Long Century/Gran Fondo focus on sweetspot or ftp? (Climbing focus)


For the riders who compete in long gran fondo’s with lots of long climbing (3-5hr total climbing). What should you best focus on? Raise your TIZ of SST or focus on a higher FTP?
I have 10 weeks to my event. Base is already good, did some Z2 with SST progression work and a very few FTP sessions before I went to my training camp in Mallorca (1430 TSS). CTL is 100 now so few days recovery and next week starting my 10week block.
But what do choose for as a focus? I was thinking of increasing my SST TIZ in my rides as much as possible (3-4hrs possible). Because in this event I will be climbing 5hrs (4 long climbs). Or focus on FTP sessions, with some over/unders, vo2max work. To be as strong as possible when I start?

I did this ride in 2018. This is some little info:

First two climbs were at 0.88/.087 IF (maybe to much). The other were 0.80/0.79

What is your TTE currently?

Higher FTP makes everything easier but for an event like this I think TTE is more important.

1 Like

39:44min TTE
I am very good at riding @SST level, never really do much 100% or 105%FTP work. I did 1x90min SST but on a good day I can manage 1x120min @90% I think.
So maybe focus first on extending TTE? (could also be just mental because I did a 40min effort at 280W recently (and it was not really as part of an FTP test).

1 Like

You could extend this a bit but you don’t have a ton of time. Extending TTE isn’t quick. I would “funnel”. Schedule VO2max sessions for the 4 weeks prior to event (don’t forget taper week) and work your way backwards from there with threshold. Start shifting / morphing SST (current) to threshold (next 5 weeks). Those don’t have to be mutually exclusive sessions.

1 Like

If you have 10 weeks till your event I might do something like this:

3 weeks of extending TTE at FTP (probably wouldn’t see huge gains in only 3 weeks but might get you up to 50min or so)
1 weeks recovery
2 hard weeks of VO2 stuff
1 -1.5 weeks recovery
1.5 - 2 weeks with some extended SS stuff but mainly longer endurance with event specific fueling and climbing
1 week of taper

1 Like

Good insights…thx! I also have the opportunity to do two big weekends at the end of May and begin June where I can do 3 days of high volume riding with some hills and climbs. Maybe I use those with some proper rest in between to give me some extra boost.

1 Like

:+1: Those are the “race specificity” to me. All else should be recovering from, or adding to this type of riding. Shorter stuff that will sharpen you (sessions mentioned above). Also, I don’t think things like “VO2max sessions” etc have to necessarily be the “make sure you are above 90% HR max and get +18mins because science says so” workouts. You are sharpening, not building in this case.

Workouts that would in another context be introductory or maintenance HIIT sessions would work fine on your volume. At that stage, don’t kill yourself, even if you’re going to do rest weeks. This isn’t powerlifting.


Indeed. But those rides will have shorter climbs (5-15min) and my event has long high mountain climbs (1-1.5hr). So I was thinking if I would try to do some race specific training indoors and log some longer rides 3-4hr with long SST climbs (simulate the event). I always wonder if you can train indoors for such events because indoor vs outdoor always seems to have some different effects on my muscles…

Enjoy the Marmotte!

Also living in the UK I have the same issue with zero long climbs! I had best success with my high mountain trips with long tempo and SST work on the flats and in the winds. No quite race specific without the gradient and affect on riding position but it did great things for simply being able to sit for 60-90 mins at tempo/low SST on climb after climb day after day. I rarel did any specific vo2 focus work but just rode spicy group/club rides with plenty of time spent chasing whippets up the hills - that seemed to do enough to allow FTP to grow. It never seeme to affect my long climbing ability.

I’m off for 7 days in the Dolomites the same weekend you go, and will do the Maratona route again as well as finishing with a day on the Stelvio. Your description of yourself almost exactly matches me this year and I have the same question. My plan is to repeat my winter 20/21 SST progression as it set me up brilliantly with great fatigue resistance, and that year I was setting PBs on big hills in the last few kms of long days out and sportives. Didnt really increase my FTP but it certainly helped me put out more power for much longer into big rides. I’m also going to combine that with as many longer z2 rides as I can to maximise endurance.

Good luck with it and let us know how you get on over the next few weeks.

1 Like

I sure will! Will post some insights now and then…Always good for other riders to compare for similar events…

1 Like

Yep - look forward to hearing about it.

I did it in 2016 with awful weather, but frankly I just wasnt fit enough either. Wheels fell off on the final AdH climb and I quite fancy having another crack at it with a better training plan :smiley:

When I done the Marmotte, Flanders and the LBL and a few other long/hilly events it was pre structured training and I focussed on time in the saddle even though in the flatlands of the UK its impossible to fully replicate big climbs. I went with a coach for the Mallorca 312 and IIRC his approach was more shorter higher intensity stuff with the occasional longer ride built in which seemed to stand me in good stead although I think my psychological experience of time in the saddle saw me through at the end (heat stroke = throwing up dinner and breakfast probably didn’t help there). On hindsight it might have been the start of my bowel/colon cancer. Years later however those approaches (time in the saddle and developing FTP) seem to have put me in a good place for climbs in Mallorca/ Tenerife and my main focus now TT’s but although it feels like I’m going hard on climbs/TTs there’s a little too much left in the tank at the end :neutral_face:

1 Like

Little weekly update…Took some rest, a long endurance ride, and some commuting work and yesterday and today I will use for some new testing. I did a aerotune power test 8 weeks ago and will do a new test now. Yesterday seated sprint and 4min effort. 4min effort I gained 6watts (:-)). No conclusion to be made, but mentally it is always better to have a higher output I guess ;-). But I did not do specific training on those intervals so…it’s normal. Today I have a 20min test. Then I can check the new results online, but I also have a 20min test I can plot into WKO5…
Then ready to get to the real training with treshold and SST work. Current CTL is 96 so should be able to do 2 intensive sessions weekly combined with some endurance work for a weekly 15hours of training. Fatigue management will be key.

edit: will post my 20min test later on today (fingers crossed)

1 Like

Would love to know more about your experience with the Aerotune tests and results - did it oroduce a useful prescription for you to follow and do you feel its helped, vs just neing a set of tests for measuring progress?

Result 20min was 293W. Test done on a completly flat terrain. Last year I did 300W, that was on a climb. For me it is harder to do a test on a flat road, on a climb it is mentally ‘easier’ to keep pressure on the pedals.
As a result, mFTP is set to 284W (coming from 281W 8 weeks ago).
My aerotune test gives a Critical Power of 277 (8 weeks ago it was 279W, but then I did the one day test).

I use it out of curiousity. It gives a nice overview of my training zones and energy consumptions within those zones. Within the 2 tests nothing much has changed but that was expected. I did not do specific FTP or vo2max training.

So, main question is now focusing on FTP for a few weeks? %vo2max is 83%. And I am on the 280W plateau for a long time. So it looks that I need some vo2max work to raise the ceiling. But because my main event is coming, I should focus more on TTE @FTP and working towards long time of SST in long rides. Maybe some O/U treshold sessions combined with a long SST session per week and rest Z2 endurance rides


@stino77 Since you’re a WKO user and seem to have a well fed model, what is your TTE on that mFTP (last 90 days, last 30days)?

You are indicating you think you need to do “TTE training”. What is it right now?

@tshortt my TTE is 34min (90days and 30days almost same). If I had no goals I think it would be time to do some vo2max work now. Been too long (years) around 280W FTP. It is not that I can bump that level up towards 300W the easy way. Also doing some good volumes with Z2 work. Only thing I did not do is specific FTP work.
But since the Marmotte is on 3july, I have to focus on some FTP work but also some longer endurance and long rides with climbing. And still be able to manage fatigue. So as you proposed before, I think I will focus on 3 weeks of FTP work with a combo of long SST sessions.

1 Like

Little update in between. Did some good weeks the previous month. CTL stable around 95 (weekly ±12h). Was not able to do really specific structured FTP workouts but did some some FTP or SST sessions indoor together with some Z2 endurance commuting and sometimes Z3 endurance according to fatigue.

But main focus was two longer rides on the last 2 saturday’s. First was 6hr (2200m) with 360TSS and last week it was 5hr (1850m) with 355TSS. Both rides I tried to maintain tempo as much as possible, with on the climbs around SST/FTP and tempo in between. Last week felt really good. IF of 0.85 and EF 1.7.
Also focused on good fueling, that seems to help also.

This week endurace commuting, I think a Vo2max session just to do something else for one time and then in the weekend I think a zwift session with 3x Alpe du Zwift in sweetspot zone.

After this week I plan two weeks with during the week easy work (focus on recovery) and then 3 back to back days of long rides in the Ardennes here in Belgium focusing on long rides with lots of climbing (5-15min climbs).


Did my 3x Alpe du Zwift today. Good pacing. 3 times within 15 seconds of each other. 3x @90%. Though and almost cramps last K but indoor never done such a session. 3000hm :laughing:.
182min sweetspot.