Could this power profiles research help plan the Irish cycling race calendar
Jamie Blanchfield of Premier Endurance Coaching has written an excellent blog on some research he has been doing. He has gathered some power profiles of cyclists who participate across the various cycling Ireland road race categories.
Jamie Blanchfield is the owner of Premiere Endurance Coaching which caters for cyclists triathletes and other sports. He has a Degree in Sports Science and Coaching from WIT.
In my opinion this type of coach with excellent education in the science of coaching and sports science along with experience and passion for the sport is probably the way forward for Irish Cycling coaching.
This is an ongoing study that any eligible Irish Cyclist can Contribute to by contacting Jamie at his website.
Could the data Guide Race organisers?
After reading the blog I wondered could the data help the Race Organizers and Cycling Ireland Calender commission refine the race programmes and possibly make changes to how cyclists are categorised to cater really well for all cyclists.
There is a huge amount of experience within the calendar commission and most race organizers are very experienced in organizing competitive races for the various categories.
However this data could reinforce whats already being done very well, or identify areas where some changes could benefit everyone.
Theres a section from the Premier Endurance blog below.
How did we collect the data?
Data was collected via Google forms where participants were asked anonymously to submit their category, gender, weight, and power meter make and model along with peak power outputs over various durations.
What durations did we choose?
For this data analysis project, we chose peak power, 5 and 30 second power along with 1-, 5-, 20- and 60-minute power outputs. These are easily captured data points within various training software(s) and also allowed us to gain an insight into sprint power and a short and long duration time trial to determine critical power (CP) (more on that later).
Overall, 68 (n=68) individual male responses were selected for analysis (A4 n=14, A3 n=25, A2 n=10, A1 n=19). Unfortunately, only 5 female responses were collected through varying categories meaning we could not draw meaningful comparison here. You can view a full makeup of participants in table 1 below.
Table 1: Participant Details
|Category||A4 (n=14)||A3 (n=25)||A2 (n=10)||A1 (n=19)|
What were the results?
As with anything a bigger data set generally gives us a better indicator of what’s going on with something! When we look back at our 2018 data piece we could argue that there has been improvement across the board but with the sample being so small that’s a conclusion I’m not willing to make!
What we can see however, is the relative power outlined in table 2 below. To get your absolute power from this table simply multiply the w/kg figure by your current weight. Metrics are given plus or minus one standard deviation (±SD).
Table 2: Breakdown of Results, Critical Power (CP), Anaerobic Power Reserve (APR).
Results, Discussion & Terminology
As a whole the submitted data followed a logical progression through categories, i.e., as you went higher in category (A4 to A1) the numbers got bigger! The largest ability gap seemed to be that of the jump from A3 to A2 which we can see by the difference in CP of 16% between groups.”
End of Section from Premier Endurance Blog
How can this lead race categories organisation
The big difference between the watts of some of the categories suggest that there could be a case made for some cyclists having a choice as to which category they move to or remain in.
If someone is limited with training time and ambition and wish to remain A3 or A2 could it be possible to do so?
I hear people say sure that will be exploited by pot hunters. Maybe so but for someone who chooses to remain in a category the big races in the the category or the one above could be off limits. This will allow the ambitious ones to move on and people with limited training time to remain in a particular category.
So great races like the Easter stage races might not be possible for the ones who decide to remain A3 for example.
The difference in Watts between some of the categories also suggest that on hilly courses the lower categories haven’t much of a hope of competing.
On difficult / hilly circuits most aA3 cyclists will struggle with A2 Cyclists, most A 2s will struggle with the good A1 cyclists..
Theres not so much learning to be had if dropped early in a race and then spending the rest of the race going along a country road listening to the birds whistling. Or if the race is on a circuit packing as you cycle past the finish / changing rooms.
Flat, undulating courses
On flat or undulating courses the lower categories could be somewhat competitive against the higher Category. The beauty of cycling is that aerodynamics play a huge part and will advantage the cyclist who saves energy by getting shelter in the group.
This will mean the lower category cyclists need to develop good skills to get lots of shelter in groups where the same watts are not required as cycling on the front.
Benefits of mixing the categories on suitable circuits
The lower category cyclists can learn a lot from racing with the higher category in this situation. There are opportunities to learn skills like, warming up and cooling down, positioning in the groups, cornering, how to attack, how to organise a chase to name a few.
More cyclists are likely to remain in the sport if their racing experience is a positive one rather than getting dropped early in races.
The race organisers know their races better than anyone and the Premiere Endurance statistics might be a further help in deciding the race day programme.
For any queries on this research or to volunteer your data Jamie Blanchfleld can be contacted at Premiere Endurance Coaching