Training Feature: Getting in a break


What does it take to get into (and remain in) the break in a stage of the Tour of Qatar? Trainsharp look at Mark McNally’s power figures…

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Training Feature: Getting in a break

What does it take to get into (and remain in) the break in a stage of the Tour of Qatar?

TrainSharp coached rider, Mark McNally of team Wanty-Group Gobert has recently completed a tour of the middle-east, competing in both the Tour of Qatar and most recently, the Tour of Oman.

These races may not have drawn the excitement of the World Championships in Richmond, or the brutality of the one-day classics we are used to seeing – and let’s face it, it didn’t have the world’s cycling fans on the edge of their seats like a classic will.

That said, the Tour of Qatar attracted some of the world’s best riders, especially as one of the stages was used as a test event for this year’s World Championships.

After what Mark himself described as a crap Time Trial (he still set a 15 minute power PB) there was the fire in his belly to make something of the fourth stage. And he did exactly that.

Below we investigate what it takes to get into the break – technically, he got into two different break-aways that day…


Let’s get into the meat of the stage, with four hours in the saddle, and around 190km travelled, it was a pretty normal stage at this level. Mark averaged 253 watts (W) for the total duration of the stage, and with a normalised power of 281 W, hovering around 73 Kg, his power was pretty good, although not exceptional as he has held similar numbers for the same duration previously.


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After a few early digs, Mark found himself in a break of eight riders after 20 Km of racing. ‘Launching’ at around 1,100 W and peaking at an impressive 64 Km/h, the break was formed and remained for the middle part of the stage.


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The attack that got him in the 8 man break
Peak Power – 1076 W
Peak HR – 178 bpm
Peak Speed – 64.1 Km/h

With the key sprinters [Cavendish and Kristoff] eyeing up another showdown, the break was destined to fail and just before they hit the finishing circuit of 15 Km, Mark and his compatriots were reeled in by a split of 30 or so riders.

Settling into the echelons that formed as a result of some strong crosswinds, Mark was able to recover – slightly as his heart rate dropped from 173 bpm (at the point the group caught the beak) to around 142 bpm.

The respite was relatively short lived, as Mark soon found himself having another dig and pulling clear with three others in a second break. Holding 2:45 minutes on the main bunch at its maximum, this final ‘go-for-broke’ attack was caught with around 10 Km to the finish.


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It is actually a little difficult to distinguish the point at which the final break was formed, but throughout the four laps of the finish circuit, Mark averaged 250 W for the last hour and a half.

The key points from the day’s stage, and Mark’s individual ride were that the moments at which the decisive moves were made, were not exactly super-human feats…

In-fact, the point at which the second break was formed, Mark would have likely only been holding 330-400 W. Now, before you start to think that you could cut it in a 100+ strong peloton in the glaring heat of the Qatari desert, think again.



This was the fourth day of a tough stage race, and being able to follow the correct moves and, be conservative when it counts is just as, if not more important than actually being able to produce the power when it counts.

Mark McNally is the perfect example of a professional cyclist, whom may not have the most exceptional power, but is a true racer; proving that power to weight, and pure out-and-out power is not the sole factor in making it as a professional cyclist. A coach’s challenge is critical in identifying a rider’s strengths and weaknesses, ensuring they are making the most of every situation.

Video – Mark working with Trainsharp in the paincave

Are you making the most of what is left of the winter training, or are you unsure of your strengths and weaknesses? Contact Trainsharp to discuss your goals, and pave a way to success for 2016.



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