e-Racing: trainSharp Tips

With normal racing still a long way off, e-Racing has replaced racing on the road and we have a feature from trainSharp coach and Sport’s Scientist, Alex Welburn with tips on this new and developing form of cycle racing

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e-Racing: trainSharp Tips

With racing in the UK and around the globe currently on pause until later on in the year, many have turned to e-Racing to get their fix. Platforms such as Zwift offer a large variety of e-Racing. Typically they range from 20-45 minutes.

Choosing the right Category and Races
The first thing you need to get right is the category you plan to race in, below is what Zwift recommends for an individual’s respective category:

A: 4.0 W/Kg FTP or higher
B: 3.2 W/Kg to 4.0 W/Kg FTP
C: 2.5 W/Kg to 3.2 W/Kg FTP
4D: Under 2.5 W/Kg FTP

There are various types of courses to choose from, such as the flatter ones that favour raw power or courses that have short and punchy climbs for those who are good at producing repeated efforts above threshold or above their maximal aerobic power (MAP* – Maximal Aerobic Power (see below)). It even has those races with longer climbs for the riders who can sustain a high W/Kg for a significant amount of time.

Courses will favour different types of riders; similar to that in road racing, but make no mistake, e-Racing is very different and requires a different set of tactics. Many professional riders have said how hard e-Racing can be.

The Start
Typically it will begin with a mass start, with a countdown. The pace off the line will be fast, expect to be close to your MAP* for the first couple of minutes, with a near all out sprint to start with. Everyone typically starts sprinting a few seconds prior to actually starting, so they are at full speed right at the word go! So make sure you are clipped in and ready to go, otherwise you could find yourself in the unfortunate position of chasing groups the entire race.

As you can imagine the start is a key part in e-Racing, you may not win here but you can certainly lose, often this can be where group selection is made. Ensuring you are in those front groups is key. You are looking at over 7.0 W/Kg for the first 30 seconds (this will of course depend on the category you are in), and it is often one of the most intense parts of an e-Race.

Lance Childs hard at work

When you hit a climb it will be tough, the shorter the climb, the harder everyone will go. So make sure you know the route profile as you could be caught off guard and find yourself out the back of the group. On the right hand side of the screen when racing, you can see the W/Kg of all the riders next to you, so it can give you a rough indication of how hard you need to go to stay in the group.

Unless you are going for a breakaway type effort, there is little advantage in going harder than everyone else. Having the ability to go above threshold and close to your MAP repeatedly will be beneficial. MAP is what we often test with our coached riders to assess their aerobic capabilities. If you are really into your e-Racing or racing in general and want to improve, this is an aspect of performance you should look to improve.

Race Power Data

This power file was taken from a trainSharp coached rider who has been racing the British Cycling e-Racing series and finished in the top 10. As you can see, they start hard for the first couple of minutes, sitting at just under 500 W. Unlike in road racing, where you can freewheel and soft tap on the pedals – in e-Racing this is certainly not the case, you will always be putting the power down and staying very close to threshold**.

Those short hard accelerations up the climbs are above 9.5 W/Kg for just over 40 seconds with the sprint being nearly 20 seconds above 13 W/Kg, with a peak power of 17.8 W/Kg. This is impressive considering the repeated hard efforts prior and very little recovery time, all this in just under 22 minutes!

The Sprint
For a race finish or when you are trying to get away an Aero Power up makes you more aerodynamic for 15 seconds, which can really help you in a sprint. Do take into consideration how long your power up will last though, as you don’t want to time it wrong. There are a few other power up’s that can either make you invisible for a short period of time, reduce your weight, or various others; utilising these to be the most beneficial to you will really help with your result.

The intensity will increase for a sprint as you approach the finish, so be prepared to really have to push hard. One other aspect to note is when you produce 8 W/Kg or more your W/Kg number on the side of the screen will turn orange making it evident that you are putting in an effort, so if you want to try and sneak away don’t make it too obvious.

Here is another example showing just how hard the start of an e-Race can be, the first 4 minutes were nearly 60 Watts above threshold** power before it settles down close the threshold for the remainder of the race, with another increase up the climb and a final push for the sprint.

Key Performance Areas
Overall, if you want to perform well in e-Racing, having a high functional threshold** power with the ability to perform repeated efforts near your MAP are key, as well as the ability to still be able to perform a good sprint at the end after this short and intense style of racing.

You are looking towards the 4.8 W/Kg+ mark for the average power in an A race – which can be anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, expect the shorter ones to have a much higher average power. Being able to produce 6-6.5 W/Kg for 5 minutes as a benchmark for those intense climbs, and above if they are only 60-120 seconds in length. Don’t forget these aren’t just one off maximal efforts but power produced throughout the racing.

trainSharp Tips

1. Have a good warm up, just like you would in a cyclocross or mountain bike race where the start is fast and intense.

2. Choose a course that suits you and make sure you know the profile.

3. Be ready to go repeatedly above threshold.

4. Start hard, you will be close to your MAP* for the first few minutes before the pace settles down, so do not miss those selective groups

If you are looking to win, expect to have a threshold power over 5 W/Kg with the ability do to 5 minutes close to the 7 W/Kg mark. No matter if you are looking to do your first e-Race or you are wanting to get that first win, we at trainSharp can help you work on those key areas which will help you get the results you have the potential to achieve. We will help identify your strengths and weakness, allowing us to optimise your training so you can get results.

* Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) VO2 max is important, but arguably MAP is more important. This is the power that you produce at VO2 max, i.e. the most amount of power you can produce whilst still utilising oxygen and using the aerobic energy system. This is one of the key variables we measure to track performance changes.

** Threshold: This can be described as the most amount of power you can sustain for approximately an hour

trainSharp ran the Zwift academy in 2017 & 2018 and have helped our riders compete in the British cycling e-National Champs and various other e-Racing types. For more information about how we can help you, please contact paul@trainsharp.co.uk

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