In this article Trevor Court and Dr Carol Austin are going to take a closer look at Jacques Janse van Rensburg‘s effort during the Vuelta 2016 opening stage, the Team Time Trial (TTT) from Balneario de Laias to Castrelo de Miño.
What were the challenges of the TTT course?
This 27.8km course was rolling with a total elevation gain of 278m. The race started out with a 1.35km/4.4% grade climb. The terrain then rolled through to km 14 where the riders descended into a valley. The gradient kicked up again from km 22, and the final 6.4km included a 2km/3.1% grade climb followed by a final 500m/4.5% grade kick, before descending to the finish. The early evening conditions were tranquil, with the temperature at a mild 22C.
What was the plan for the TTT?
The plan was to go as fast as possible, and not finish with 9 riders. We had a few guys who would sacrifice themselves for the team; Nic Dougall, Jaco Venter, Tyler Farrar, and Kristian Sbaragli. They did longer and harder pulls in the first 20km.
How did the team’s plan work out?
It worked out well. We went out a steady pace and picked it up after about 5km. We went at such a pace that everyone was on the limit. The team went into the final 6km at speed and at around 5km to go, as planned, lost those 4 riders who had been doing more work in the earlier parts of the race. We did the best time we could have done, with the preparation we had.
How did Jacques feel about his ride and efforts?
I felt really good. After being in Vuelta Burgos, I spent some time on the time trial bike, adjusting my position a bit, doing the Time Trial recon 3 days before the race and then again. I was really comfortable on my bike. I had good power, like in San Sebastian and Vuelta Burgos. The motorpacing I’ve been doing helped to give me that extra edge. In a TTT you have to roll through, so good motor pacing is really good and a relevant training to do for a TTT. It gives you that feeling of going really hard for 30-60sec, and having to fight to get back on the wheel. So yes, I felt quite good today.
How did the team perform?
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka finished 15th in 31:54, +1:17 behind the Team Sky, the stage winners.
Data File Highlights
- Complete: 27.6km TTT
- Ave Speed: 51.6kph
- Ave Power: 338W
- Normalized Power: 367W…as difference of 29W (+9%) highlighting the “on/off” efforts in a TTT
- Ave Cadence: 103rpm
- Energy Expenditure: 649 calories
Figure 1: Training Peaks display of Jacques Rotor 2IN data file from Stage 1 Vuelta 2016
Figure 2 shows his summary data for the key sections of the race, for average speed, power and cadence. The speed varied significantly with changes in terrain. A max speed of 74kph was recorded. The power fluctuated with the terrain of the course. Jacques produced high power bursts (3min and 40sec) in the final 5km of the race, as he drove hard to the finish line with his team mates.
Jacques maintained a very steady rhythm of around 100rpm throughout this 27.8km TTT, despite the significant changes in the terrain, speed and power. Maintenance of a steady high cadence and rhythm is a key skill required for an efficient ITT and TTT as is clearly demonstrated here.
Figure 2: Summary data for speed, power and cadence in different sections of the race