Excuses of the Peloton – Vuelta Edition

Chris Horner Getting “Caught Out”

In yesterday’s Stage 4, Chris Horner lost 6 seconds and the overall lead to Vincenzo Nibali. The excuse? He got “caught out.” This is a VQ favorite excuse, and it goes hand and hand with “I couldn’t move up.”

I got trapped on one side, I could see the acceleration going on the other. It wasn’t bad luck, you know it’s going to happen, there’s nothing you can do and if you get caught out….that was the way the race went.

Source: Cyclingnews

Pro Tip: Don’t be 30 riders back coming into the last kilometer if you’re the Grand Tour leader on a hilltop finish. Big shoutout to Dominic Nerz (BMC) et al for dropping the wheel that caused the time split.

Sergio Henao’s “Hunger Knock”

Henao finished way off the back on Stage 2′s mountain finish due to the “hunger knock” despite being the declared leader for Team Sky. And thank goodness, because if I had to watch another Grand Tour featuring the leader incessantly looking down at power numbers, I would probably just SCREAM.

You’re probably asking what “hunger knock” actually is. According to Wikipedia,

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. . . The British may refer to it as “hunger knock.”

Said Team Sky’s “performance manager” Rod Ellingworth:

He simply forgot to eat enough and that was that.

Source: Cyclingnews

The problem with the bonking excuse is that EVERYONE knows better, from your weekend warrior to your most fearsome powerdad.

Before the run up to the final climb a podium contender has 4 tasks:

  • Don’t crash
  • Don’t get dropped
  • Hydrate
  • Eat

Four ThingsThat’s it. It seems straightforward but every race we see some rider going OTB because of poor fueling during the race.

Stay tuned over the next couple weeks as the terrain gets hillier and the excuses get more frequent and creative.

Appalachia Visited Road Race

Cue The Final Countdown. The music fades slightly as the deep voiced narrator of your choice begins to read this post.

The entire Velo Quips team convened Friday night for a meeting of “epic” proportions. The topic? Taking on the West. . .Virginia racing scene.

3.5 hours, one stop at Sheetz, and one stop at Shell later, the three amigos arrived in the quaint town of Rowlesburg, WV. After parking in “la prima posición” between the officials’ motorbikes and the wheelcars, numbers were pinned and it was time to race wait around for an hour before their races started.

Disc brakes. So pro.

This downtime gave Andrew the opportunity to perform some last minute bike maintenance.

"Can you help me lube my chain"

“Can you help me lube my chain?”

And gave time to admire Eran’s new shoes:

Nice kicks bro!

Nice kicks bro!

Cat 1/2/3 Report

By Eran Preble

A  rather small field of 30ish riders gathered for the start of 1/2/3 road race. Everyone stood quietly, eying up each other’s equipment. Air Attacks were unfortunately present, as a few riders looked like they were ready for a moon landing instead of a mountainous road race. Everyone gave the guy with a frame pump a funny Iook, because those who did our research would realize the foreshadowing of his casual set up.

The field rolled out slowly and on the first gradual climb out of town (6 miles, 700 ft) I rolled off the front with a rider from Iron City Cycles. Towards the top of the climb we were caught as Andrew Seitz (Mr. Frame Pump) from Panther, led the charge and opened up a gap over the top of the climb. He went clear solo and the field seemed content to roll steady, keeping him just in sight.

The second climb of the day was short and steep. It led to 5-10 riders losing contact with the group as Frame Pump continued to hold a nice 30 second lead. Everyone was sure he would come back to the field but he started the first huge climb of the day well in front. About halfway up the climb the field started to split. Six riders, including myself, a Cleveland Brothers, CAT, ABRT and NCVC rider, among others, comprised the lead group. With about a half a mile to the top the CAT rider put it in high, shedding myself and one other rider, Over the top, it seemed the race had been decided. Four riders rolled up to Frame Pump and I fell back to the second group of 8. Anyone who was popped by this point was in for a long and miserable hillbilly Sunday.

The lead group hit the flat section in the middle of the race with a 30 second gap and quickly piled it on, despite our chasing efforts, By the start of the final climb (7 miles, 1200 ft),  we had given up the gun. The main group went up with everyone looking at each other and eventually Frame Pump put down the hurt on his group, going on to win solo.

In the second group things were much more tame: With a jumbo slim Jim in my back pocket as bait, I led the second group up the climb. 3 of us went over the top together, The District Velo rider and his sexy Vino-edition tarmac got tailed off on the wild and crazy fun descent. I came across in sixth disposing my descending partner in a final sprint for the ages. “Oh crap is that the finish line?” I proclaimed stupidly as I led out the sprint with 200 meters to go. Luckily I had some gas in the tank to avoid pure embarrassment.

Cat 3/4 Report

By Andrew Baker

The race saw a large sorting out over day’s first categorized climb, shedding all but 16 riders. The intermediate 20 miles were covered by a hilarious paceline of guys averaging about 19 years old and 140 lbs. Kelly Benefit Strategies riders controlled the pace of the and contributed a significant amount of work on the front to keep this group away. The second categorized climb administered even more pain on the lead group, stringing it out before the apex. Kelly Benefits crushed the field sprint of 10 riders, sending Danny Gibney to victory, with Jessie Stauffer coming in second. Ian Baun from UPMC Medical Performance rounded out the podium in third.

Personal note: On the first climb, 4.26 W/kg for 15 minutes was enough to stay with the lead group. On the second climb, I took a trip to Cramp City, and put out a measly 3.91 W/kg for 20 minutes, which resulted in a connecting flight to Drop City and a finish off the back of the lead group.

Vuelta TTT: “I’d rather crash than continue”

The Vuelta a España kicked off on Saturday with the most soul-crushing of events: the team time trial. Somewhere a small kitten dies every time a race organizer puts one of these in a race.

Back in mid-March, I found myself in one such event. There were still 4 miles left to race and I was completely blown, but I couldn’t drop off as the team needed me to score (the time is taken from the 3rd rider across the line). In the depths of my pain, I actually wished that I’d crash out so I wouldn’t have to continue.

Photo courtesy of Velonews.Competitor.com

Photo courtesy of Velonews.Competitor.com

As I was scanning the stage results from the Vuelta TTT, I was shocked to see Garmin Sharp 1:41. The cause: a crash. I can’t help but wonder if, just for a split second, one of the riders who went down wasn’t just a little bit relieved. Obviously crashing is awful and has implications for not only the riders’ placing and in many instances, their careers, but the suffering from this discipline brings the mind to a state hard to understand.

In any event, Velo Quips Approved RiderTM Dan Martin is now way off pace and, despite Johnny Weltz’s (Garmin Sharp’s Director Sportif) insistence that “we can turn this around,” it seems clear that this is yet another Grand Tour where Garmin will be chasing stage wins.

Workout of the Week: Tabatas

VO2max workouts have been the emphasis of this Workout of the Week series because it’s getting close to the end of the road season. This is because VO2max work has been shown to provide significant, somewhat unsustainable gains in fitness across many athletes. So if you’re looking to pack in a few last punches before you hang up your Zipp 404s for the season, keeping reading on!

Tabatas are evil. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more sapping 3 minutes in your life. BUT, it was this workout that spurred me out of my post-collegiate slump and into the top end of the results book all summer long!

The Protocol

  1. Warm up for 15 minutes, working in a few long sprints to loosen up your legs
  2. Ride 20 seconds at a pace you think you can handle for 1 minute (~2xFTP)
  3. Ride 10 seconds as easy as possible
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 five times for a total of 6 repetitions and 3 minutes
  5. Recover 5+ min
  6. Repeat step 2-4
  7. Cool down

I really like this workout for three reasons:

  • It doesn’t take much time or training stress
  • You can do it on the trainer
  • You can easily do it without a power meter

My first go at Tabatas this summer (over two months ago). Ideally each 20 second interval would be at the same power output (red), but nobody's perfect.

My first go at Tabatas this summer (over two months ago). Ideally each 20 second interval would be at the same power output (red), but nobody’s perfect.

If you’re not doing it on the trainer, I’ve found this is best done on a long hill with a slight (~3%) gradient as it makes it easier to hit the power targets. Happy training!

The ‘Make it Happen’ Mindset

A common phrase used in the UD Cycling Team is “make it happen,” coined by VQ contributor Eran. It’s a simple philosophy that has allowed him to be so successful, and certainly the deciding factor in my good finishes this summer. So what is it? Making it happen means throwing out your fears and doing what it takes to get a great result.

From my experience in bike racing, there are only two things you can do in a race:

  1. Makes excuses; or
  2. Make it happen

If you pay attention to those around you, it become pretty clear who falls into which camp. The people making it happen are the ones shaping the bike race; forcing people to chase them down, putting their teammate in prime position for the sprint, making a solo late move.

Don’t get me wrong, people making it happen don’t always do well – no one does. A late solo flyer, while probably the epitome of making it happen, is usually going to end up in disappointment. This is because, for the non-sprinter, it’s a hell of a smarter move than sitting in for the field sprint.

Making it happen isn’t about getting results, it’s about eliminating your fear of failure. If you did pretty much everything you could have done to do well in a race, can you really be too mad?

Christophe Riblon would never win up Alpe d’Huez by sitting in all day with the group of main favorites and conserving his energy. His only option is to go out in the breakaway and get a large enough advantage at the base to hold them off until the end. And that’s what he did.

Riblon of France celebrates as he wins the 172.5km eighteenth stage of the centenary Tour de France cycling race from Gap to l'Alpe d'Huez, in the French Alps

How can you adopt this mindset? Like any psychological change, it takes time. Some things to try to speed this along:

  • Attack when no one else is
  • Ride aggressively in group rides
  • In the last 5 miles of a race, think of nothing except where you need to be and how you will get there
  • Never make excuses
  • Attack

Pro Racing Insight: Very insightful version

I woke up this morning and flung open my laptop. I was sure I had overslept and missed the live feed of whatever race was on today. Wait, is it still the Tour of Utah? No. Eneco? No. Oh, it is the US Pro Challenge! And apparently the live video doesn’t start until 3pm today.



I am quite sad to see the Eneco Tour end. This was probably one of my favorite stage races to watch….of all time! This was a stage race for the big guys! There were time bonuses everywhere: 10 seconds for a stage win and 3 seconds at intermediate sprints! And if you were sleeping under a rock, or just past 9am, you missed Zdenek Stybar teach everyone how to ride these skinny tired road bicycles. After his performance in Eneco and Paris-Roubaix last year, I think he is my pick to win like every classics race except San-Remo. Even with T-bones as his teammate and Fabo and Peter  “loves to fondle” Sagan as stiff competition it is hard to argue with Stybar’s skills.

Oh, just riding my venge on cobbles.... gotta stand up to save my balls!

Oh, just riding my Venge on cobbles…. gotta stand up to save my balls!

So that’s something to take away from Eneco. But now onto America, Amurika, Murica! The US Pro Challenge, Tour of Colorado, the return of the Coors Classic. I was looking at some pictures from last year and I realized something: Is it possible that Garmin has to ride Shimano because of their rider Peter Stetina? Peter’s Dad is the VP of Road products for Shimano and kind of a big deal. It would be a major conflict of interest his kin was riding that SRAM crap. Haha…Daddy’s boy!

My second stunning observation is that domestic professional teams have no money. Below is a picture of a Bissel rider on what I assume is his primary bike (stage 1) with a sweet SRM PC7 head unit. The only problem is, he ain’t got no power meter! Damn too bad the Campagnolo SRM costs 4 grand and that is probably half of his yearly salary.

zero power meter= zero watts, who you foolin' with that head unit?

zero power meter= zero watts, who you foolin’ with that head unit?

Obviously you have learned a lot from me already, but I will leave you with one parting thought. Last year at the US Pro Challenge, Tyler Farrar won a field sprint… ‘Murica!

EDIT: One of our very insightful readers correctly pointed out that Bissell is sponsored by SRM which makes this rider no longer look like a fool. Unfortunately as a pro rider in a stage race not using a power meter is still foolish. YOU LOSE TEN POINTS BISSELL RIDER!

Dawg Days “Circuit Race”

First, let me get some semantics out of the way. The official USAC rulebook states:

3C1. If a circuit course is used for an individual road race, the distance should be at least 5 km per lap.

The rulebook also states:

3D1. A criterium is a closed-loop course entirely closed to traffic. The length of the course is between 800 m and 5 km. The minimum width throughout the course should be 7 m.

Since the course wasn’t completely closed to traffic (we only had the right side of the road), I suppose this race is in the gray area. Whatever. Semantics.

The Course

ain't no pedestrians here

The Cat 3s heading into the first of three roundabouts. No yielding to pedestrians today!

This course was very straightforward. Three right hand turns on three roundabouts. Turns could be taken at full speed so that wasn’t a problem, though because they were roundabouts, the field was usually funnelled to two or three wide. Last corner was something like 400m from the finish and the road was a little tight (two lanes wide) coming into the finish.

The Race

My first race as a Cat 2, I was looking to try and mix it up and get a better feel for where my form is. It was drizzling before the start and soon into the race it started raining. I don’t really mind nasty conditions, but it was a bit annoying to have the spray from the wheel in front of me coming up at my face.

It was a super fast race; we would average almost 29 mph. 5 laps in, there was a small group with a few seconds that had decent team represented so I went off in pursuit. I was joined by 6 or so guys and I (admittedly) sat on for the most part as they bridged the gap. The break ahead of us sat up as we caught them and it was all “gruppo compatto.” I sat in for a bit, just following wheels and moving up when it was easy, but when a group of guys that had all of the major teams represented got off the front, I launched a bridge attempt. I was quickly swept up, however, and after putting in a hard turn to bring things nearly back together, I went to the back to conserve for the finish.

"gruppo compatto"

“gruppo compatto”

The last few laps got a little crazy, but not as crazy as I expected. There were the inevitable late moves, and I attempted to work my way through the middle of the field like I normally did in Cat 3 races. Wasn’t to be, however, as I was a out of position with one corner to go. Nevertheless, I jumped on a guy going up the side, went by a few folks, and finished 14th – a decent result for my first 1/2/3 this season. Mark Hyatt (NCVC) won the field sprint, much to the satisfaction of his Giro Air Attack-equipped teammates.

space available

These bike racers aren’t interested in leasing, bro.


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