When Egert Purre decided to race the 2020 Estonian Time Trial National Championship, he didn’t think he had a shot at winning. At best, he hoped to earn third in his age group, and ideally, he’d finish in the top five. His performance on race day told a different story. Egert left everything he had out on the course and ended up finishing with the fastest time in his age group.
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In August of 2020, triathlete Egert Purra lined up at the Estonian Time Trial National Championships for his fifth ever time trial. With the hard work and training already done, Egert focused his energy on pacing and riding smoothly. His hard work, diligence, and focus all paid off, and Egert won the time trial by a few seconds.
Egert might have surprised himself a bit with his result, but his finishing time was by no means an accident. Before the event, Egert had completed a full Base, Build, Specialty training progression and improved his Functional Threshold Power by over ninety watts. He diligently trained in an aero position, dialed his bike’s position, and sharpened his pacing skills. This time trial win resulted from a lot of hard work, consistency, and trial and error. And it all began with a triathlon-specific training plan.
The Training Plan
While Egert has time trials on his race Calendar, his training remains structured around his primary discipline—triathlon. With a background in running, Egert got his start in cycling by racing triathlons. He continues to make triathlon his priority with a training plan structured around his priority triathlon at the end of the season.
Egert started doing time trials to assess his cycling fitness during the triathlon season and practice racing in the aero position more frequently. While there are a few key differences between triathlon training and time trial training, the fundamental similarities between the two disciplines allow Egert to race time trials alongside his triathlon training and racing successfully.
Leading up to the Estonian Time Trial National Championships, Egert completed his triathlon training plan with a low-volume Half-Distance Triathlon Base, Build, and Specialty plans. Egert had some additional time to train, so he repeated another Base and Build phase after his first Base and Build phase. Egert was about halfway done with his Specialty training phase when nationals came around, with an FTP of 324.
Since he started training with TrainerRoad in 2019, Egert has raised his FTP by over 90 watts. His first FTP test assessed his FTP to be 237, and now his personal best FTP is 329. The progress hasn’t always been linear, though. Behind the numbers and the progress, there’s been plenty of ups and downs along the way. Among an abundance of training lessons, these stick out to Egert as being the most impactful.
Fuel With Carbohydrates
There was a time where Egert experimented with a Keto diet. When he removed carbohydrates from the equation, he found it had a negative impact on his training. Re-introducing plenty of carbohydrates into his diet solved the deficiency and helped Egert get through his interval workouts and intensity much more easily.
Buy a Fan
When Egert invested in a nice fan, he immediately noticed an improvement during his indoor workouts. It might not seem like much, but as Egert notes, investing in a good fan has a huge impact on your cooling process indoors.
Assess Your FTP
When Egert first started training with TrainerRoad, he had some solid foundational fitness from riding outdoors and doing a bit of structure indoors. For his first workout, he skipped his FTP test and decided to bump his FTP up. He soon found his workout was too hard. Since then, Egert always takes a Ramp Test at the start of each new block to tailor his training to his fitness.
Adjusting for Time Trials
Along with these solid training takeaways, Egert learned a few key differences between racing triathlon and time trials. Most notably, the position he had been riding in during triathlon races was not a UCI legal position for time trials.
Egert’s bike is UCI legal, but the position he rides it in for his races is not. In general, this position is optimized for triathlons, and he prefers having his arms sit higher than the UCI legal position. This position widens Egert’s hip angle during triathlon races, ultimately allowing him to be a bit comfier during these events.
To adjust, he’s had to lower his arms and move his saddle back proportionately. The adjustments made for time trials make riding the bike slightly more awkward, but that seems to be the only major con. Egert continues to train in the position optimized for triathlon, and then adjusts his fit for time trials. Usually, he will spend a few rides before a time trial readjusting to the fit and practicing with it outdoors.
Egerts Race Setup
- BMC Time Machine
- Giro Aerohead Aero helmet
- Biorace Speed Suit
- Castelli Shoe Covers
Not Your Average TT Course
With a dialed setup and the solid training plan, course prep and pacing were the last two pieces of the puzzle. This course wasn’t your average TT course, though, which made neither of these tasks simple. Opposed to rather gradual and consistent terrain usually done by most TTs, this course had several sharp turns and sections of torn up, narrow road.
The course began on a steep incline, followed by a roundabout and then a sharp left turn. From there, the course progressed into a number of sharp turns, which then continued into stretches of rough road surface and narrow lanes. Egert says the turn around point was on such a narrow section that you practically had to stop to turn yourself around.
To prepare for this course’s unruliness, Egert pre-rode the course in the aero position on his TT bike. Pre-riding gave him a feel for some of the harder parts of the course, and it helped him formulate a pacing and racing plan. The course was still challenging, but now Egert could anticipate how it would feel on race day.
Pacing with Power and Cadence
When it came to pacing and execution, Egert decided to focus on the process by nailing his power and cadence while riding through the uneven terrain as smooth as possible. To achieve this goal, he focused on keeping his power within a certain limit while maintaining his cadence goal of 100 rpm. When he got to a rough section, he loosened his hands on the aero bars to reduce stiffness and aimed to pedal powerfully through the section.
Egert was also the first athlete of the day to start on course. Except for a course marshal, Egert had to ride completely within himself and by himself with no one ahead of him. Though he roughly knew how quickly he would have to ride to do well on this course, he didn’t focus on speed or trying to maintain a certain speed. Instead, he kept focusing on his process goals.
In retrospect, he felt this strategy worked well for him. He wasn’t overthinking speed or the other competitors around him. Instead, he was entirely focused on how fast and smooth he could ride, which might have been enough to earn him the time he had over his competitors.
Egert’s Racing Mindset
Even though Egert didn’t expect to win, that didn’t keep him from leaving it all out there and racing his hardest. As Egert pointed out, you never know what will happen with you or your other competitors. Someone you might think is faster than you could be having a bad day. Or perhaps, they may not even be faster than you at all. Put in the hard work and preparation, and you might ride away from your competitors completely.
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