Let the body speak: Steve Cummings’ Race to Glory on Stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico

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Steve Cummings 4 Tirreno Stage 4

On 12 March 2016, Steve Cummings won stage 4 at Tirreno-Adriatico for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka through his bold tactics in the closing 5km of the race. In this blog we share his winning data file recorded on his dual sided Rotor 2IN powermeter.

Stage Overview

The 222km stage started with an early break going clear in the opening kilometres of the race. The breakaway got a maximum lead of 5-minutes but was reeled in with around 30km to go. This final section of the route included 2 short climbs on which the pace ramped up significantly. By the time the front group went over the final climb of the day at 15km to go, there were only 40 riders remaining including Edvald Boasson Hagen, Steve Cummings and Natnael Berhane representing Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka

Attacks started to fly from the front group with Cummings and Berhane covering each one, hoping to keep the race together for Boasson Hagen. Salvatore Puccio (SKY) then put in a telling attack with 6km to go which Cummings and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R) responded. The trio got a 10-second gap before 3 riders jumped the gap to join them, Berhane was part of this move placing our African Team in a great position with 2 riders in the lead group of 6. The chase never seemed to come from the peloton and so with 3km to go, Cummings saw his opportunity, attacked and time trialed to a great solo win.

Stage Summary Data
Duration: 6:07:10
Distance: 222km
TSS: 379.2
Normalized Power: 315W
Average Power: 227W
Average Heart Rate: 128bpm
Ave Temperature: 120C
Energy Expenditure: 5015 calories

SC TA 12Mar16 Entire Workout
Figure 1: Steve Cummings Data File for Stage 4 Tirreno-Adriatico 2016

Workload Management and Efficiency

As all experienced pro cyclists know, energy management and efficiency during World Tour level stage races are the key to successful performances. Cummings’ data from this stage provides clear evidence of his smart and efficient approach to racing.

Cummings’ summary data from the stage show that he:

  • Coasted (cadence 0-1-rpm) for 1:15:35 (21% of the total time) of the total race . Figure 2: Cadence Distribution Chart
  • Spent 2:14:14 (37% of the total time) at a power of 0-150W i.e. in his recovery zone. Of this 1:30:31 (25%) of the race was at 0-50 power i.e. coasting. Figure 3: Power Distribution Chart

SC TA 12Mar16 Cadence Distribution
Figure 2: Cadence Distribution Chart

SC TA 12Mar16 Power Distribution
Figure 3:Power Distribution Chart

In the first two thirds of the race, Cummings rode conservatively knowing that the race outcome would be determined over the final climbs.

Compared to the first 2/3 of the race, in the final third of the race his:

  • Average power increased by 36%
  • Average Heart Rate increased by 30%
  • Energy Expenditure and Work (calories) increased by 30%

Comparative Data for the Race
Comparative Data for the Race

Final Climbs

Because of his conservative and efficient approach to the early part of the race, Cummings was able to deliver a high workload over the final three climbs (3 x 10min at 400-450W) which reduced the lead group to only 40 riders.

Comparative Data for final climbs
Comparative Data for final climbs

The Winning Move

At 3.2km to the finish Steve put in an eleven second attack (average power 893W, maximum power 1244W) and time trialed to the finish line in textbook winning style.

During his 3min 46sec solo effort, he averaged 451W and accelerated hard through the final corners as shown in Figure 4:

Acceleration 1: 24 sec, ave 588W
Acceleration 2: 8sec, ave 549W
Acceleration 3: 11sec, ave 507W
Acceleration 4: 15sec 571W

His ability to produce these powers at the end of a 6-hour stage, in stage 4 of a World Tour stage race speak to his talent, form, efficiency and experience.

SC TA 12Mar16 Final 3.2km
Figure 4: Final 3.2km – Solo Victory Effort

Conclusion

Winning a stage like this requires knowing when to use your strengths. Cummings is great when it comes to knowing how to ride within himself and not letting other riders determine the rhythm he has to ride at. We saw this at stage 14 of the Tour de France in 2015 where he bided his time, before making his move in the last kilometers of the stage. He did the exact same thing in Tirreno-Adriatico.

The data was analysed in TrainingPeaks, the Official Training Software of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. This article was prepared by Trevor Court and Dr Carol Austin.