Watt/kg lacking during sprints and sharp climbs

Hi, I recently started a Fastcat training plan (aod racing intervals) with hopes of improving my power output in the 5 min and under time periods as I get dropped/gapped during sprints and sharp climbs. I am a 60+ male cyclist with many decades of riding and racing experience. I no longer race on the road but have jumped into some Zwift races. I also like to do outside group rides with the young 'uns and try for local KOMs. My current FTP is about 3.5 w/kg. I am racing with the Bs on Zwift as I consistently put out 3.2-3.6 w/kg (over 20 minutes) in their races and Zwift wanted me to upgrade from the C group. I notice in Zwift power that riders placing in the A, B and C races are putting out much higher power at the 5 min, 1 min, 30 sec and 15 sec time periods (such as sprints and sharp climbs). Whereas I may be able to easily sit in and surge up to 5 w/kg, I cannot reach these high amounts such as 5 w/kg for 5 minutes, 6-7 w/kg for a minute and into the double digits for w/kg for 30 sec and less. When I raced a lot back in the day, my achilles heel was always the sprints (I took up mountain biking nc of that). I am also on a structured weight training program. I appreciate training can help raise power to a certain degree. but it seems that my lack of type II (fast witch) fibers might be the limiting factor. Any thoughts appreciated!

Hi @davista00 - as you know we like to say, all you have to do to improve is follow the plan, aka FtFP.

We advise against doing any strength training simultaneously as your road intervals plan - the two combined will turn your legs to wood.

Save the heavy lifting for this winter!

A huge problem I see with self-coached athletes is misidentifying the problem based on preconceived biases or past experiences. I suspect you may be guilty of this.

I know people can win A races on Zwift in with a 30 second power of 9-10 w/kg, for example, my peak 30 second power ever (on Zwift) is only 9 w/kg.

I also do B races when I’m not in great shape and I don’t think I’ve ever had to do 5 w/kg for 5 minutes to make the front group.

However, the w/kg I put out to finish in the front of a B race is basically always over the 3.6 you mention, and typically 4 or a bit over 4 in terms of NP w/kg. And even if you did have to do 5 w/kg for 5 minutes, remember that a 5 minute effort is still predominately aerobic. You’re never going to manage 5 w/kg for 5 minutes with an FTP of 3.5 w/kg.

So, I suspect the problem in the B category is your FTP. You’re just in a tough situation where Zwift considers you a sandbagger if you race in Cs, but naturally all the successful B racers are on the edge of being A racers, meaning their FTPs are right around 4 w/kg.

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Thank you for your feedback! I do feel caught between the B and C racers. However, since I get blasted by the C racers in the sprint I figured I might as well ride with the Bs and get a better workout. A lot of the Zwift races do combine the A-Cs which means there is quite a surge as some of the As have a 5 w/kg FTP (I just hang on until I get dropped). For more information, my peak 30 sec power ever is 5.7 w/kg , 1 min is 5.2 w/kg, 5 min is 4.1 w/kg which is not going to win many races, even in Cs. So, I may have a preconceived bias but the top end (and FTP) power does seem lacking. I’m wondering if I should focus on trying to raise my FTP (though 4 w/kg seems like a stretch) or just sit in with the Cs and increase my top end power (which also seems like a stretch given my physiology). One of the issues with all training programs I’ve tried (e.g., training peaks in the past) is that they seem to gloss over or ignore biological limits - or at least I feel frustrated with what I perceive as my limits…

You fail to specify what rpm you typically ride at and what sort of rpm you are using in the power-climbs and sprints that challenge you. As I’m sure you know, power on the bike is force x angular velocity. I have found that riders short on force can compensate (to a degree) by improving their velocity (revs) and there are many ways of working on that.
Bill Black

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