Struggling with hard races


New to TR and this forum :slight_smile:
I’m racing bikes for around 17 years now and started training very seriously about 5 years ago (around 15 hrs a week). I worked with 2 coaches and now I’m self coached for 6 months. My endurance is fine but I’m struggling in the XC and crit races. After a couple of fast corners or chasing someone for a minute, I have to take a breath and let the competitors go. This is super frustrating.

I’ve always struggled with Anaerobic efforts. My sprint and 1 + 5 min powers are ok, it just seems that I can’t recover from them.
For example, during the specialty phase doing 30/30’s. Im done after 4 reps, I just can’t handle them.

At the moment i’m doing Threshold over/unders, with 1 min over (120-130%) and 2 min under (80-85%). I’m hoping that this will help me to develop to clear the lactate of recover better from a hard effort. (btw, i wasn’t able to finish this workout, tried it once. Did 3 reps and I had to recover for a couple of minutes, did 2 reps and finally was able to do 1 more rep, next time I will reduce the watts a little.)

Some numbers:
FTP: 387W
Sprints: around 1500
1 min: 650W
5 min: 480W

Does anyone recognize this of got some experience? Any good tips or tricks to help me would be very welcome! Also, what TR plan will suit this problem the best?

Thank you!

Short power build if you’re looking to build on your high end. But if your numbers are correct here you should not have problems hanging on in races, unless you’re in some high level P/1/2 races. This seems to be a positioning thing, which I struggle with too.

Yeah numbers are fairly decent. As the previous poster said it more about positioning and also learning where to be and when to make an effort. Sometimes its worth making a little effort before the all out effort to get nearer the front. Also dont need to chase every move. Instead of doing 30 30s why not chang it 20 40s or 15 45s and at the rest part still be at mid zone 3 to sweetspot and try build up to 50 minutes but start with blocks of 10 minutes then rest 5 minutes

interested to know how you landed on those percentages for over / unders? I’d perhaps try 105/95 (3 mins / 2 mins - maybe 20 minute blocks) as the 80% seems way too low.

Not sure what others think.

If you’re struggling to chase someone for a minute in a crit just don’t… Someone else will usually come around if whoever you’re chasing is worth chasing. Latch on that wheel.

No way I’d ever chase for a full minute in a crit unless I was working for a teammate. Better to let someone else do it or rotate turns.

Your numbers are good. Maybe a bit of racecraft is all you need.

If you don’t mind, can you post your full power curve and not just your summary numbers? It will be easier to diagnose that way.

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Thanks all, appreciate the help!
I race in The Netherlands at the Elite level, so I guess that’s similar to the P/1/2 races in the US.

I don’t think the tactics are the big problem for me. Especially in XC races, I seem to blow up very fast.
If a crit is very hard with sprints out of corners or people are leaving gaps in front of me, then the same thing happens, I blow up. Maybe something with lactate clearance?

I can’t remember how I got the numbers for the over/unders, must have seen it somewhere.

Sure thing, let me figure out how I can post pictures :slight_smile:

These are just my 2020 numbers. Didn’t use TP before.
Only went all out on my 20 min power this year, so other numbers are not my PRs.


Pic is a bit small, but I have a theory. How long do you think you could hold your FTP?

If you are getting ridden off wheels during flat crits at the FTP that you say that you have, there is one of a few things that might be happening:

  • Your ability to hold your FTP for longer durations is low, which means that as the race progresses in the latter parts, you’ll get dropped as the pace picks up.
  • You are going too hard out of corners and wasting energy. With a large sprint, you can churn through a lot of energy trying to get on wheels and the energy cost for these efforts is actually understated if you are looking at it from a baseline kj perspective.

Depending on which you think it is, there are various things you could do both tactically or from a training standpoint to address it.

I’ll also add that I’m not sure your endurance is as good as you say it is, but that may be from the scaling of the pic.


So I’d offer a potential counterfactual.

In your attempts to solve this problem, could you be digging yourself into a hole that’s actually making the problem worse?

What I mean is, you struggle to repeat these hard efforts in a race. So you train hard at hard efforts - but end up training so hard that when you come to race again, your legs are too tired and you struggle again.

You’re doing 15 hours a week. You don’t really need very much of that at high intensity to get and stay fit. Maybe you’re going too hard in training to go hard in the race…


I’m not sure how long I can hold my FTP. So this could be a good point. Is this a matter of doing FTP work?
I’m trying to do 3 long rides each week (3hr+), so I’m not able to do any more endurance with the time that I have.

85% of my time is spend in Z1/Z2, 8% in Z3, so the time spend in above or at Threshold is low.
I’m saving hard sessions for my specialty phase. So I don’t think that this is the problem for me.

You will have race files with the data why not have a look back and try to see if there is pattern when it happens. Then try to replicate it and improve it. Also have a look of the result sheets from previous races of who the top riders are and try and stick close to them and watch what they do. If they ain’t following a move dont. Also have a look at apps that will give you wind direction of the course then think of what side to be on at that point to safe energy or a matches. With your sprint you shouldn’t be getting dropped unless your position is poor or your repeatabilty isn’t great. Next race a look at the course and have the plan or picture in your head at every point it will kick off to be in the top 20 or higher. Is it at the beginning or end you are getting dropped. If its end when you start to tire why not on a 3 hour ride. Ride the last hour like a crit do 20 minutes of 20/40s . Next race have a plan going in as what you’re going to do. How is the nutrition and hydration before events could that be better.