Taiwan National Race Series: Round #7
Despite the qualification race for Tour de Taiwan being held in Taizhong at the same time, there was still a very good turn out of racers in the Elite category with Columbus, Cineli-Ritchey, Giant, Champion Systems all represented. About 100 riders lined up in considerably colder conditions than the race held two weeks previously in Dajia. This was also the last major race of the year as the season winds down for 2009.
My race strategy was to conserve as much as I can before the 17km climb at the end. I knew that if I burnt too many matches during the flat/rolling coastal section (48kms), I would not finish strongly on the climb. I needed to curb my natural attacking instinct, even when I saw good opportunities and concentrate hiding as much as I could from the prevailing winds blowing in from the Pacific Ocean.
There was a neutral section that went for a couple of kilometers before the flag was dropped right after emerging from the tunnel. A flurry of attacks went and I was up near the front just following wheels and found myself in an early split but again there was no organization to make the advantage work. It was back together again. There was a number of agressive riders trying to establish breakaways, including Columbus, Champion Systems, and Giant but none would stick. It was interesting watching the Taiwanese riders chase hard to bring back breaks but then sit up each time the break was caught. The pace of the race, after the half-way turn around point, slowed considerably and I had to exercise restraint and just coast in the pack. Conserving my energy. However, I did one thing that was against my plan and this was when the pace was going about 30km/h when I did a "fake attack". My intention here was two-fold: 1) to see what would happen, and 2) to Rev up the pace. I was positioned about 10 riders back and launched my attack, it was not one of my usual power attacks but it was still enough to jump clear of the peloton quite easily and then I kept riding at a solid tempo. I checked on the progress behind me, sure enough a couple of riders had made the jump with me but the rest of the pack was also chasing. So after riding at 45km/h for just over a minute, I sat up with both my objectives achieved. I had succeeded in revving the pace up and I saw that no-one was going to be let go easily. The pace stayed high for a while and about 5km from the turn-off for the mountain climb, the peloton started slowing again and a couple of riders attacked a established a good margin. Most of the racers were thinking about the climb that was looming and focusing on conserving energy.
Yangming Mountain Climb - 18kms
I had achieved my objective of conserving myself in the lead up to the climb for the most part, except the fake attack I decided to try mid-race. The average speed for the 48kms was 39km/h and my power average from the Cycleops CPU was just 184watts. So I felt ready to tackle the climb. Initially, I focused on following wheels and staying near the top 10 in the bunch. Once the incline became considerably steeper (about 3-4kms in) some of the key riders started going harder and splits started happening quickly. I bridged myself across to the lead group following a rider from Champion System but I was quickly in the upper-limit of my red-zone and could only watch as the eventual winner bridge up to the group of four and ride away with the race. I found good rhythm to climb with the second group of six riders including Spanish rider Inigo from the Cinelli-Ritchey Team. However, just after the half-way point of the climb I was caught behind two riders that got gapped from the group and I kept going steady in the hopes of bringing them back. They hovered around 30 seconds for the rest of the race duration and I was climbing with Inigo and a Columbus rider who was not much help at all with his surging back and forth. I think he was concerned with trying to get away rather than work with us to bring back the group up the road.
We were climbing pretty quickly - 23km/h, a good 6km/h faster than my training ride up the same climb which can be read here: Epic Training Ride with Power. It was a gradual climb of about 4-6% with a couple of steeper pitches, especially the section where the winning selection was made. I was focused on keeping a good steady ride up and keeping a good cadence level (avg'd 80rpm for the climb). About 3-4kms from the top, the three of us were caught by three more riders who immediately tried to surge past us on the inside opposite side of the road. But we kept them in check. The climb finished with a very steep 500metre dash to the finish-line. After surging several times over the last 2kms in response to attacks by other riders, I found myself leading the group to the turn. I then started sprinting up the steepest section (500m out) and immediately put a couple of bike lengths on my rivals. However, my left lower calf muscle seized up with cramp. This forced me to sit down and try and spin the rest of the way - controlling the cramp. I was passed by two riders when I got the cramp, but I held on to finish 10th overall (last paying spot!) and 4th in the Elite 30 category. It was quite a bit cooler at the top of Yangming Mountain (a chilly 10 degrees!). Luckily I was wearing my long-sleeved Skins as it helped keep the cold wind out and keep me warm longer. After sipping hot Chinese tea with ginger and a hot coffee, I made the long descent back down to sea-level.
Overall, I was satisfied with my performance and felt that my preparations prior the race and race strategy was almost spot-on.
Since re-starting my training 4 weeks ago and stepping it up another level in the 2 weeks after the Giant Cup Race focusing on climbing really paid divendends for this race. Training consistently and with specificity is the key to improvements.
I also felt that my race day nutrition played a big factor in my performance. Below is a summary of what I consumed since rising at 5.30am:
- 700mls of USANA Nutrimeal shake mixed with Peach/Mango Fibernergy
- USANA Essentials, 4 x Proflavonal 90 - grapeseed extract, Biomega Fish-oils and extra Active Calcium (I also took extra Active Calcium the night before)
- 1 x banana
- 600mls of REV 3 surge
- 1 x cup of hot Thai Tea
- 1 x USANA Oatmeal Raisin Nutrition Bar (consumed 30minutes before the race start)
- 2 x 600ml bottles of REV 3 Surge
- 1 x Hammer Gel (just before the climb)
Avg speed: 23.1km
Avg cadence: 80rpm
Avg power: 330watts
Peak power: 1040watts
Time: 46 mins 20 seconds
I had also achieved my second best CP30 for the year with 344watts. Previous best was back in a race in Texas where I did 348watts for 30minutes. I am looking to build on my fitness with some more solid training, trying out a new 31 day program designed to increase my CP20 output. I have been using Training Peaks to track my data over time. I'm hoping to find a team to ride with for the Tour of South China Seas (Dec 27th-Jan3rd) which is a multi-day cycling race that starts in Hong Kong and finishes in Macau.
Pretty podium girls had it hard all day standing out in the cold weather conditions