Anatomy of a WinBy Sean Burke and Chris Daggs
Eric Marcotte from the San Diego based Pista Palace team picked up yet another win at the Blue Trolley Criterium this past Saturday. As a full time chiropractor in Tempe, Arizona and a “part time” Cat 1 racer, Eric has become a regular winner of races over the past 18 months in the Southwest and beyond. He has amassed dozens of wins, including stages of Valley of the Sun, the Melon City Criterium, and the San Pedro Grand Prix to name just a few. Recently, he just missed the win at Elite Criterium Nationals where he finished third. Marcotte is definitely a HUGE factor in any race he attends and frequently finishes ahead of most of the “full time” professionals; other riders comment it’s often a foregone conclusion that he will win the race! Eric shared his power data from Blue Trolley so that we could see what it takes( besides talent, dedication, and skill) to win a regional race. We know that many of our riders train and race with powermeters, so here is your chance to see how you measure up. We used Cycling Peaks WKO to analyze the power file and see what we could find. For starters, Eric averaged 299 watts for the entire 90 minutes. This doesn’t sound all that spectacular, but we can look at another calculation called “norm power.” Norm power (NP) is an algorithm that attempts to describe what the effort feels like, and the training stress it puts on the athlete. For an effort with frequent surges, NP will be much higher than average power. For a steady effort, such as a flat 20K TT, NP will be very close to average power. Eric’s NP for the entire race was 373 watts, and while we can’t say that this is exactly the same as holding 373 watts for 90 minutes, we can easily see that this effort was very hard! The Blue Trolley course has a small hill that the riders went over 50 times and Eric pushed between 450 -600 watts each time up and over the hill! Another way we can analyze the data is to look at the power for Eric at the beginning, middle, and end of the race. It is quite easy to see that Eric conserved energy in the beginning. His average power was 289 watts for the first third of the race. This is a sound energy conservation strategy as rarely does a winning move go during the first 30 minutes of a 90 minute crit. During the middle 30 minute section, he averaged 305 watts; Eric tested the waters including a five lap solo attack at 365 watts for almost 10 minutes. Finally, Marcotte averaged 319 watts for the last 30 minutes of the race where he was highly active at the front, ultimately bridging to the winning move, and then winning the race. Eric is known for his sprinting prowess, but didn’t have to fully open his sprint in this race. He motored up the final hill at 1200 watts and that was enough to finish off his two breakaway companions; SoCal legend Jamie Palonetti (Amgen-Giant Masters)and newly crowned SCNCA RR Champ, Lucas Binder (Swamis DET). Eric will be the first to say he rarely looks at his power numbers during a race; he relies on the killer instinct honed over many seasons to win races. But by looking at his numbers and dissecting his race we see the exact effort it takes to win a tough SoCal criterium. There’s no substitute for talent, dedication, and skill; but having some good data sure helps us all get a little closer to our goals.
The three yellow lines show Eric’s average power for the first, middle, ands last third of the race. You can clearly see his 5 lap attack around minute 50, as well as the big effort he put in around 1:24 to bridge to the winning break.