Feature: What it takes to win CiCLE

Following up the interview with Dan on how to win CiCLE, we  look at the data from Dan Fleeman’s win at the 2017 CiCLE Classic on his Kuota Khan

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Feature: What it takes to win CiCLE

Article from the DigDeep Coaching

The Cicle Classic’s is the UK’s equivalent to a ‘Belgium Classic’ with it’s rough roads through categorised sections and punchy climbs that litter the 189km of racing. With 2100m of altitude gain and 11 ‘Rough gravel sectors’ to tackle, the Cicle Classic held in the Rutland area of England is one of the most prestigious one day’s races as it carries its UCI 1.2 category.

The 2017 race was predictable in the sense of its selective nature with riders facing punctures, crashes and splits occurring on the hard dusty roads of Rutland and the surrounding country side. Eventual winner on the day was Dig Deep Coaching’s very own director and co-owner Dan Fleeman of Metaltek Kuota RT in a time of 4:41:55. We will take look at data from a number of riders who fought it out on English country side and try and divulge what it takes to be part of the Elite level riders in the UK.

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The start of the Cicli Classic is formed around 2 laps of Rutland water which totalled about 43km of racing on relatively flat loops which seen the riders gain 260m of altitude in this time, meaning the majority of climbing starts as they finish the two opening laps. No real breakaway was able to make any advantage from the main peloton during this time, but the racing was fast and aggressive as many riders fought to make a selection on these opening laps.

One of those rides which was on the aggressive side of the bunch was Conor Swift of Madison Genesis who was to go on a finish a fantastic 12 place. Conor had his peak powers for 8-10min in the very first 8km of racing which shows he was keen to make it hard from the start and play a part in the first part of the race in the opening laps. In the first 10min of racing Conor was to average 330w, 4.40 w/kg, hitting a max of 870w, 11.67 w/kg, in this time.

Along with Conor we also had one of the Pre-race favourites Chris Opie from Bike Channel Canyon hitting his peak 10min power for the day in the first 14km of racing. Here Chris averaged 330w, 3.75 w/kg in this time as he made sure that his team was represented at the front in the opening kilometres of the race. Unfortunately for Chris his race was to be hampered by a number of punctures, like many others in the race, but was to go on and finish in 25th place 2min down on the winner.

In the first hour of racing around the reservoir, eventual winner Dan Fleeman was to ride at an average power of 244w, normalized power of 299w, 4.67 w/kg, with an average speed of close to 45kph. This shows that even for those riders who were looking to keep their reserves for later in the race that the effort to keep out of trouble and maintain a safe position in the peloton still required a high normalized power. Teammate George Pym of Metaltek Kuota RT who also had an average power of 230w, normalized power of 285w, 4.07 w/kg on the opening 43km of racing.

Onto the Gravel

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As the riders left the opening circuits they were to face the opening gravel sectors and short climbs, this was to be enough for a lead break of 8 riders to forge clear after the opening sector of ‘Barleyberg’ and on the approach to the first KOH of the day Cold Overton Berg after 60km of racing done. We can see from data of rider Matthew NOWELL Bike Channel Canyon data who was part of this main break on the effort and speed needed to get into this move. On the downhill into Langham after the first gravel section of Barleyberg Matthew had an average speed of 60kph for 3km into Langham at 269w average maxing out at 776w. The pace was set to continue as the break hit the first climb of the day shortly after making a gap on the bunch, Matthew again had to dig along with his fellow breakaway companions by riding at 363w for 2:15 on the 1km climb of Cold Overton Berg.

Over the next 104km, 2hr 40min of the race in which the majority of this 8 man led breakaway was intact before it was narrowed down to 4 leaders but the time they hit Stapelford, Matthew had averaged 259w, normalized 330w, 4.78 w/kg with an average speed of 39.5kph. If we compare this section to that of eventual winner Dan Fleeman who was maintaining position within the chasing peloton and covering any major splits we see still some high powers just to keep in contention. Dan averaged 248w, normalized 315w, 4.85 w/kg for the 2hr 40min which was from km 59 to km 162 in the race.

One of the hardest gravel sections of the race is on the ‘Somerberg’ section which lasts 1.7km and see’s the riders on some lose gravel but also with a climb within this, in the past this section has proved decisive in the overall victor. On this section Matthew Nowell was still in the lead group and on his first passage on this section (the race then did it in reverse later) Matthew averaged 296w for the 2:36 it had taken him to pass over this.

The chase was well and truly on within the bunch as Conor Swift of Madison Genesis passed this section in 2:48 at 268w average, 3.6 w/kg but maxed out at an impressive 1,432w, 19.22 w/kg halfway through the section. At this stage the break still had an advantage but the pace which was being set over these hard sections was soon to see the leading group split in two with 4 leaders taking up the reins on leading the race.

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The final

With the race now narrowed down to a group of 4 in the lead and a bunch of approx. 30 riders chasing with 30km to go, but with many teams still not represented in the lead and fresher legs their gap was soon to fall. Matt Holmes was one of the most aggressive of the day as he led the charge and went to join the leading riders, which only was 4 left of the initial breakaway, then dropping them as he approached the final sections of the race with 10-15km to go.

It was on this final finish circuit which consisted of the climb on Burton road and the final gravel section of Sawgate Lane. These points where to be pivotal in the fight for the podium placings. On the climb of Burton road Dan made his first move to narrow down the selection by attacking on the drag out of Melton with around 13km to go. Here Dan produced 640w, 10w/kg for 30sec maxing at 977w, 15.27w/kg. This was not enough to gain an advantage but it was enough to start and make a better selection from those who were left in the front for the final.

Dan was to continue his push to narrow down the front of the race to just a handful of riders and try and bridge to the now lone leader of Matt Holmes. On the hill which was on the approach to the final sector of Staplepark, Dan again accelerated which seen him breakaway from the main group and get enough of a gap to bridge across to Kiwi rider Hayden McCormick of ONE Pro Cycling who was between the chasing bunch and the lone leader.

On this acceleration of 32sec Dan again produced a high power of 574w, 8.96 w/kg with a max of 915w, 14.3 w/kg. These two max 30sec anaerobic efforts came within 7min of each other and it was already after 4 ½ hrs, 180km of racing. The final sector of Staplepark was to be taken full gas if the leading trio was to come together and gain enough advantage to take them in the final 10km into the finish.

On Staplepark Dan rode the 1.4km in 2:21 on the gravel roads at an average of 405w, 6.23 w/kg averaging over 36kph on this hard section of the route. If we compare this to Rory Townsend who was in the chasing group behind Dan at this stage, on this same section of road Rory did it in 2:32 (11 sec slower) at an average of 285w, 3.9w/kg. On the exit of this section the leading riders had around 10-15sec advantage which seen them have to make a committed effort to the finish if they were to stay away.

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On final 7.5km to the finish we can see a comparative of effort between Dan in the front with fellow escapee Hayden McCormick and that of Rory Townsend and Conor Swift who were in the chasing group.

Last 7.5km – approx. 11min in duration

Rider                    Ave pwr w/kg    Max pwr w/kg

Dan Fleeman     #1st     350w     5.46    800      12.5

Rory Townsend    #5th    296w     4.05    1230     16.85

Conor Swift      #12th   289w      3.88    1057     14.19


You can see from the above the difference in effort to ride in a 2up group off the front and those in a chasing group behind. The requirement to do around 1.2-1.4 w/kg more to sustain a lead and fight it out for the sprint. On the final finish circuit of 17km Dan had an average normalized power of 371w, 5.8 w/kg for 24min, this final effort of 371w came AFTER accumulating 262 TSS with a normalized power of 308w, 4.81w/kg for 4hr 20min. Putting this into perspective, it is the equivalent of doing a Threshold effort (similar w/kg to many 10mile TT efforts) after already doing 4 ½ hrs of hard riding.

In a fantastic race which seen many of the UK’s leading riders take on International competition and again provided exciting racing for both the riders and fans.

Congratulations to Dan Fleeman on a fantastic win and to the Metaltek Kuota RT on the work taken to deliver their rider into the final of the race.

Dig Deep Coaching is a global coaching company that works with athletes of all levels across the following disciplines: road, track, cyclocross, MTB and triathlon.







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