By Dirk Friel and Hunter Allen
Positioning is everything on days such as Sunday’s wet and cold stage between Davis and Santa Rosa. It was only stage 1, but the day proved to be a costly one for many of the pre-Tour favorites.
Gustav Larsson was one of the danger men that just happened to have a flat tire at just the wrong time. George Hincapie had just the same story to tell Sunday.
Gustav flatted at about the 50-mile mark just before the day’s first major climb of Howell Mountain. Gustav chased back onto the main group with George Hincapie, and all the while team Astana was setting a quick tempo on the front which resulted in a breakaway which included Lance, Levi and several other Astana riders and general classification threats. Gustav’s puncture meant he never had a chance to make it into the “Astana” group, but luckily he did have two Team Saxo Bank teammates, Jens Voigt and Andy Schleck, make the important split.
Team Saxo Bank’s Bobby Julich commented on the weather saying, ” I’ve never seen so much rain fall within a race. These guys had so much clothing and layers on. I hope that the weather gets better because it was hard to watch many riders suffering so bad with ‘heavy’ legs due to the cold weather from the warmth of the car.”
Today’s stage was actually not too strenuous on Gustav when you look at the power data. He averaged 241 watts and his maximum 20-minute power value was only 380 watts, well below the 400 watts he can maintain for a solid hour. However, the cold and wet conditions of today’s stage could cause some additional muscle soreness and may make recovery a bit more difficult overnight. Hopefully Gustav has a good night’s sleep and can recover well before another possible cold and wet stage Monday along the California coast line.
Gustav’s thoughts are currently on Monday’s stage now that his individual general classification result is no longer a main goal. He is focused on stage 2 and said, “tomorrow has a hard climb at the start where most likely a break will go. There is also a big climb at the end of the stage. What I will do all depends on what the team needs in order to help Jens Voigt and Andy Schleck.”
The weather for stage 2 will be a concern again for the riders. Gustav mentioned “tomorrow is important to be in a good position on the descents as well as on the climbs. Just like today, positioning will be everything.”
Note: Gustav’s SRM zero-offset may need to be calibrated since his watts never go to absolute zero when he is coasting. We hope to have this taken care of for tomorrow’s stage.
For Tour of California race data throughout the entire race please visit TrainingPeaks.com.
Dirk Friel raced professionally on the roads of Europe, Asia and the Americas and is a co-founder of TrainingPeaks.com. He may be reached by e-mail at Dirk@Peaksware.com.
Hunter Allen who is widely respected as an expert in coaching and training athletes with a power meter and co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter.” He may be reached at Hunter@peakscoachinggroup.com.