Tracking power: Reviewing Flèche Wallonne with Marco Pinotti

Marco Pinotti of Team High Road raced last week’s Flèche Wallonne classic in Belgium for the fourth time in his career, however this is the first time he has finished the race.

By Dirk Friel



Photo: High Road

Marco Pinotti of Team High Road raced last week’s Flèche Wallonne classic in Belgium for the fourth time in his career, however this is the first time he has finished the race.

As an added bonus, Pinotti’s teammate Kim Kirchen won the race in large part due to his team’s strategy which allowed Pinotti to be in the main breakaway of the day. That break lasted nearly two hours and covered 77 kilometers. Pinotti averaged 297watts as measured by his SRM power meter and can be accessed and download here.

In reviewing Pinotti’s file you can see the second time, of three, up the steep 1.2km Mur de Huy Marco averaged 438watts for four minutes. Keep in mind that Pinotti only weighs 149 pounds so his power to weight ratio is one of the best you’ll ever see. Also, notice how Pinotti spent 116 minutes above 332 watts within the five-hour event. Here is Pinotti’s time breakdown by minutes in each power zone:

? Active Recovery ? 95
? Endurance ? 41
? Tempo ? 39
? Threshold ? 41
? VO2max ? 30
? Anaerobic Capacity ? 45

Pinotti also provided his thoughts on his experience in the Flèche Wallonne.

VeloNews: How many times have you raced Flèche Wallonne? Do you like the course?

Marco Pinotti: I did it in 2003 and stopped after 120kms; 2004 and stopped at 140kms after working hard at the beginning. In 2007, I dropped after 160km and stopped at the foot of Mur de Huy.

The course is nice. The only thing I don’t like is that the climb (the Mur de Huy) is relatively short so positioning is essential. The first time I did it yesterday was in the big peloton and I had to stop two times because of the bottleneck. Being in the break was much easier and I could hold my pace easily. In the group there is a lot of fighting for positioning and sometimes it’s really dangerous. We ride more than 50kph and you can hardly find space to gain position unless you jump on cycling pathways or sidewalks. You can’t imagine how hard it is. That’s why I felt so good in the break.

VN: Is the Mur de Huy one of the hardest finishes of the year?

Pinotti’s profile from Flèche Wallonne


MP: It’s hard, but not impossible. If you climb it alone you realize that it’s short and you can climb it with 39×25 without problems. Of course after 200km with 10 climbs it becomes very, very hard. Brasstown Bald (in Georgia) is much harder, but it’s a real climber’s finish.

VN: How many were in the breakaway with you?

MP: First we were 19 and once we start to climb we didn’t find a good agreement and splitted many times because of the wet descent and climb where riders were forcing the pace. I was always in the front and before being caught we have been six riders for a while

VN: That was a long breakaway. Were you designated prior to the start to be in an early break?

MP: The strategy was to protect Kim in the first fast hour from the strong wind. As the wind weakened and became a headwind, I tried to be in a break, then I waited after the first climb. There were many attacks we had to cover and be present within when more than five or six riders were going. On the second climb I saw a big group going away and I closed the gap alone. It was a big effort and it took me five to six minutes to cover a gap of maybe 20 seconds.

With me in the front, I had the responsibility to stay with the leading group and I showed good legs immediately as my team did not have to work to close the gap. I stayed with the lead until it was clear that we were going to be caught. But, once it happened many riders in the peloton were tired and dropped, with Kim well protected by my other teammates and still with good legs. Everything went according the plan and he arrived with good legs at the bottom of the Mur de Huy the last time.

VN: Are you racing Liège-Bastogne-Liège and if so how many times have you
raced that classic?

MP: No, I am not as I have to ride Tour de Romandie as well. I did it in 2003 and 2004 and then I did Romandie, but no Giro d’Italia. With the Giro and Romandie it’s better to recover and let the body take the super-compensation. The fitness is already good. I just need to be fresh.

VN: How are your preparations for the Giro coming along?

MP: The Giro preparation was centered around the two camps. One in January in Mallorca and one in February in California where I did long training and built up endurance.

Then I planned three stage races: Settimana, Pays Basque and Romandie. Pays Basque gave me the confidence on the climbs that I trained well, plus the two classics were a mix that confirmed my good level. I’ve never finished that race (Flèche Wallonne) as I’ve always thought it was too much for my skills.

For more on the Performance Management Chart, and training and race files from professional riders, please visit

Dirk Friel raced professionally on the roads of Europe, Asia and he Americas. He is an Ultrafit Associate coach ( specializing in road training with power and is a co-founder of Peaksware, LLC. He may be reached by e-mail at

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