USA Pro Challenge power files, stage 5: Rest today to race tomorrow

You can't race if you don't recover, and the smart riders were resting en route to Colorado Springs

Editor’s note: Hunter Allen, one of the sport’s foremost experts in training with power, is the author of ”Training and Racing with a Power Meter”, the co-founder of TrainingPeaks WKO+ software and the founder of Peaks Coaching Group. Allen will join us throughout the USA Pro Challenge to look at the power numbers the sport’s top riders are laying down in Colorado.

Stage 5: Breckenridge-Colorado Springs, 117.9 miles

View this stage in the full TrainingPeaks activity viewer for Jani Brajkovic and Lucas Euser.

Stage Results
1. Tyler Farrar (USA), Garmin-Sharp, 3:58:27
2. Taylor Phinney (USA), BMC Racing Team, same time
3. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita), Team Type 1-Sanofi, s.t.
20. Janez Brajkovic (Slo), Astana, s.t.
37. Lucas Euser (USA), SpiderTech-C10, s.t.
49. Joe Dombrowski (USA), Bontrager-Livestrong, s.t.

Stage 5 for the GC contenders was all about rest — who could recover the most and save the most energy. With the main obstacle of the day being Hoosier Pass, at the beginning of the stage, the climb didn’t concern our three GC riders — Lucas Euser (SpiderTech-C10), Janez Brakovic (Astana) and Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong). Unfortunately, we didn’t get a file from Dombrowski on Friday, but I can assure you that he was relaxed through the stage.

As for Euser, he only scored racked up 220 Training Stress Score (TSS) points on the four-hour stage, showing that his intensity was in his endurance zone for most of the day. His average normalized power for the stage was 215W, so it was clearly an easy stage for him and perfect to ensure he is strong and ready for Saturday’s assault on Flagstaff Mountain.

Euser spent just over an hour not pedaling on Friday — in other words, he only pedaled 75 percent of the time. The average speed of the stage was 29.5 mph, so it’s easy to see how the generally downhill profile played a role in power output. Clearly it was the easiest stage in the race, so Euser did the right thing, enjoying the draft in the peloton and resting his legs. Stage racing is a game of energy conservation — the rider who saves energy can use it to his advantage later in the race.

Brajkovic was also in full energy-conservation mode on Friday — he did not pedal for 44 minutes of the stage. Clearly he was recovering and relaxing, saving up for the big stage-6 finish on Flagstaff Mountain.

Brajkovic always rides near the front of the peloton toward the finish. In the final 35 minutes Brajkovic did more than 30 power bursts, each over 500W, to stay near the front. That’s a lot of short, hard efforts.

But Brajkovic is the consummate professional, with years of experience, and knows just how dangerous it can be in those final urban circuits — especially when seconds separate the overall contenders.

He scored only 199 TSS points in Friday’s stage, and that means it was even easier for him than it was for Euser, as it created less training stress. For Brajkovic, the stage was in his “active recovery” zone for four hours. It’s a bit long to be considered a true recovery ride — but it’s amazing that any rider could be in his “active recovery” zone during a race.

Dombrowski, meanwhile, had rest on his mind as well. A young man who rides like a seasoned pro, he recognized the need to save his legs for the Flagstaff Mountain finish, and while his power file didn’t make it to us, he rode smart and hid well in the peloton.

While Friday’s stage didn’t seem all that exciting, it was an important one for these three GC contenders. The energy they saved will pay big dividends in the all-important stage that finishes on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.

Editor’s note: For more USA Pro Challenge race files and analysis visit