I just did a race on the weekend that involved steep hills and treacherous winds. Unfortunately, I made one mistake early on that pretty much ruined my chance of placing well in the race. I kept it in big ring from the start, grunted away in those big gears, and then didn’t have what it took when things really mattered. I should have spun away comfortably in my 23 up those big hills instead of worrying about those futile attacks that went nowhere in the beginning.
Glycogen is stored in fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, with the vast majority in the slow twitch fibers. In other words, fast twitch power is extremely limited. It makes strategic sense to use the slow twitch fibers as much as possible by spinning quickly up those hills and save that fast twitch muscle glycogen for when it’s really needed (i.e. when the winning move goes up the road).
Greater torque and muscle tension may be useful in training to increase strength, but not for racing as the added stress to the muscles cause damage and fatigue. Hence the old saying, “save the legs, not your gears!”