from NOW and Novartis for MS, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, and recent Olympic silver medalist Lauren Tamayo for Exergy.

The race was similar to what we observed in men's USA Pro Challenge, fast and aggressive from the gun. The race favorites wasted no time in decreasing the size of the field, dropping several riders. Although attack after attack was launched, no one was able to stay away for long and the race ended up in a 25-rider bunch sprint to the line. Race winner Jade Wilcoxson (OPTUM-Kelly Benefit Strategies) used her powerful and explosive sprint to take all 3 intermediate sprints as well as the final dash to the line. Local favorite and top American pro Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS) launched a massive attack with one lap to go, stringing out the field and holding off all but Wilcoxson to take 2nd. 

Stage Results
 1.  Jade WILCOXSON, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, in 58:31
 2.  Alison POWERS, Now And Novartis For MS, at 58:32
 3.  Leah KIRCHMANN, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, at 58:32 
13. Robin FARINA, Now And Novartis For Ms, at 58:37
34. Tayler WILES, Exergy Twenty12, at 1:01:24

Stage Highlights

Jade Wilcoxson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies)
See full activity in TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer:

167 TSS
809 KJ
231 Average Watts
263 Normalized Power (NP)
978 Max Watts
168 Average Heart Rate
94 Average Cadence
27 mph (43.2 kph) Average Speed

  • Sprints, Sprints and more Sprints! Wilcoxson won all 3 intermediate sprints as well as the race. There are 5 significant sprints marked in the race file during which Wilcoxson hits and holds wattage numbers repeatedly that most fit men would struggle to hit once, let alone several times throughout a ride: 
    • At 0:12:13, an eight second sprint of 720W (11.5 w/kg), where Wilcoxson maxed out at 834W
    • At 0:31:33, a 10-second sprint of 743W (11.9 w/kg), where Wilcoxson maxed out at 978W
    • At 0:43:18, a nine second sprint of 684W 10.9 w/kg), where Wilcoxson maxed out at 807W
    • She covers Powers’ attack with one lap to go and stays on her wheel until the final sprint: 5 seconds, 735W 11.7 w/kg), 902 Max Watts
    • Final sprint across the line: 14 seconds, 520W (8.3 w/kg), 775 Max Watts
  • Wilcoxson expended 809 KJ (roughly the same amount of calories) in just under one hour! Most people riding at a “moderate pace” (12-13.9 mph) would expend approximately 450-600 calories
  • This was a fast and aggressive race: you can see 25 efforts of over 400 Watts.

Alison Powers (Now And Novartis For MS)
See full activity in TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer: 

116 TSS
272 Average Watts
308 NP
946 Max Watts
94 Average Cadence
26.7 mph (42.7 kph) Average speed

  • Powers is a world class time trialer, so her tactic was to attack before the sprint and try to hold off the chase for the win. She came very close to winning, holding off all but Wilcoxson to take 2nd place. You can see her attack with one lap to go, and then an all-out effort throughout the entire last lap. 
  • Her attack going into the last lap: 9 seconds, 705W, 946 Max Watts, 31.5 mph. Followed by her final lap effort: 1:25, 473W (7.1 w/kg) , 946 Max Watts, 31 mph (49.6 kph) Average speed, 37.5 mph (60 kph) Max Speed - on flat ground! Wilcoxson jumped on her wheel and came around her in the final sprint.
  • Off the front solo: About 45 minutes into the race, Powers attacked and went off the front solo for a little over 5 min. The initial attack hit 765W and she averaged 303W for about five and a half minutes before getting caught. The interesting thing about the move is that once she put in her initial jump, she settled into a more steady effort compared to the rest of the race. Being off the front alone allowed Powers to maintain a higher but more steady pace than riding in the pack - similar to a time trial effort where Powers excels.

Robin Farina (NOW and Novartis for MS)
See full activity in TrainingPeaks Activity Viewer:  

707 KJ
83 TSS
238 Average Watts
262 NP
928 Max Watts
91 Average Cadence
26.7 mph (42.7 kph) Average Speed

  • Farina excels in winning from small breakaways, and as a domestique riding in support of GC contenders and sprinters. So, her file shows that she was very active throughout the race either covering or initiating attacks trying to get in a break and also riding in support of Powers, who finished 2nd. 
  • She hits her 30-minute Peak Power of 214W (3.6 w/kg) in the middle of the race, using up her power trying to get away and to also soften up the sprinters for Powers. During this time, she covered 13.4 miles at 26.7 mph (42.7 kph) - exceeding the motor vehicle speed limit within Aspen city limits of 25 mph.
  • Farina demonstrates her ability to launch and cover attack after attack. While maintaining an average power of 238W (4.0 w/kg), she manages to hit 400W (6.8 w/kg) or more an astonishing 27 times! 

 For more race action, check out our race files and stage analysis of the USA Pro Challenge

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. 

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    Response: menorca vakantie
    Power Analysis: Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge 2012 - Posts - TrainingPeaks Blog

Reader Comments (3)

This looks like quite an endurance sport!
Really like the reporting that your application provides for Jade Wilsoncox!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Interesting that Jade averaged 231 watts and won the race whereas Allison averaged 272 watts and came in second, but with a big difference in NP. Can you explain?

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobbieBobbie

Hi Robbie,
Thanks for the comment. Actually both women had signifcant differences in Average Watts vs NP (Normalized Power) indicating the highly variable efforts of both racers during the race. Remember that watts are all relative to the rider. The difference is in how much each rider weighs, so looking at the w/kg is a better reference instead of just comparing watts. For example if you weigh 200 pounds or 100 pounds, a 300 watt effort is considerably different between the two. Also, it's not always the stronger rider that wins the race. Just because you put out more watts doesn't guarantee victory. If another rider uses their watts in a smarter or more efficient manner, they can beat a rider who is working harder or generating more watts or w/kg. For example, Wilcoxson was sitting on Powers wheel the last lap, saving energy in the draft and not working as hard as Powers. Thus she saved her energy to come around Powers in the final sprint. I hope that explains the data and results. Thanks for reading!

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn Heidgen

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