Stage 17 Gap – Pinerolo (191.5km)
Stage 17 is unique in that there is a cluster of significant climbs in the middle of the stage, and then there are 40 kilometers of generally downhill roads leading to one final Category 2 climb. The Cote de Pra Martino features some of the steepest pitches in the entire Tour de France, up to 17% in sections. But even though this will not be a summit finish, a sizable gap gained on the climb will be hard to close on the way down the descent. Riders who have time to make up on their rivals, most notably Alberto Contador, Sammy Sanchez, and Ivan Basso, are likely to view the Martino climb as an opportunity to jump away and gain up to a minute before the summit. The fact that this is a relatively short climb (only 7.9 kilometers compared to the 15-20 kilometers climbs coming up later in the Alps) works in their favor. A very sharp acceleration can create a sizable gap, and the short ascent means the attacker has a better chance of holding his advantage over the summit. However, there isn’t much real estate to launch multiple attacks; so you have to make a big move and make it count.
PowerIntervals are one of the simplest workouts I use, and one of the hardest. They are simple because it’s just an all-out effort. You go as hard as you can for the duration of the interval, and since they are short (2 minutes in this case), your heart rate is likely to climb all the way through the interval. This means heart rate is a difficult measure to use in determining your intensity level; you have to go as hard as you can at the beginning and hold on as long as you can. If you’re using power, your output should start very high – as much as 150% or more of your CTS Field Test Power, and even if it falls over the course of the interval, it should always remain higher than your field test power. On a scale of 1-10, these are a 10.
The Workout: 1:30 EnduranceMiles (50-91% of Field Test average heart rate, 45-73% of Field Test average power) with Peak-and-Fade PowerIntervals. (Click for CTS Field Test Instructions)
How to do it: I prescribe two types of PowerIntervals: Peak-and-Fade and Steady-Effort. Today I want you to do Peak-and-Fade PowerIntervals. This means you attack at the beginning of the interval; accelerate hard to get to maximum effort/power/pace as quickly as you can. Because of the intensity of this acceleration, you will almost certainly slow down and/or see a decline in power output from about 30 seconds in all the way to the end of the interval. You generate a tremendous amount of lactate with your initial acceleration, and you’re riding through that lactate accumulation for the rest of the interval as your aerobic system tries to “catch up”. Keep your cadence above 100rpm for the entire 2-minute interval. Recovery between intervals is purposely short, just two minutes. You’ll start the next interval before you feel fully recovered, especially toward the end of the set. Beginners should complete 6 intervals, intermediate riders should complete 8 intervals, and advanced riders should complete 10 intervals.