Stage 04: Modbury to Tanunda (126.5km)

Friday, 25nd January 


Serge Pauwels’ Specialized Tarmac SL4 at the startline (Photo: Todd Norbury)

Serge Pauwels looking relaxed before a hectic stage around Stirling. (Photo: Todd Norbury)












The 4th Stage of the Tour Down Under was always going to be vital not so much in terms of general classification time gained or lost, but rather in avoiding exactly what we saw occur at the end. Nervous riders  combined with some road furniture (well, lets be honest, they were parked cars) and sprinters lead out trains jostling for position resulted in several bad crashes and some busted riders and bikes.

Fortunately our rider for this week Serge Pauwels was able to keep clear of those that came down and he still sits a handy 19th on the GC standings, with today’s Willunga Hill stage representing an excellent opportunity to move up.

Only 32 seconds separates Pauwels from the race leader, Geriant Thomas. Although this is the first race of the season, any finish in the top 10 will carry some valuable UCI World Tour points for the team.

With all this in mind, aside from staying upright, the other goal today would have once again been energy conservation. Looking at the ride summary, we can see this is precisely what occurred.

Stage 4 ride summary

AP and NP both marginally lower than yesterday, however 500 less calories burned over the day’s ride. Running with our rough estimation of a 367w FTP, only 18% of the total ride was spent at Vo2 max or above. Only at 11% was at threshold. Leaving over two thirds of the race was at a comfortable power and allowing him to conserve.

The ride plot additionally shows slightly more opportunities for the OPQS rider to freewheel (more saved energy).

Stage 4 ride plot (smoothed 30s)

These facts are also confirmed by the critical power plot.

Stage 4 critical power


On this plot the black line (representing the stages data) all falls comfortably under the previously established ‘best power’ values.

You might have noticed a common theme, which is (unlike training) the goal when racing is trying to get the lowest power possible. The man who is the freshest when the critical moments of a race arrive typically tends to do the best. Pauwels is doing an excellent job of this. It might not make every stage the most riveting when analysing, however the bigger picture it provides is how to dose your efforts and ride a smart stage race.

Many thanks again to Serge Pauwels, Omega-Pharma Quickstep and SRAM for the data. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a juicy power profile from the queen stage. All signs point to Serge setting himself up for a shot at the GC, best of luck to him.


Thanks to Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Quarq.  For more information please click on the logos below.




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