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This year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge really came down to the wire in a tense final ITT which decided the overall standings bravely fought between Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team, Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda. You know you have experienced an exciting race when it comes down to the final day and to prove it we have powerfiles to show us just what it took to win a stage coupled with survival of the full 7 stages.
We have the stage winning files of Jens Voigt and Rory Sutherland, both of these riders are huge public favourites, Jens for his legendary exploits over many years as a Pro and for Rory achieving a magnificent win in his adopted home town on top of one of American cycling’s most iconic mountains, Flagstaff.
Jens did not only add an epic win to his palmares today but he further added to his persona of being the ‘hardest man in cycling’ or ‘in any sport’ if you look at his famous exploits of the years. His solo win was completed in extreme conditions battling wind and rain along with high altitude that has an extreme effect on each rider’s ability to perform, it is well documented that those who live at altitude are more adaptive to these conditions and can perform more consistently than their lower living fellow riders. Just as well Jens is not your average rider, rain nor altitude affect his ability to hold off a chasing peloton for 140km.
If you take into account altitude and it's affect on power output it can reduce functional threshold between 10-20% therefore these watts are very impressive for the big German. His ability to dictate an extremely hard pace on the first climb of the day, Independence Pass, and continue to produce a hard tempo for the next 130km is the trait of a true experienced rider with a big engine. He performed 365w (4.7 w/kg) on the 23km Independence Pass which took him 56min to complete, this would have been an effort close to his threshold at this altitude.
Performing a sustained threshold effort for close to 1hr at the start of the stage and continuing to ride around 80-85% of his threshold for the next 2½ hrs, holding off the peloton, is a visible show of extreme physical power and the mental ability to put yourself in the ‘hurt box’ for a long time. This ability to suffer and keep suffering is what this sport is about and no better man to show you this ability than Jens. As the bunch was breathing down his neck in the final kilometres and the fight for GC was being played out behind, Jens performed another threshold effort of 350w (4.4w/kg) on the last climb of Beaver Creek which lasted around 9½ min for 3.8km.
Remember...that by the start of the final climb he had ridden for 3hr 45min at an average of 327w normalized and 3994kj, then he had to do the final push for the line on Beaver Creek.