Lydia Boylan's OVO Energy Women's Tour Power File Analysis - Stage 4

Stage 4 of the ‘OVO Women’s Tour’ took the riders on starting and finishing in Chesterfield! On paper with only two 2nd cat climbs this stage wasn’t the hardest however as any experienced racer knows – sometimes the amount of queen of the mountains doesn’t tell the whole picture! 

With 1912m of elevation stage 4 had by far and away more climbing than any other stage. When you consider that the stage was ‘only’ 125km compared with the roughly 150km stages thus far you start to get a sense of just how many climbs were packed into today’s stage. Lets see how this affected Lydia’s power file. 

If you have been following the race you will probably have seen from the results that today’s stage was more split up than any stage thus far. You will also see that the grupetto is much larger and much further down than on any other day. Lets have a look at the first hour of racing to illustrate why this was the case. 

We can see from the profile that the riders took in 4 serious climbs in the first hour of racing in addition to a number of other rises! This made for an incredibly hard first hour of racing. Lydia’s normalized power for the first hour was 236w. This represents 95% of her FTP power! Anyone that races with a power meter knows that it is a big effort when fresh to complete 1 hour at 95% of FTP power let alone after 3 hard days of racing!

Even more impressive is the section of figure 3 that is highlighted in red. In this 20-minute section of the race Lydia’s normalized power was 265w! That is 105% of her FTP power. Lydia has essentially completed a FTP test after 3 days of hard racing and after spending 35 minutes at 95% of threshold power, and yet still her normalized power was higher than her FTP power for 20 minutes!

 

One element of ability that often gets forgotten is an athlete’s ability to produce power when fatigued. Increasingly we hear of very high power numbers being banded around by riders and coaches and articles such as this. As impressive as some of these figures are, an often forgotten element of how well a rider performs is their ability to produce those same numbers when tired. This is an area we have seen Lydia improve upon massively over the last few years. Yes her power has increased but her ability to produce sustain similar power outputs when tired has increased even more.

 

It should be noted at this point that today Lydia finished in the grupetto, 19 minutes down from the leader. I think quite often as fans we think that the riders in grupetto have had a quite an easy day of it, essentially they have just ridden from the start to the finish. What I wanted to highlight in the analysis of today’s stage is just how much of a fallacy that is.

 

Just to finish the race today the riders such as Lydia who aren’t specialist climbers had to produce almost best ever performances after 3 hard days of racing just to stay with a group that was finishing 19 minutes behind the winner! There is no easy day in professional bike racing!

 

More evidence of just how hard professional bike racing is comes if we look at the remainder of the stage after the grupetto had formed.  

Figure 4 shows the stats from the moment the grupetto formed to the finish. You will see that Lydia had to ride at 73% of her FTP power for almost 3 hours. Now that might, in isolation, not seem too tough but if you think back to how you felt after your last FTP test, would you really have wanted to do another 3 hours of tempo work? How about if you had just done 3 very hard days beforehand?

 

When watching the performances of our favourite athletes on TV, simply because they make it look so easy and don’t show just how hard they are trying it is easy to forget just how much they are suffering.

 

I am often asked what is the difference between amateur and professional racing. For me the key difference is professional riders’ ability to repeatedly produce incredibly high power outputs even when highly fatigued.

 

Hopefully with this power analysis I have been able to show just how hard racing in the World Tour really is! 

Fig 1, Stage 4 of the OVO Energy Women's Tour

Fig, 2 Power File of Stage 4 of the ‘OVO Energy Women’s Tour’ 

Fig 4, Fig 4, Performance stats for the grupetto for the last 93.8km of stage 4 of the ‘OVO Energy Women’s Tour’ 

Fig 3, Lydia’s power file for the first hour of racing, the highlighted section represents her peak 20 min power output for the stage