SRM Training Data: Daniel Teklehaimanot’s La Vuelta stage 17

On Wednesday 10 September, John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) took his fourth stage victory of La Vuelta 2014 in 04:26:07 in A Coruña.

He beat Michael Matthews (Orica-Grenedge) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) in a chaotic sprint following a technical run to the finish line.

Although Stage 17 was marked as a sprinter’s stage, Team MTN-Qhubeka believed there was a realistic chance of a break making it to the finish line. The 191km route rolled along the western Spainish coastline from Ortigueira to A Coruña. With a total ascent of 2820m and the prospect of  strong coastal cross winds it was a day for the strong men. Daniel Teklahaimot was selected as the athlete most suited for the job.

Watch the official stage highlights (3min) here

Inside the opening twenty kilometres, a five-man break went clear. Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka),  Dennis (BMC) , Favilli (Lampre-Merida), Jungels (Trek) and Mas (Caja Rural) quickly established a robust lead. The break worked hard together and at times stretched their advantage to over 4 minutes. At around 20km to go Mas dropped from the break, but Teklahaminot remained steadfastly commited until 9km to go when the break’s advantage was reduced to 40 seconds. At that point he accepted the inevitable closure and backed off his efforts. He was finally absorbed into the peloton with 5km to go at which point he focused his efforts on positioning and protecting his teammate Pardilla (placed 19th on GC).

Summary Data:

Time = 4:27:40

Average Power = 312W

Normalized Power (NP) = 349W

Average Cadence = 86rpm

Average Speed = 42kph

Energy Expenditure = 5004kJ

TSS = 357

Fig 1: Daniel Teklahaimanot Vuelta Espana Stg 17 Ortigueira – A Coruña 191km

Fig 1 Daniel Teklahaimanot Stage 17 Vuelta Espana 2014-page-0

Daniel’s  SRM Training Systems file shows that high demands of racing in this break. The sprinter’s teams were set on bringing the race to a mass sprint finish and was never allowed the break’s advantage  to extend much beyond 4-minutes. Daniel averaged 312W (NP 349W) for 4.5hrs of racing, expending over 5000 Calories of energy. His TSS value of 357 reflects an effort equivalent to a 3.5-hour time trial performed at his 1-hour threshold power. Ouch!

Fig 2: Daniel Teklahaimanot Vuelta Espana Stg 17 – Distribution Graph

Fig 2 Daniel Teklahaimanot Stage 17 Vuelta Espana 2014-page-0

This distribution graph shows that while Daniel’s average power was 312 W, he was riding in the 320-400W zone predominantly. Further data analysis shows that for 41% (approximately 1:45hr) of the race he was producing powers of 360W or higher i.e.  >  5W/kg,.

The True Cost of a Break

To better understand the comparative demands of racing in the break in we compared Daniel’s  SRM data to that of Jaco Venter, a teammate of similar height and weight,  who rode in the peloton for the day.

Table 1: Vuelta Espana Stage 17 –Daniel Tekalahaimanot vs. Jaco Venter

Vuelta Espana Stage 17: Ortigueira – A Coruña

Daniel

Jaco

% Difference

Time (hh:mm:ss)

04:27:40

04:26:29

+0%

Average Power (W)

312

241

+29%

Time Power >5W/kg

01:48:20

01:14:30

+45%

% of Race spent at  Power >5W/kg

41

24

+71%

% of Race spent Coasting or Soft Pedalling (<40rpm)

8.4

19.5

-57%

Energy Expenditure (kJ)

5004

3850

+30%

Despite both athletes finishing the 191km stage in a similar time, Daniel’s day in the break was significantly tougher and more physiologically “costly” as he:

– maintained a 30% higher average power

– spent 45% more time in the “threshold and above power zone” (>5W/kg)

– spent 57% less time coasting and soft pedalling i.e. recovering

– expended 30% more energy

The Bottom Line

 Committing to a break on Day 17 of a grand tour is not for the faint-hearted, tired or weak . It is a risky and costly endeavour for the robust, tough and self-confident. Daniel Teklahaimanot was definitely our man for this moment.

“I am happy with my performance of today even though we couldn’t make it to the finish,” said Daniel.

 “He is an athlete that epitimizes the saying, ‘Pain today. Strength tomorrow’ ” says Dr Carol Austin. “I am delighted with his progress and contribution to our team this season. In the Vuelta he has showed us his true strength, depth and character. Chapeau Daniel!”

Dr. Carol Austin is the Director of Heath and Performance at Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. She is a medical doctor and endurance sports coach committed to inspiring and developing African talent to achieve world-class performances. Carol has lead the team MTN-Qhubeka’s sports science and medical team since 2008. Follow on Twitter: @DrCarolAustin1

Trevor Court is a Coach at Team MTN-Qhubeka. He is an Exercise Science honors graduate and has been working with the team since 2011. During the cycling season he based in Lucca, Italy at Team MTN-Qhubeka’s Service Course. His passion is education; to help athletes understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. Follow on Twitter: @trevor_court 

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