TT Climb pacing strategy

Hey guys,

I’m doing a mass start hill climb but I’m treating it like a ITT. I’m a big guy and have no illusions about hanging on to a group of lightweights :slight_smile:

I pre-rode the course with the first half at sweetspot, the second half around threshold. That took about 32 minutes. I definitely had something left in the tank, so I think I can break 30 on race day. Maybe even less.

Question: What’s the best pacing strategy for a race like this? Should I shoot for threshold the entire climb and go all out on the last 5 minutes? Half sweetspot, half a bit over threshold? I’d really hate to blow up until the finish line.

Look forward to reading your thoughts!

Really depends on the climb profile. Is it one gradient for 30-32 mins? is there a flatter section or steeper section?

The first half is a very steady highway climb. About half-way through there is a short section where we circle back under an overpass. This could potentially be a one minute “rest”. The second half is rough road with a lot of variance in grading, up to 11%. The steeper sections are short.

Perhaps you may gain an advantage by pacing the first half at sweet spot but not at the lowest end - rather a little higher - then at the midway point where you have said there is a potential for a bit of recovery, do a bit of a self ‘check’ and see how you feel.

If you feel good and strong then you can select a power that you know might otherwise be challenging (for example threshold) and really dig deep - on the other hand if for whatever reason you are not feeling so good, stay in sweet spot but at the higher end.

Then (and this is the fun bit) when you get to a point in the road that means you know (from your previous test ride of the route) that you have about 4 or 5 minutes to go, take another ‘check’.

Again, if you are not feeling great just continue with the higher end sweet spot and try to hold it to the end - pushing for a sprint out of the saddle if necessary, when the finish is in sight.

However if you are feeling good then consider a bigger effort for the last 4 minutes - just above threshold or Lower end VO2 max. Again with a dig deep push when the finish line is in sight

This approach means you have two ‘review’ points in the race at which you have already decided upon your strategy in the event of feeling good / not so good and this means you don’t have to think through a decision on the go and can implement the already decided plan which will give you confidence and save you any mental effort on the day.

As a bigger guy you probably need to factor in that the ramps you’ve mentioned in the second half of the route will have a greater impact so the steady pacing in the first half will allow you preserve yourself a bit for the effort ahead.

If on the other hand you smash the first half then you may end up losing any time that gains you, through reduced energy over the second part.

I’m no expert and don’t have a huge amount of personal experience of this type of effort / race but have been told by a quite a few different more experienced racers that it is almost always better to finish strong that go off hard and fade later on. I’m a bigger rider too and have found that psychologically this approach is more helpful as it leaves a bit in the tank for the point at which you know the end is in sight and then you can use the extra mass to your advantage (if possible) to basically try and empty everything in the last couple of minutes.

With this length of effort don’t forget to consider you pre and mid race fuelling - my own personal recommendation (but you’ll need to play to your own personal preferences) is to try and drink your carbs so you make sure your topped up properly from the get-go - not much point taking a gel with 10 minutes to go as it may not get into your system and could make you sick if you’re smashing a PB power effort so if you think you may fade in the last half then try and top up before that.

Hope this helps - good luck :+1:t2::+1:t2::muscle:t2:

If you’re gonna treat it like a TT then my recommendation is settle in at whatever you can sustain for 30 minutes or so. I think it’s a misconception that you can ‘rest’ on the shallower gradients for 2 reasons.

  1. Think of it as an interval workout. Assuming you can sustain 30 minutes at a set power, how much harder can you really go in the 15 minute blocks with only 1 minute recovery. And keep in mind that your power will go much much further for you on the flats, allowing you to make up some time especially if other people rest.

  2. Have you ever been in a recovery interval and the start of the next interval catches you by surprise? That’s what resting on the flats is like for me. You get into a comfy rest mode, and when the gradient pitches back up and you’ve gotta get back up to threshold and grind it out for another 15 minutes or so it can be a psychological beat down.


First, I want to acknowledge that @pcort handed me my ass on three different TT hill climbs last season, so his advice is worth heeding.

If you are looking at 30 minutes, you should be able to ride at threshold for all of it and still be able to light a match toward the end for the kick to the line. You already have an n=1 example of feeling you had more to give. Don’t let yourself have that feeling on race day.

This isn’t a long race - I say go to the highest level of discomfort you can tolerate and hang on for as long as you can, which will be the whole race.

A lot of racing on climbs is commitment to suffering more. Embrace it.


Thank you all for your thoughtful and to the point comments and advice. It is much appreciated. I totally see now that I was thinking too conservatively. It makes total sense that if my threshold power is truly a measure of what I should be able to do for an hour, then holding threshold for 30 minutes should be quite doable, and still allow me to kick in the last 5 minutes!

This is a C race, so I’m training right through it. My onboard fatigue might limit the theoretical threshold, but on the flip side, I’ll be in motivated “race” mode and my tolerance for pain will be high.

I will embrace the challenge! I’m shooting for under 29 minutes. My pre-ride was 31:45. Wish me luck!


this blog might help, but also, remember not to start out too hard. If you’re riding really well right now and think you can PR it, I’d look at your best 30m wattage, start at 95% of that (after getting up to speed over first 30-60s, don’t SHOCK the system right from the line), then crank it up to 100%.

Let us know how it goes!


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Great blog. Saved to re-read in a few months.

Use your power curve in TR atthe 30 minute mark in Personal Records. You should be above threshold for that effort.

Is this race draft legal?

Are there any sections steep enough to require you to go above threshold? That’s the only reason I can think of not to try and go at it pretty close to threshold the whole way.

It’s a “mass” start race.