Tour of Southland

Life in The Peloton: Tour of Southland Stage One Interview with Brett Grieve

A friend of Qwik Kiwi, Brett Grieve is riding in the Tour of Southland for the second time. Brett is an officer in the NZ Army based in Burnham and normally rides for PKF Cycling in the Calder Stewart Elite Cycling Series. We will be publishing a daily interview with Brett after each stage to give you an insight into ‘Life in the Peloton‘.

QK: Well done on your ride today. Talk us through how the stage unfolded for both you and your team?

Tour of Southland

BG: Thanks Ray it was a tough day and while I am strong I got a bit unlucky. Early in the stage Frank Sutton and I were keen to get in a break and managed to get in a few moves but the peloton was too motivated at that stage so nothing stuck. Eventually after 45-60 min a six man group went clear but neither of us were in it. I also had two more goes at bridging with my brother Jacob Grieve from Willbike, but we were chased hard by guys that also were not prepared to lap so both were neutralised. A reasonable amount of energy was spent early, so I started riding conservatively in preparation for late attacks. The race really kicked off coming off the Ohai hill 90km in with a fast descent followed by 30km of cross winds. Frank was in the first group, I was in the second and the others in echelons further back. Several of our team had mechanical problems which relegated them to the grupetto unfortunately. Frank dropped off the first group and the peloton reformed to a certain extent. Frank was able to escape this group late and gain a minute by the finish and I finished with the peloton after covering quite a few late attacks by the Barry Stewart Builders team. It was a hard day and now our team is out of contention for U23 general classification. I am 38 sec down on the O35 classification so that is still a possibility. We rode a good position in the peloton and the lads all got through it in spite of adversity so it was a good day out.

QK: I imagine there were quite a few nerve and jitters in the peloton this morning. How did you find it?

BG: It wasn’t too bad actually. Quite different from last year, riders were pragmatic about sharing wheels and everyone rode safely. There was a crash at some point due to weaving in the wind, but apart from that it was a good safe race.

QK: Tomorrow is a 150km Stage from Riverton to Te Anau, what is the team plan? Any personal goals along with that?

BG: Yeah we want to keep out of trouble tomorrow. Blackmount Hill will be decisive so staying fresh for that is important. I need to ride smart with O35 GC in the back of my mind, so will hopefully go break or finish with the Yellow GC contenders. The team is pretty relaxed which is a good approach. It will be another hard race but it will be nice to visit Te Anau – such a scenic place.

QK: Southland is known for delivering some pretty brutal weather, particularly for the week of the Tour. The first couple of days have been pretty good thus far. Tomorrow’s forecast is for that to change. How much of a factor could the forecast westerly winds play?

BG: Weather is a bit of a mystery at the best of times.  My weather app indicates steady NE winds on the coast leading to lighter N winds once on the Lake edge. It is supposed to be wet at the finish also. If the winds are stronger then that will have its own impact, just like today.

QK: Good luck for the stage.

Brett has kindly given me access to his Training Peaks data for me to review and share my thoughts on as he progresses through the Tour. Today’s stage was 170km from Invercargill to Lumsden. Although basically flat the route did climb from basically sea level to over 260m about 90km into the ride then up to 230m again as it got close to the finish.

Tour of Southland


Let summarise the ride initially. You can see the altitude (grey shading) climbing from left to right with the 260m climb just to the right of the centre, then descending down before climbing up towards the finish in Lumsden. During this ride Brett expended nearly 4,000 kiloJoules (~960 kilocalories) and climbed 1140m metres of vertical height. He rode at an average speed of 39.4 km/hr (green line) and an average power of 257 Watts (pink line) (Normalised Power was 297 Watts), his average cadence was 95 Rpm (yellow line). His Variability Index (VI) was 1.16 which shows that his effort was reasonably variable. 

Subjectively I split this ride up into six distinct phases:

  1. The first 30km where Brett was trying to get in the moves,
  2. The next 45km where Brett conserved himself and rode cautiously,
  3. The 12km hill climb,
  4. The gentle descent over 30km where the pace was on in the bunch fighting the wind and for positioning on the road,
  5. The ascent over the next 33km, and
  6. The final 12km drag into the finish.

Over the first phase, Brett’s effort was quite high with an average of 300 Watts and he rode ~44km/hr at a high cadence of 99 Rpm.

During the second phase, he paced himself nicely minimising his work to 200 Watts over the 45km at 35km/hr and a cadence of 89 Rpm.

In the third phase his effort increased but not drastically and he averaged 238 Watts generating 36km/hr up the gentle slope, maintaining the cadence of 89 Rpm.

During the fourth phase his work increased to 304 Watts and ~52 km/hr over the 30km but spinning nicely at 98 Rpm.

During the fifth phase his effort was down to 227 Watts, for 36 km/hr and a cadence of 90 Rpm.

In the run to the finish line Brett averaged 300 Watts for 42 km/hr at a cadence of 100 Rpm.

Most impressively Brett spent 40% of the race in his recovery power zone, minimising his work, saving himself for when he needed to dig deep. In fact he spent 70% of the race below his Threshold range.

His biggest effort came when he was fighting the wind with a peak power for 30 minutes of 325 Watts, with a 5 minute period of that at 389 Watts. His top speed came in at 82.0 km/hr at the top of the main hill.

Brett’s Training Stress Score (TSS) was 293 which will accumulate on top of the work he did yesterday.

If Brett continues to ride like this he will save himself and find his form coming on relative to other riders later in the race. – Coach Ray.

A Strava link for Brett’s ride in this stage can be found here:

Previous episodes of Life in the Peloton can be found here:

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