Time Trial Target Power

I’m entered in my first Stage Race this weekend in Steamboat, CO to help out our team for Colorado Cup points. The race consists of a Time Trial, Road Race, and Crit in that order. I have never competed in a Time Trial before, and I’m not certain what power to target for the 22 km distance. The course is full of small rises, and a couple of longer climbs that only amount to a few hundred feet total.

Should I target 115% of my FTP, more or less?

Less, definitely less


Assume 22km is going to take you 30-35 minutes. That’s too long for 115% FTP, more like 105% or less. Also - how was your FTP determined? And have you tested it in the drops or TT position (whichever you’re racing in)? E.g. If your FTP was estimated from a ramp test on hoods or bar tops, then I would guess that the power you could hold for 35 minutes in a drops position would be significantly lower. And if you’re on an unfamiliar TT bike or have put clip ons onto your bike for the first time then all bets are off!

If you can, go do a 10-15 minute interval at FTP on the bike and position you’ll be racing in, and see if you think it’s sustainable. And bear in mind that it’s better to go off a few % low and negative split than go off a few % high and blow up. Almost nobody ever finishes a TT wishing they’d gone off harder!

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It depends massively on how steep the rises, climbs, and subsequent descents are. Do you have a link to the course or a Strava segment? If you can see how other people paced it, it might help you put together a plan.

Edit: And what’s your FTP and power to weight?

Thanks for the feedback Cartsman! I did neglect to consider the TT position, and yes I am using clip-on bars on my road bike. Sounds like I should aim for my FTP or slightly less to start, and see how I feel as I go.

I do have access to the Strava profile, and it’s a bit deceiving because of the relatively short overall distance. I have a few teammates that have done this route in previous years, so I can get a feel from them on the elevation change.

My FTP is 250, or 3.68 w/kg

Use best bike split to determine optimal pacing

Sounds like a good plan, and definitely try and do a practice effort if you can, I’ve seen some clip on positions which are horrible and the rider would have been better off on the drops. Good luck!

Sounds good. Go at threshold for maybe 20 minutes and then ignore your power meter and just go as hard as you can.

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I’ll get some help on the clip-on set up.

I can ignore my power meter for sure, lol!


Honestly don’t bother if you don’t have time for lots of practice, just go with what you are comfortable with aka your normal road setup. Get your skinsuit and shoe covers on and smash it.

A few questions for you which I would look at to determine how I would do the TT’

How long if the TT Course?
Is there any wind?
Is it a undulating or flat course?
Is it an out and back or loop?

So shorter the course, the higher the % of your FTP you can race at if your FTP
If there is a head wind out, I would aim for 1.05IF to 1.10IF and on the way back .90-.95% IF finishing with close to 1.00IF
If its undulating you might need to aim for 105% over the berg, and then smash gears on the downhill -
If its an out and back, then make sure to change gears before you get to the turn so you can get out of the turn and back up to speed

Don’t over cook yourself in the first minute - slowly ramp up to speed
Warm up
Get as aero as you can
My suggestions for your computer screen , I use, Cadence, Avg 3 sec power, IF and distance. Heart Rate I don’t look at.

If you have never done a TT before, I’d suggest the following:

  • Start a bit under FTP for the first 10 minutes
  • Ride for feel the rest of the time, targeting around RPE8 out of 10 until a few KM out
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Most are not going to be okay with riding a TT at their 100% threshold in the TT position. This takes awhile to adjust to. Easy to start at 100-105% based on your road bike and totally explode 8 minutes in.
Also if the OP can do 115% for 20-22k it’s time to up what your ftp is.

100-105% at max. This blog may help you out: https://www.evoq.bike/blog/2019/4/11/how-to-pace-a-time-trial-in-cycling

Let us know how it goes!


Hmm, really you need to do a TT beforehand, ideally on the same course but any kind of simulation will help even if you don’t go full gas.

In my experience there’s quite a few variables, not least the temperature and wind, that affect power output. So you might think the 20 min FTP test could give you some guidance, but I’ve found I can do about 10W more outside in the real world in short, flat TTs.

Generally speaking though I build up reasonably fast then see FTP as my
minimum output, and let course and feel guide the rest until the end is in sight then it’s balls-to-the-wall until the finish line.

Absolutely, last 2kms, go harder than you think you can and hold it. Don’t have anything left over the line.

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