Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge Power Analysis with 2nd Place Brett Grieve

Fresh off a second place at the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge, Brett Grieve shares his power file with me (and also you). Watch the interview with him after the race to find out how it all unfolded and how he found himself finishing in second place. Although not discussed in the interview he has just come off a solid block of training that he conducted in Australia whilst he was in Townsville for work.

For full disclosure, Brett is a friend of Qwik Kiwi Coaching and isn’t coached by me so I can’t take any claim or credit for his training that lead to this great result.

The first thing I note when reviewing his power file is that Brett didn’t set any records for highest power for any duration in time. In fact for 90 minutes he only held his third best power at 314 Watts.  This is below the 317 Watts he set at the Elite Cycling Series in Hokitika and the 318 Watts he set during a Sweet Spot session earlier in the year. Many people think that to win races you must put out as much power as humanly possible but the opposite is true.

To be successful you need to use your power wisely and minimise the amount of time you spend red lining it, saving that for key, decisive moments when you can best utilise your power. When you work hard, you work REALLY hard. When you don’t need to work hard you are smart and minimise your effort.

This is shown in his time in-zone.  For over 40% of the race Brett was riding at Level I or Level II. As he spent a fair amount of time riding in a breakaway type position he was riding Tempo for a large amount of the race, spending 28% of the race in that zone. With 15% of the race riding at his Threshold (Level IV), this adds up to 34 minutes and a hand full of seconds, with the remainder of the race above this intensity.

Contrast this to my race where I wasn’t riding to be competitive, but to complete the event. Interestingly I spent  34 minutes and a hand full of seconds at my Threshold Power as well. I also spent just over an hour riding Tempo. For me these efforts would have been pacing things up the climbs during the event of which there were a few of note. I spent a whole lot more time at the lower intensities because I was out on the course for nearly another two hours than Brett.

  • Brett’s Peak 90min Power was in the first 90min of the race, where he established himself at the front of the race and had to drive the pace hard to keep the break with Paul Odlin away from the rest of the chasing peloton. He averaged 314 Watts in this segment and maxed out at 935 Watts.
  • Brett’s Peak 5min Power was at the start of the race along Hill Street. In this section he averaged 421 Watts and maxed out at 909 Watts.
  • The highest power for 2min was as he rode up Neudorf Hill where he put out 472 Watts and maxed out at 561 Watts. Yes, Brett did get the Strava KOM on Neudorf Rd Climb.
  • As he rode up Marahau Hill he set his 10 and 12 min Peak Powers of 394 and 372 Watts respectively, with a maximum of 770 Watts. Of note is that as Brett rode up here he averaged a cadence of 97 RPM. Spinning up a hill like this is going to ensure he doesn’t drain his legs for later on. Contrast that to me as I was in my lowest gear struggling up at a cadence of 54 RPM but still putting out my threshold power.
  • Through the rollers from Mapua to Appleby (as well as the Ruby Bay descent), Brett rode conservatively and had times (probably whilst descending) that he put out zero Watts.
  • Over the final 5km Brett averaged 312 Watts and peaked at 914 Watts as he went down the finish straight with his flat tyre to claim 2nd place.

Here is a comparison between Brett’s data and mine from the same event:

Metric Brett Coach Ray
Goal Race Complete
Time on Garmin 3:54:17 5:44:05
Ave Speed (km/hr) 39.3 27.0
Calories 4073 3398
Training Stress Score (TSS) 312 303
Intensity Factor (IF) 0.89 0.73
Normalised Power (NP) 322 192
Watts per kg 3.93 2.04
Variability Index (VI) 1.08 1.16
Efficiency Factor (EF) 2.24 1.35
Velocity Ascended in Metres (VAM) 355 227

Check out Brett’s Strava file here:

Check out my Strava file here:



One Reply to “Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge Power Analysis with 2nd Place Brett Grieve”

  1. Good write up Ray, you bring it to life. For those who don’t watch the clip, the final 5km effort was what took me from 3rd to 2nd, and was 100% of what I could give at that point!!

    I’ve been coached by Wayne Girdlestone at VTC Online, but for the last 7 months I have been self coached. I also coach a few other friends and enjoy seeing them improve and reach their goals.

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