Michal Kwiatkowski’s world championship Sunday came down – after more than 6 hours and almost 5,500 calories burned – to the final 10 minutes. What did he have left? Did he have the power… the ability to recover… the accelerations? Kwiatkowski’s stunning victory at the UCI Road World Championships road race in Spain provided a definitive answer, and the data provided by his Quarq for Specialized power meter provided definitive context into the training and strategy behind such an effort.
We thank Omega Pharma – Quick-Step for providing Kwiatowski’s race-winning power file to SRAM and Quarq. Below is an analysis by Quarq Power Coach Gord Fraser and the experts at Training Peaks. We also thank Kwiatowski, who regularly trains and races with his Quarq power meter.
Kwiatkowski won the Road World Championships with a daring breakaway in the final kilometers. The 24-year-old rider from Poland bridged to a breakaway, then attacked out of that break to hold off a charging group containing many of the day’s favorites. With the right mix of tactics and talent, Kwiatkowski was able to produce an amazing ride. Here is a look at his Quarq power data over 253km and six and a half hours of racing.
View Michal Kwiatkowski’s Quarq power file at Training Peaks
Teamwork, Riding Near Front
The 14-lap course of 18.2kms each had a total of 4,200 meters of elevation. Kwiatkowski’s Polish teammates did a lot of work in the early part of the race. In the first six hours and 20 minutes of racing, Kwiatkowski was well protected by his teammates, but he still did plenty of work.
• Normalized Power of 306 watts
• 3.54 w/kg Average Power
• Peak 1 hour power of 300 watts, or 4.42 w/kg
• Average heart rate of 148 bpm
• 5,490 calories burned
Quarq Power Coach Gord Fraser’s Take: “Poland really stepped up to ensure the pace was high to start controlling the break. I think this was the key to the entire race. The benefits were threefold: First, and most obvious was to keep the gap to the break in check. With a max advantage of a whopping 15 minutes plus, somebody had to flinch and say enough’s enough. Second, by taking the front it allowed their team leaders (Kwiatkowski and Maciej Paterski) to ride shotgun in the very front of the peloton. This allowed them to carry speed in all the corners and eliminate excess braking and re-acceleration. Over the span of a 2-3 hour chase these saved efforts due to positioning alone lowered the overall workload and Normalized Power substantially. I’m willing to bet riders further back expended more energy, crucial to have on hand in the closing stages of a race. Third, and as an often-protected rider during my career I can’t tell you how motivating it is to have a team sacrifice and work for you. The sense of re-payment to that effort is immense, and a good rider will summon that little extra for fear of letting down his teammates.”
The Winning Moves
With 7km to go and a group of four riders off the front, Kwiatkowski set off on what would eventually be his winning move.
• For 34 seconds, Kwiatkowski averaged 436 watts, or 6.43 w/kg.
• His peak power during this burst was 928 watts
• His average heart rate was 161 bpm
• He was able to average 53 km/h (33mph) to reach the group
• His average cadence was 83 rpm.
These impressive numbers, especially considering the workload he had already put out for over six hours in the saddle.
After catching the group, Kwiatkowski took a very short break and sat in. With a narrow lead over the approaching peloton that included many of the favorites, Kwiatkowski couldn’t afford to wait too long. After less than a minute of rest from his big effort, he once again hit the pedals hard and went for the win. His attack lasted around 3 minutes.
• His peak wattage occurred 1 minute into the attack at 706 watts
• Kwiatkowski held a Normalized Power of 501 watts for the entire attack
• His w/kg for the full attack was 7.02 w/kg
• His average heart rate was 179 bpm
• His average cadence was 93 rpm
Again, these numbers are incredibly impressive on their own but are made more so when you take into account how late in the race they occurred.
Quarq Power Coach Gord Fraser’s Take: “Another facet we have yet to talk about was Kwiatkowski’s descending skills. It was on the descent towards the base of the last climb up the Mirador that the winning surge was made…. The numbers are impressive, especially when you take into account the stature of the rider in question. I wouldn’t think that Kwiatkowski tips the scales north of 140 pounds so that makes the stats even more impressive.” (OPQS’ website lists Kwiatkowski’s weight at 68 kg, just under 150 lbs.)
The Final Push
In the final stretch, Kwiatkowski was being chased by a formidable group looking to catch him on the line. While he was able to coast the final few meters, the last 1.7 kilometers were not a procession for the eventual winner.
• He held an average power of 415 watts
• Kwiatkowski held an average speed was 59.9 km/h (37mph)
• His average heart rate was 179 bpm
• His average cadence was 102 rpm
Quarq Power Coach Gord Fraser’s Take: “Cycling has always been an unpredictable sport. Though at times, tactics and audacity can take a back seat to conservative racing lately. While these numbers paint what it takes statistically to net one of the biggest prizes in the sport- the coveted rainbow jersey, it’s refreshing to see within this Quarq file that this victory was accomplished by a willingness to go all or nothing with a late breakaway.”
Kwiatkowski’s overall peak values for the day:
Peak 1 minute: 552 watts
Peak 20 minute: 336 watts
Peak 1 hour: 300 watts
Peak Speed: 86.1 kh/h (53mph)
Peak HR: 185bpm
Peak Cadence: 128rpm
Total Calories Burned: 5670 kj
A rider that regularly uses his Quarq power meter in training and racing, Kwiatkowski knew exactly what he would be capable of on race day. With strong teammates, a smart plan and of course tremendous fitness, Kwiatkowski was able to make the most of this rare opportunity.
All photos ©BrakeThrough Media
Power analysis from Training Peaks