Insight: Eddie Dunbar’s Power to Weight


One of the riders of 2015 in the UK was Eddie Dunbar who now rides for Axel Merckx. His coaches at Trainsharp look at his power to weight

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Insight: Eddie Dunbar’s Power to Weight

More and more cyclists are entering the ‘power meter age’ which results in competitive and accurate data being made available to them.

This gives more and more people a greater understanding of what it takes to get up their local climb, or what they need to hold (watts) to mix it up with the world’s best cyclists. But just how out-of-reach are the numbers of the world’s best?

Trainsharp coached rider, Eddie Dunbar of Axeon-Hagens Berman Cycling team has been working with us for 10 months and we have had a chance to build up a good catalogue of data; from both laboratory tests and real-world recordings.

We were particularly impressed with a recent training session, that we thought we would share it as it makes for some interesting reading!

The session in question was a four-hour road ride that included three 18-minute threshold pushing efforts. These are designed to push a rider’s threshold power up from below their threshold power. We did, however give Eddie license to go all out on his final effort…

So let’s get into the meat of the session: Over the course of the ride, Eddie spent the majority of his time between 140 and 180 watts (his Zone 1). The distribution graph below for example, shows that he spent 2.6 % of the ride sat at 160-164 W.

Eddie img1 small

Click the image for a bigger version

The three required efforts were completed on a steady climb. Eddie has chosen to spend the majority of the winter months in Girona and has had the perfect training ground for these type of efforts.

He averaged 308 and 318 watts (W) for the first two ’restricted’ efforts, respectively. As you can see from the broken green line in the image below, these efforts were both completed at just below his threshold power.

As the power outputs are sub-threshold, we have been targeting mainly slow-twitch muscle fibres and by increasing the duration of these efforts over time, Eddie has been recruiting these fibres more effectively, and essentially, increasing the capability to maintain these power figures for longer.

Other benefits of this type of session are that Eddie has been utilising mainly fat as a fuel source, improving his fat-burning capabilities (fat is a fantastic fuel source for endurance sport) and increasing his mitochondrial density and oxygen carrying capacity.

Eddie img2_small

Total ride with the three intervals in the middle of the ride.

Eddie img3_small
The first 2 x 18 minute intervals comparison.

Where this session gets really exciting however is the final effort of the three where Eddie was given permission to go all-out for 20 minutes to see what he can produce. Eddie did just that!

Eddie averaged 360 W for 20 minutes, impressive after two and a half hours on the bike with two eighteen minute efforts already in the legs. However, what really makes this exciting, is if we take into account Eddie’s current body weight: 55 Kg.

That means Eddie Dunbar’s 20-minute power to weight ratio at the moment is 6.5 W/Kg! We have read that when Bradley (Wiggins) won gold in the 2012 Olympic Games Time Trial, he averaged around 470 W for 50 minutes so we estimate that he held 510 W for 20 minutes at around 71 Kg. From our ‘guestimations’, Bradley’s 20-minute power to weight at that time was 7.2 W/Kg.

Chris Froome’s latest data at testing transparency resulted in him producing 419 W for 20 minutes at a published 69.9 Kg. That is 5.99 W/Kg…

So it’s not bad that a 19-year-old Irish neo-pro has 6.5 when you compare him to two of Britain’s [the worlds?!] greatest cyclists.

Eddie img4_small

Of course, Eddie is a young cyclist and does not have the raw power (yet) of someone like Bradley Wiggins, or the VO2max of Chris Froome. However, with continued progress, we at trainSharp can see no reason why Eddie cannot reach the top level of his sport.

At TrainSharp, we are utilising, what we believe to be, the most advanced analysis system in athlete management. This is enabling us to manage each riders training and racing ambitions. Our coaching packages are available from novice to elite so contact us today and start your journey on the road to success with the experts.




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