Spring Classics – How Winning Is Done

Spring is upon us and cycling fans will be all over the news updates about the professional cycling calender’s ‘Spring Classics’ – one-day bike races that often take place in volatile spring weather. Combine nasty riding conditions (dust, wind, mud, rain), tough terrain (short, rolling hills, the ubiquitous cobblestones), and massive distances (upwards of 200km) and you get a special breed of cycle races that can be won only by a special breed of cyclists.

Everything is on the line, and such is the importance of power in these events – and being able to stave off opponents’ attacks – that the authorities have resorted to random checks for illegal mechanical assistance at the recently concluded Milan-San Remo. Good insights into what it takes to excel in a such events can be found in this Training Peaks article.Here’s how you too can get the power of the best Spring Classics riders, without resorting to motors:1. Understand The Demands
If you are training for a crucial one-day ride with lots of rolling hills – think the upcoming Pasir Gudang circuit race, Batam Nongsa Cycle, or Batam 6 Bridges – you must see what is your category’s course distance, and also what is the nature of the most demanding parts of the race. High-end power demands from rough and undulating, all-or-nothing routes are quite different from the long, sustained climbs of a summer holiday’s ride in the Alps or a steady-eddy pace of a long-distance triathlon bike leg, so know what you are in for. Ask yourself: do you need more power, more conditioning in the sun, and/or more distance & time in the saddle?

2. Attack; Recover; Repeat (aka, Why ‘Hour of Power’ is good for you)
Spring Classics like Tour of Flanders will have numerous short hills where high power between 120-200% of your FTP for 30 seconds to 2 minutes is required to simply stay with the peloton. You don’t necessarily attack opponents – you are simply attacking the terrain, and the ability to recover fast from each effort and repeat that, again and again, is key. Your training should include similar levels and frequencies of efforts that simulate this kind of stress. Each burst is just short of an all-out sprint, and play a key role in developing the physical toughness necessary to wage was on the hills or on the cobbles.  Sign up for our ‘Hour of Power’ workouts in Athlete Lab, where we will put on energy-intensive sets that bring you deep into your anaerobic zone – enjoy!

3. Embrace Aerobic and Muscular Fatigue; And Then Go Harder Still

The distances involved with one-day races make them ‘do-or-die’ events – there is no prologue to warm-up, or subsequent second stage to make up a time gap on your opponents – just one powerful, calculated shot to glory. Your training should reflect this. Being able to put out effective, race-defining power late in the event when fatigue accumulated from a few hours of moderate to hard endurance riding has set in – this defines whether you will secure a good position or not. We recommend going out for an endurance-paced training ride anywhere from 2-6 hours, and then going hard on a set (join our Mountain Madness or Real Ride on the weekend sessions at Athlete Lab after an early-morning ‘endurance warm-up’) specifically designed to work on your weaknesses – be it powering up hills, holding high cadences, or launching/sustaining big surges.