Ever wondered how much power the Pro’s push their pedals with during a days racing? Once rare even within the pro peloton, the powermeter is now common in the pro peloton and widely regarded as essential training equipment.

Thanks to Omega Pharma-QuickStep (OPQS), SRAM and Quarq RIDE has been given access to the power file of one OPQS rider at the completion of each stage of this year’s Tour Down Under.

The beauty of a power file is that there is a huge amount of information to view. However, unless you are already familiar with powermeters and analysis, it can make understanding the data (and associated acronyms) a bit of a jungle.

Below is a quick overview of both what a powermeter is and a definition of the main acronyms that will be used throughout our week of stage-by-stage analysis. Hopefully by the end of the week you’ll not only have a much better understanding of not only what a professional WorldTour rider is able to produce each day, but also what precisely a powermeter does and how you can  break any cyclist’s performance down to a set of numbers.

Quarq powermeter: a device that measures the power output, via strain gauges, which a rider is applying to the crank via the bikes pedals.

Average power (AP): is the average wattage held throughout an entire ride.

Normalised power (NP): as races (like a criterium) can include lulls where there is no pedalling, it is possible to have two rides with the same average power however with one being significantly harder than the other. NP is therefore an estimate of the power that you could have maintained for the same physiological “cost” if your power output had been constant and is more reflective of ride intensity than AP.

Functional Threshold Power (FTP): is the power that a rider can hold for 60 minutes. Common calculation of this is taking 95% of a 20 minute power test.

Power to weight (w/kg):  looking at power as an absolute number does not give the whole picture, as a heavier rider can produce more watts than one who is lighter. Dividing power by a riders weight gives a more in depth understanding. A common example you may have heard is 5.5w/kg, which is the minimum ratio a professional rider needs to attain for a 20 minute effort.

Don’t be daunted if they get a little overwhelming, by Sunday they’ll be rolling off your tongue like a coach (or the local racers at the coffee shop each morning).

Production of RIDE #59 is well underway. Stay tuned for the next issue which will have a comprehensive review of bikes from all teams in the WorldTour.



RIDE Media publishes RIDE Cycling Review, a quarterly magazine all about cycling.
RIDE Cycling Review is now available in a digital format via Zinio.