Power Analysis: Giro d’Italia, stages 18, 20

TrainingPeaks takes a closer look at Rory Sutherland's power data from stages 18 and 20 at the Giro d'Italia

Australian Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Tinkoff) has once again shared some of his TrainingPeaks race files from the Giro d’Italia. Today, we examine his data from stages 18 and 20. We would have included stage 19 in this analysis, but the stage was canceled because of bad weather.

Stage 18: Mori to Polsa, 20.6km (TT)

1. Vincenzo Nibali, Astana
2. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi
3. Damiano Caruso, Cannondale
140. Rory Sutherland, Saxo-Tinkoff

See Sutherland’s TrainingPeaks file.

Stage 18 was a 20.6-kilometer, uphill time trial, and Sutherland didn’t go near his maximum effort.

“Took it easy, watched SRM and tried to stay around 400w,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland spent the entire Giro protecting his teammate Rafal Majka, who was in a tight battle with Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) for the white (Best Young Rider) jersey. Therefore, his job in the time trial was to simply make the time cut, take it easy, and conserve energy for the final mountain stages.

Although 400 watts is not taking it easy for most of us, we can see from the file that this was indeed the case for Sutherland. His threshold is about 430 watts and he averaged 404 watts, or about 94 percent of his threshold. Looking at his heart rate, we see a very steady line, averaging 152 bpm. Even in the last 5 minutes of the race, his average heart rate is 156, about 24 beats below his threshold of 180, or about 87 percent of his threshold. The lower heart rate values can be attributed to having been racing for almost three weeks; overall fatigue can lead to lower heart rates in later stages of grand tours.

Since this was an uphill time trial, Sutherland’s watts per kilogram is also worth noting. While not a pure climber (he is 6-foot-2 and weighs 172 pounds), Sutherland does climb quite well and was a worthy lieutenant in this grand tour. Sutherland ascended the climb at a rate of 5.2 w/kg staying comfortably below his estimated 5.5 w/kg functional threshold power.

Stage summary
20.6 km
1247 KJ
76.5 TSS
408 Normalized Power (NP)
404 Average Watts (5.3 w/kg)
152 Average Heart Rate
87 Average Cadence
23.5 kph Average Speed
1181 m/hr VAM

Stage 20: Silandro to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 210km

1. Vincenzo Nibali, Astana
2. Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo, Colombia
3. Rigoberto Uran, Sky
129. Rory Sutherland, Saxo-Tinkoff

See Sutherland’s TrainingPeaks file.

Due to the cancellation of stage 19, this would be the final mountain stage in the Giro and the last chance for a major GC shake-up, as the final stage was a flat route traditionally reserved for the sprinters. As had been the scenario for almost the entire race, the riders were racing in dreadful conditions. Nibali won the stage, attacking with 2.5km to go and soloing to the top of the snow-covered Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

The riders would crest five categorized climbs during the stage. Sutherland stayed with team leader Majka as long as possible, and then continued on to plow through the cold snow to finish 129th, 19:02 behind Nibali.

Sutherland put in his biggest effort of the day and hit his 20-minute peak power on the third categorized climb, Passo Giau. He averaged 357 watts, generating 4.7 w/kg. Remember, this is racing in frigid conditions after completing 19 stages.

Passo Giau
10.5 km
318 NP
360 Average Watts (4.7 w/kg)
153 Average Heart Rate
91 Average Cadence

After this big effort, it appears Sutherland settled into a steady pace all the way to the finish. During the final 1:15 of racing, he completed two categorized climbs and averaged 294 watts (3.9 w/kg).

Summary of the final 75 minutes
22 km
1335 KJ
69 TSS
320 NP
294 Average Watts (3.9 w/kg)
140 Average Heart Rate
69 Average Cadence

Ultimately, Majka would finish 10th on the stage and 7th overall. In the Best Young Rider classification, he finished second to Betancur by 41 seconds.

Stage 20 summary
210.2 km
5846 KJ
318.7 TSS
319 NP
280 Average Watts (3.7 w/kg)
134 Average Heart Rate
85 Average Cadence

Finishing such a demanding Giro should provide Sutherland with some extra strength and fitness once he recovers and gets back to racing. If things go well, this could be a positive step towards the next level of Sutherland’s career at the UCI WorldTour level.

Editor’s note: Thanks to, we are looking at Saxo-Tinkoff rider Rory Sutherland’s power data from stages 18 and 20 of the Giro d’Italia. Today, Shawn Heidgen, a USA Cycling certified coach, former professional cyclist, and Education Specialist at TrainingPeaks, recaps Sutherland’s data from the three-week race. For more, follow Shawn on Twitter.