Delayed but not forgotten. The Giro road race is a great and selective course. There are enough tough rollers and hard little pitches to ensure a deserving winner.
The thing about bike racing is that the strongest and fastest riders are not always the ones that win the races and on this course, the deserving winner will be the rider who is not only strong enough to get up the climbs, but also smart enough to save their energy until it counts.
We have all heard riders talking about “matches”. In a race like the Giro di Coppi, everybody’s goal is to conserve their matches so that they will be able to put out the power that they need to in order to cover the late attacks or even sprint to the line. The trick is that not everyone has the same number of matches in their book of matches, but once you use up all your matches, your energy will be gone and the likelihood of a win is pretty low.
When it comes to training, one of the goals of any workout is to learn what you can do. How many times can you do 500 watt for 50 seconds and still be able to do it again? How hard can I ride a 3 minute climb and still be able to put out enough power to stay in the field? What do my matches feel like and how many do I have? If you are doing hill sprint in your training and each hill is 1 – 2 minutes and you can do 10 of them as long as you don’t go harder then 475 watts, then you will know that attacking a 4 minute climb at 500 watts may be a bad idea. Training is not only to prepare you physically, but also to let you learn what you can do so you can use that knowledge when racing. When training, even with power, it is important to pay attention to your rate of perceived exertion so that when you are racing, when you need to pay attention to what is going on in the field and not staring at your power meter or HR monitor, you will still be able to keep track of the matches your are burning.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to burning matches is that sometimes an effort can burn more than one match and in the worst case scenario, you could burn through your whole book of matches with a single effort. If that effort comes at the end of the race it could mean you did it right and you win the race. But if you burn up your book of matches too early in the race, the day may be pretty short.