Forcing the Break at the Redlands Classic Criterium

I did a bit of a contest on social media asking the internet what Alex Hoehn’s average power was in the Redlands Classic Criterium during those crucial first 5 minutes where the break away was being established.  The answers were all accurate in that the power number was big, especially considering his weight.  Let’s take a little bit deeper dive into that 5 minutes.

First, we’ll give some background for such a move.  I wrote and article a while ago about what it takes to make the break happen. The good news is that the necessary output really hasn’t changed much when looking at what it takes at a high level.  Here are the basics:

Initially, you’ll need to create space behind you.  There are lots of ways to do that and rarely does it happen the same way twice.  At some point this involves an explosive surge. Nearly all elite athletes can do this it’s the easiest part of the break away.

Next, you’ll need to keep the throttle wide open in order to establish the space.  Some elite level athletes can manage this. Not many. Usually this is the point where everyone sits on the wheel refusing to pull through, thereby nullifying the effort that was just made.  I remember speaking with a renowned World Tour rider and he told me, “Just before I jump, I look at my clock. Once I jump, I don’t even look behind me until after 2 minutes. Nothing beneficial will happen in less than two minutes so it’s not worth looking before then.”

Below is a rendering of Alex’s entire Redlands Criterium.  I like to stack the raw power data (smoothed) with the Training Peaks iLevels Heatmap Chart on WKO4. This gives me a couple ways to see how the race was playing out in real time.  Also, I was able to watch the race live on Cycle Stream TV (They have Stages 1, 2, 3 and 5 up. No criterium, yet. Fingers crossed.). I’ve also circled the 5 minutes where Alex forced the break.

Now, let’s zoom in on those key 5 minutes.

As I mentioned in my past article, in order to spring yourself free of the peloton, you’ll need to be in position and be rested.  Glancing at Alex’s heat map, we see a drop in those high power surges for a couple minutes before he makes his move. It’s that relative resting that made the initial surge possible.  Next, by looking just above at his output, and from watching the stream live, Alex made some very key decisions.

The jump was hard enough to create space. However, there was still a need to expand the space. Alex took that sage advice from his World Tour associate and for ~90 seconds he put his head down and just rode, hard. It’s not until after the block of orange in the middle when a 303 Project rider finally came through and did a turn on the front.

Next, Alex knew that the two of them simply were not enough to keep the break alive.  The speed of the peloton was too fast and the necessary output for two riders to stay away was too much.  They needed help. More riders bridged across sure enough and with the necessary numbers and teams represented, Alex gave another big dig to open the gap further, making it unbridgeable for the remainder of the day’s stage.

Some general stats regarding Alex’s Redlands Stage 4 effort to force the break:

  • Average Power: 387W
  • Normalized Power: 397W
  • Intensity Factor: 1.17
  • Kilojoules (kJ): 116
  • kJ above his FTP: 71

Thanks for reading.

About the Author: Adam Mills is the former Director Sportif and late Performance Director of the UCI CT: Elevate- KHS Pro Cycling Team.  graduated with a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas in 2005 and has raced at the elite level since 2002. His true talent comes with his ability to combine his vast experience with sport and his knowledge of exercise science. He is indeed a student of science, sport, athletic performance, strategy, and tactics. He continuously educates himself by keeping up to date with current research trends and methods in sport and his clients have reaped the benefits from this work with over 15 national championships in 11 disciplines on two continents. Adam is able to incorporate these attributes on a daily basis to help his clients reach and exceed their goals whether they are a beginner or a seasoned professional. Learn more about Adam and Source Endurance here.