Sweet Spot Progression

I don’t know why a coach would tell you you don’t need to be strong aerobically for crits. What he described is icing on the cake. It’s important, but even Crit racing is primarily aerobic. You are spot on about the recovery from the surges. If you surge at 350W with a 300W FTP, that’s a lot less costly than surging at 350W with a 250W FTP.

You already know what I think. Train the pointy end a few weeks before the A events, then let the races serve as the intensity as you recover.

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I agree aerobic fitness is most important long term, but also agree with the coach those short efforts are important in race season/now.

I did a cat 3/4 race last Sunday (my first ever RR), and my AP was…209w (NP 277w) for ~1:50:00. So yeh it was fairly ‘surge-y’, and I attacked once, as well as the final sprint. But in this race (and most races?), short effort repeatability and power is much more important than a few points on FTP, as long as FTP/w/kg is somewhat competitive. Shorter efforts can be improved much quicker than raising FTP and at greater %s.

IMO having a 365w FTP didn’t help me in this race or the 3 crits I’ve entered so far, but punching out of a few corners and up the final drag definitely did help in the RR (and I took home some prize money :slight_smile: )


I also think that for your weight, that’s a respectable sprint. I’m sure it’d be higher after specific training too.

Were you able to raise your CTL using your higher intensity model?

What matters more is what he can sprint after 50 or 90 minutes of racing. In the lower categories, there are plenty of people who can put out 1100W or similar power fresh. Not many who can do that at the end of a race. Sprinting is my personal weakness on the bike, but even then in a Cat 4 race (second race of the day) I sustained a 1050W sprint for 5s and passed 3 people heads up. No one in their right mind would call me a sprinter (1220-1250W Pmax at 71kg), but I have good fatigue resistance, so I can translate more of that sprint power to the road late in a race.

THAT is why the aerobic fitness matters, and by proxy a higher FTP will help raise the level of your sprint late in the race.

I think I misinterpreted the coach’s quote. He said he’d rather him improve 1, 2 and 5min power and sprint for crit racing than focus solely on anaerobic, and that part I agree with. When you’re up at 5 min, most of that effort is aerobic, so improving your max aerobic power is key in criterium racing IMO. Many of those races require a hard effort for the last few laps to gain position (aerobically) before throwing down a sprint.

Focusing on repeated surging will help you respond to the race, but it won’t help you dictate the race as much. If you’re very strong in that final two laps, you can make the race what you want it to be, whether that’s a last lap flier, or dictating a fast strung out pace to minimize the bunch in the sprint, or just laying down a powerful sprint after two hard laps. FWIW, all of my (lower category) wins/runner-ups have come from 2-5 min solo efforts on the final laps. While I might not win in Cat 3 or certainly in Cat 2 with those tactics, I can definitely setup a teammate, or bridge to a break, or any number of other things that having a high 30s (anaerobic) power doesn’t help as much with.

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So basically (surprise, surprise) you have to train all the systems with emphasis on a fatigue resistance, that is based on lot of Z2, sst, threshold and vo2 max intervals and sprinkle with some race sharpening efforts and anaerobic capacity. With all the discussions and details in the end it all is the same basic principle.


There is no magic bullet.

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FWIW, where I fucked up was that I based all futur training coming off a VO2 block and a great race result (322wNP for 2.5 hr) at too high an FTP, which is was my training during all of June.

So when I was doing threshold work at what I thought was 95% was ACTUALLY like 103%. Doing 2x workouts per week of 3x15 or 2x20 @ 103% is a recipe for implosion.

THAT is where I made a mistake and learned a valuable lesson.

I did 3x18 (90 min total ride time) @ 94-95% yesterday and 2 hr @ 200w today (healthy Z2) with 9% decoupling. Weirdly my HR was consistently between 130-140 BPM, which is 5-10 BPM lower than the same type of ride 3 weeks ago. Hmmm.

Pulling the plug on the rest of this week and resting up. I’ve either overcooked the goose or something else is up.

Personally I’ve found it quite hard to do get away and dictate the pace in my limited experience so far, without wasting copious amounts of energy (I’m not convinced FTP is sacred, because I find these’s little opportunity to express it). Just trying to get away from the group I did over 1000w and 715w for 25s - ready to settle into some SST or threshold and I see one or two chasers dragged the whole peloton with them. In fairness, that maybe burnt others’ matches as well as one of my own, so that’s a consideration of course.

Anyway I totally agree on fatigue resistance. I’ve tried to get some conversation going on this before, and am still interested to hear from those who have specifically trained it…

  • Do you have a power benchmark you aim for (% of fresh PR) after target time (race length)?
  • Any specific protocols, or just ride around and do efforts at the end?
  • Number of repeats for efforts in fatigued state (one maximal or multiple)?
  • Are workouts specific (e.g. 20 min efforts only on any one day, or mix and match say 20 min, 1 min etc)?

Please show me what you’re doing and talk me through anything I’ve missed :slight_smile:

That stuff is going to happen more often than not. The times I get away, I’ve timed it such that no one in their right mind wants to chase because of where we are in the race or the fact that everyone’s tired or we’re going into a headwind or we’re on a kicker. I choose the places where some people are likely to already be hurting or thinking about setting up a sprint. I’m no stronger than you in terms of getting away, but my 5 min power is pretty strong. From about 2 min out to 40 min, my “power profile” is mid-“Cat 2” on that stupid Coggan chart, so I try to find breaks that suit that, especially the long VO2max-ish efforts.

I train those, obviously. The VO2max block earlier in the year, and then more recently thrown into my race prep block I did a 3x5min max efforts on 1:1 rest in that duration.

I think a lot of the pace dictation or breaking away is just about timing and knowing the field as much as it is about being strong enough. Obviously if you’re not strong enough, it’s not going to work. And then more often than not, you know that people are going to bring you back if you’re solo. My successful solo breaks have lasted up to 5 min where I just broke near the end of the race and the field looked at each other long enough for me to get away and hold it.

I’ve had other races where I’ve done really impressive solo breaks off the front that look glorious but fail miserably. It’s all part of the learnings. Anymore, I’m seeking the times when I can break, but shut it down when no one comes with me instead of trying to make a 30-min solo break work. Then I can attack again and maybe someone is more likely to come with me without dragging the field back. That stuff is tough to do in 40-50 min crits anyway.


WRT pace dictation, some of that is just keeping the field fast enough that I know I’ll be in a good position to sprint. I don’t mind going on the front late in a race to hold the pace high. I know I’m not likely to win the race that way, but I also know I’m likely to place high enough for upgrade points if I’m near the front late. So I’ll go on the front and set a high tempo that strings the field out late in the race to minimize the bunch, then trust that my sprint is just high enough to hold on to a podium or high finish. To me, THAT’s where a high FTP helps in those situations. I can do that without crushing myself, and I know that if I’m in a little bit of suffering, a lot of other guys (certainly not everyone ) are in a worse spot than me, especially if there’s a crosswind or hill.

Keep in mind, that stuff is all true in Cat 3/4/5, where I’ve generally been among the strongest in the field. That’s not going to be true in the 2s when/if I get there.


Thanks Kurt, really good to read your thoughts on it. I think my legs are good enough tbh, and now I’ve started racing I’m trying to fast track a ‘bank’ of wisdom/tactics/experiences to try and draw on from wherever I can!

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It also depends where you are racing. I’m in Colorado where fields are big and riders strong.

I’m a reformed BMX’er, and compact (71-72kg). My aerobic base is a WIP but I have a good sprint. I took a podium in a Cat5 field last weekend. Averaged about 185w, NP 211w, but took a 1168w sprint and still holding 980w to 11s to take the last step on the podium in the group sprint at the end. My attack on lap 2 was 280w avg and 27mph lap, but still got reeled in after… it also accidentally launched the winner. Oops. For me, I can throw some attacks, but to be in podium contention, I have to sit in to get to the end. That race was a 25-26mph average.

Our combined cat4/5 fields averaged around 27-28mph in the front. When you’re coming into a headwind at 22mph in a group, that you’re doing 250w @ 14mph solo, you realize how strong some people are.

So you don’t need a monster FTP to do well. You have to ride to your strengths. I’m coming at from the other side in that I can probably outsprint most Cat5’ers (1400w sprint on fresh legs), but my FTP isn’t earth shattering. A lot of the Cat 5’ers here that race the combined fields are very good at learning and reading stronger riders, so solo breaks are a little harder to pull of as they’ll just jump on your wheel. Most of those guys just end up pulling the field along and are wasted at the end.

In the higher categories, everyone is strong, so FTP is sort of meaningless because it takes more than that to win, because everyone is a baller.

Strong riders can get upgraded fast to Cat4 (where things bottleneck out here due to field sizes), but they often don’t learn much at Cat5, which hurts them.

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As far as I know from various sources:

  • Long sst and threshold is good fatigue resistance by itself (especially with your FTP and amount of kJ)
  • Short power is better trained when fresh. Efforts when fatigued (vo2 max and short power) can be tested after certain amount of kJ or done for your mental game but they are better trained fresh when you push more power and stress the system.
  • You can do short power efforts for capacity like 3x20 min of 15/15
  • Z2 with longer efforts during the ride.
  • Typical breakpoints are 1500 kJ, 2500kJ and 3000kJ
  • In WKO there is great feature of PdC after certain kJ and insights how you place with your power loss.

Some basic lecture:


Thank you :pray:

Well timed threshold workout for me today then - first in quite a while. Classic 3x20@97% and comfortably 25°C :hot_face:

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I had done exactly this on tuesday, it was 24°C and it was AMAZING in comparison to 32 recently :smiley: (and 28°C in the room) - so amazing that my HR barely touch the threshold HR during last interval and I felt like a "young and beautiful on the bike :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Yes thats true. Fresh i can do 1129w for 1s and 1032w for 5s. After burning 1200kJ in a race i can do 1031w for 1s and 929w for 5s. But as you said, positioning matters so the last 5min is vo2max to get into position. When you are more fresh you can better push yourself into little gaps (fighting for position).

I ask the coach why he let me do so much Anaerobic stuff and he say that you need that for a race. He even let me do vo2max stuff and i think thats right, but not in the season with races every week.

A couple of weeks ago i was in the breakaway with 7 other riders and most of the time the break happends when it is going hard and some attacks after attacks. You have to attack when your legs burn. When you are fresh/easy you know others riders also fresh and easy. So attack after attack and go.

After 30min into the race 7 riders attacked and i saw that was the right group to go away. I dont wait to long and make the jump from the peloton into the break. I did 1min effort of 400w (with 4 corners) to close the gap.


Good post, i dont see criteriums in my categorie with burning more than 1500kJ. I ride races from 60-90min and 1200-1500kJ. Sometimes i ride criteriums with elites (cat 1) and thats 120min.

Yeah, I was going to comment on that too. I think the “work after 2000kJ” (or similar numbers) really is meant for (male) people with pro-level power, and also longer races. At my meager FTP (just over 200W), it takes me 6 hours or so to burn 2000kJ. Granted that’s at lower speed, but I just don’t really have races where that is relevant.

As you said, it’s better to look at what you’d burn in a typical race, and use that number instead of a generic one.

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Power post kJ is rather targeted to longer road races. Amateur races in my country are usually on two distances (these are rolling races, we do not have American style crits) - around 50 km and 80 km. The shorter ones are usually 1.5h long for winners (shorter distance). This would be also something similar to 1500-1700kJ for me with a race pace. So similar effort in terms of energy expendure. For longer distances winners are around 2h - this would be around 2000-2500kJ.

But yes, all depends where your FTP is. I am just saying about general brake points that are used in article or tests.

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