What plan would you choose to race The Tour of Flanders?

Hey all – would love to grab your opinion on this.

I’m heading into my last 4 weeks of General Power Build and have seen a nice bump in FTP over the first 4 weeks. I’m going to take a few weeks off after that, do a brief re-build – and as I look to head into specialty for my “A” race of the year I was planning on doing Rolling Road Race as a specialty. Since this event I target every year is a 60 mile road race with a bunch of short, steep climbs.

But the more I look at this – the more I think Rolling Road Race is not the right plan to simulate the specific demands of my event. The race isn’t surge-y, as much as it is selective. Meaning you have to hang with the A group on the hills, or you’re riding to the finish by yourself …, or with a bunch of other small groups that form in the wake of the leaders.

I’ve said this here before, but this event is a 60 mile race with ~4000 feet of climbing, but the climbs are only 2-5 mins long and between 12% - 18% grades at their steepest. It is a mini Tour of Flanders.

Nobody attacks on the flats – and the hills are so steep that there aren’t really attacks there either, it’s just the folks that can get over fast enough hang together until it is whittled down. If you’ve never done a race with that much climbing, but where no climb is longer that 5 mins - I promise you, it’s a special type of challenge. Here is the profile of the race:

And here is the segment/hill that we hit at about 27 miles where I was dropped:

Don’t pay attention to the power data - I didn’t have a power meter on my bike for this race. But you can see that it was only 2:50 seconds – and this actually represented a PR for me on the hill. But the leaders went over in about 2:20, and just like that I was off the back.

If you are a fan of De Ronde – as I am – you will recognize these types of efforts. They have names in Flanders . . . the Paterberg, the Oude Kwaremont, the Kapelmuur, the Koppenberg, etc.

If you were training for a race like this – I don’t thing you’d look at that profile of the efforts and choose Rolling Road Race. These are Vo2 efforts between 2-5 minutes. This isn’t surge-y short burst attacking. It is 130% of FTP survival.

I’ve been surveying the plans for the last few days, and I think the plans I’d choose for specialty – based solely on the type of effort are:

  1. The Cross Country Marathon MTB plan

or, more controversially…

  1. Using Short Power Build as my specialty plan – which is a master class in Vo2 work.

Am I nuts?

I love hypothetical situations like this – and I think some will agree and some will disagree with me, but I’ll probably learn something and think about things a little differently.

(Also, I’m just really pumped that the Spring Classics start this Saturday!)

Also – for those of you who made it this far . . . I give you Peter Sagan dropping every last rider on the Paterberg in 2016 :metal:


I’m doing the actual Flanders challenge in the spring, so this is something I’ve thought about quite a bit. Unfortunately due to a bad January I won’t be able to get into specialty before the event, but I did think about it quite a lot. Even if my event was just for fun, I still wanted to smash it up the big names.

From what you describe, it seems to me like XC marathon may be a better fit, with more efforts that look like the duration/course profile you’ll be doing. However, you do say that the efforts are in the 130% FTP range, which XC doesn’t quite cover (mostly high threshold/VO2 max). You’d get more work in that anaerobic range doing Rolling Road race. Although the duration of the intervals may not be perfect fits for your event, you’ll be working at closer to that level of effort.

Like I said, I thought about this a lot, and in the end planned to stick with rolling road for the Ronde, but also because it fits more into my other goals for the year.

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Just realized your title was misleading. You’re referring to a race in Michigan, USA - The Cherry Roubaix. Not the Tour of Flanders Sportiv for realzies.

You may want to be more clear :slight_smile: Asking for advice from people on which plan use for the Cherry Roubaix coming up in August would be farrrrr more helpful. Primarily because, in my opinion, Cherry Roubaix is unlikely to be anything like the Tour of Flanders Sportiv of any distance.

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I hear you – but far more people are familiar with the Tour of Flanders – and the profile of the climbs are essentially the same. That’s why I asked.

Great feedback, and I’m really sorry to hear about your injury – riding in a Flander sportiv is a bucket list item for me.

As to your response to my comment about 130% of FTP – I guess I didn’t mean that literally. What I meant is that you are going as hard as you possibly can for whatever the duration of the hill is… be it 2 minutes or 5 minutes.

When the grades are in excess of 12%, in my experience, no one paces themselves – they all smash it just to get over ASAP.

Anyway – that’s why I was think about XC Marathon – because it seems to train you at both Vo2 of longer durations, as well as working muscular endurance . . . which may not raise my Vo2 ceiling, but may help me hold higher percentages of it for longer.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking. But also – if I really had to pick one plan, regardless of training phase, that mimicked the profile of the efforts on this race, I would say it is truly Short Power Build

Hey @Bryce – would you all have any meaningful objection, for whatever reason, to someone using a “build” plan in place of specialty if that is what systems they would want to train for their race?


Doing back-to-back Build Phases is something that we rarely recommend. Build phases are designed to push your body to the limit by causing you to overreach your current capabilities. This overreaching is very productive when done for a limited time. Following a Build Phase, the Specialty Phase is designed to complement the Build Phase with a slight reduction in volume. This allows you to continue refining your capabilities but also recover from a big 8 Week Build Training Block.

Personally, I would do the Rolling Road Race Specialty since short, punchy climbs are exactly what this plan is about. This should serve to prepare you very well for your sportive.

The Marathon XC plan is more about extended efforts while your event is seemingly more about these short surges. Even if they are not “attacks”, they are still high power sustained for a short time, which is not what Marathon XC is designed for.

I hope this helps!


Rolling road race for sure