By the numbers: How Orica-GreenEdge controlled the Tour Down Under

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It’s fair to say Orica-GreenEdge had a great Tour Down Under. With four stage wins out of a possible six, victory in the points classification and, of course, the race overall, the Australian squad stood head and shoulders above all others at the season’s first WorldTour race.

And while it was Simon Gerrans and Caleb Ewan that shared the victories between them, it was the hard work of their teammates that made those results possible.

In this post, Stephen Gallagher from Dig Deep Coaching takes a look at the power files of Orica-GreenEdge workhorses Luke Durbridge and Mat Hayman, to see what it takes to control a bike race as impressively as Orica-GreenEdge did.

Glossary of terms

In order to make sense of the information below, it helps to understand a couple of key concepts:

TSS: TSS (or Training Stress Score) is a measure of the intensity and duration of a ride. A rider can earn a TSS of 100 by putting in an all-out, 100%, hour-long effort. Given most rides aren’t completed at 100% intensity, most efforts will accumulate less than 100 TSS per hour. Click here to learn more about TSS.

Normalised power: A rider’s average power is simply that — the average amount of power (in Watts) they produced for a given effort. But this figure can be misleading as it doesn’t take into account how hard the hardest (and easiest) sections of the ride were.

A better measure of a ride’s intensity is normalised power. This is an estimate of the power the rider could have maintainted for the same physiological “cost”, had their power output been constant. Click here to learn more about normalised power.

Stage 1 – Luke Durbridge

Distance: 130km
Stage finish: 130th
Elapsed time: 3 hours 25 minutes

TSS score: 164
Average power: 236 Watts (3.03W/kg)
Normalised power: 306W
Average heartrate: 145bpm

Stage 1 of this year’s TDU was a day for the sprinters and with Orica-GreenEdge having the best sprinter in the race — Caleb Ewan — the expectation fell to Orica to control the race. And control it they did with final victory going to Ewan in Lyndoch thanks, in part, to the work done by his teammates.

Luke Durbridge was one of the main riders controlling the race for Orica, along with Michael Hepburn. In the initial part of the race this meant keeping the break within touching distance which saw Durbridge average 325W (4.17W/kg) for a 30-minute period, including the ascent of the day’s KOM climb.

After this the peloton settled into a constant rhythm which allowed Durbridge and his team to keep the break at close quarters. His peak power for one hour was during this middle section of the race where he averaged 264W (3.4W/kg).

Stage 1

From Durbridge’s file you can see that most of his power peaks were seen in the last 16km of the stage as they began to wind up for the sprint. Durbridge hit a peak five-minute power of 404W (5.18W/kg) as he helped position Ewan for the sprint. His last big pull came in the last few kilometres where he averaged 472W (6.05W/kg) for two minutes, averaging 51.5km/h and maxing at close to 60km/h.

Durbridge’s incredible strength and endurance is shown in his ability to assist in controlling the peloton and breakaway during the long hot stage and still being able to make big turns for his team leader in the final, crucial part of the stage.

See Luke Durbridge’s Training Peaks file from stage 1 here.

Stage 2 – Mathew Hayman

Distance: 132km
Stage finish: 92nd
Elapsed time: 3 hours 29 minutes

TSS score: 241
Average power: 275W (3.57W/kg)
Normalised power: 345W
Average heartrate: 147bpm

Aggressive riding from the gun made the initial 20km of stage 2 the hardest part of the day. Looking at Mathew Hayman’s power file we can see that almost all of his peak powers from two minutes to 30 minutes all came in the first 13km as the road headed upwards towards the Category 2 KOM of Range View Road in Carey Gully.

His peak 20-minute power was 394W (5.13W/kg), riding just below his threshold on this long climb where gradients ranged from 8-10%. His ability to spin a gear and maintain a solid wattage is something the pros make look easy and here Hayman was averaging 83rpm. This really was a hard start to the stage.

The 'full-gas' start to stage 2.
The ‘full-gas’ start to stage 2.

After a small respite before the final kick up to Carey Gully, Hayman put out 437W (5.75W/kg) for just over two minutes on the rise to the top of the climb. This was a solid start to what would be another day of the Orica team controlling the race for their stage and overall ambitions.

After the initial scurry of attacks and climbs in the first 13km the race then settled down and this meant keeping a constant pace to make sure the breakaway did not take too many minutes. During this phase Hayman averaged 320W (4.2W/kg) for two hours on the rolling Stirling circuit. For the majority of recreational cyclists who enjoy riding their bike regularly, riding at 320W (4.2W/kg) is manageable for a number of minutes and not for hours on end.

The last kick to the finish saw Hayman again hit out at 360W (4.73W/kg) for the last 5km as they approached the line.

See Mathew Hayman’s Training Peaks file from stage 2 here.

Stage 3 – Luke Durbridge

Distance: 139km
Stage finish: 100th
Elapsed time: 3 hours 45 minutes

TSS score: 155
Average power: 212W (2.72W/kg)
Normalised power: 280W
Average heartrate: 130bpm

With Jay McCarthy winning stage 2 and taking the overall lead, the pressure was off Orica-GreenEdge on stage 3 as Tinkoff controlled the peloton. This showed in Luke Durbridge’s power file as he was able to maintain a mostly aerobic ride during the majority of the stage, average 285W (normalised) for the first two hours of the race at an average of 35.5km/h.

The pressure to position GC riders at the front of the bunch prior to the Corkscrew Road climb create a crash which split the bunch and left Durbridge’s team leader, Simon Gerrans, behind the split. Durbridge spent a solid six minutes chasing to make sure Gerrans was back in front before the turn on to the climb.

Durbridge's six-minute effort to help Gerrans bridge across to the front of the race after being caught behind a crash.
Durbridge’s six-minute effort to help Gerrans bridge across to the front of the race after being caught behind a crash.

During this period Durbridge hit his peak one-minute and six-minute powers. The six-minute effort of 367W (4.7W/kg) enabled his leader to join the fight for the stage and GC. Once contact was made the work was done for Durbridge. He was able to ride an easy tempo up the Corkscrew Road climb at 290W (3.7W/kg) in the knowledge that his team leader was placed in a winning position. And win Gerrans did.

See Luke Durbridge’s Training Peaks file from stage 3 here.

Stage 4 – Mathew Hayman

Distance: 151km
Stage finish: 91st
Elapsed time: 3 hours 26 minutes

TSS score: 216
Average power: 248W (3.22W/kg)
Normalised power: 330W
Average heartrate: 137bpm

With Simon Gerrans in the overall lead, stage 4 saw Orica-GreenEdge heading the bunch en route to Victor Harbor. The main job for the likes of Mathew Hayman was to maintain Gerrans’ overall lead but there was also a plan to extend the lead by taking bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint after 27km.

In the first hour of the stage Hayman hit all of his peak power ranges from one minute to 90 minutes. The effort needed to keep the peloton together can be seen on the Norton Summit climb which started straight out of the neutral zone. Hayman rode for 20 minutes at 424W (5.59W/kg) including five minutes at just under 500W (6.6W/kg) at the very start of the hill.

Mat Hayman's 20-minute effort on Norton Summit to stop any breakaway riders from getting clear.
Mat Hayman’s 20-minute effort on Norton Summit to stop any breakaway riders from getting clear.

The pace was on until the first intermediate sprint, after which the bunch was able to settle down to a more controlled pace and a break was allowed to slip away.

The final part of Hayman’s work on stage 4 was to keep position and keep the pace on during the approach to the Crow’s Nest climb. In this section Hayman rode at 432W (5.7W/kg) for seven minutes. By the top of the climb his job was done for the day. Gerrans went on to win the stage and extend his overall lead.

View Mathew Hayman’s Training Peaks file from stage 4 here.

Stage 5 – Mathew Hayman

Distance: 151km
Stage finish: 95th
Elapsed time: 3 hours 42 minutes

TSS score: 233
Average power: 257W (3.34W/kg)
Normalised power: 330W
Average heartrate: 132bpm

With Orica-GreenEdge back in command and policing the peloton, stage 5 was another hard day for the workhorses of the team. The start was again fast and furious with Hayman averaging 420W (normalised) for the first 15 minutes with an average speed just below 50km/h. He also reached close to 1,100W (14.5W/kg) in this initial part of the stage.

As expected, the pace into the first ascent of Willunga Hill was extremely hard with the Orica-GreenEdge guys maintaining a fast pace so as to nullify any attacks. To do this, Hayman was riding above his threshold at 453W (5.88W/kg) for just under nine minutes. This effort was required to maintain a presence for his team and set up Gerrans for the last ascent to the finish.

Mat Hayman's nine-minute effort on the first ascent of Willunga Hill.
Mat Hayman’s nine-minute effort on the first ascent of Willunga Hill.

Hayman’s job was not yet finished after the first ascent as he maintained the high pace and helped position his team leader to the fore between the climbs. This saw Hayman hit his peak 30-second effort of 612W (8.1W/kg), just to maintain position.

Hayman’s work was done as he hit the climb for the last time and a successful stage was complete as his team leader Simon Gerrans was able to hold on to his leader’s jersey by nine seconds.

View Mathew Hayman’s Training Peaks file from stage 5 here.

Stage 6 – Mathew Hayman

Distance: 90km
Stage finish: 86th
Elapsed time: 1 hour 55 minutes

TSS score: 149
Average power: 294W (3.82W/kg)
Normalised power: 368W
Average heartrate: 140bpm

On the final day of the Tour Down Under, Mat Hayman and his teammates had two jobs: keep Simon Gerrans out of trouble, and get Caleb Ewan into position for the final sprint.

Hayman put out some high wattages in the first 20 minutes when a flurry of attacks took place. The first 20 minutes of the race saw him average 360W (normalised) maxing out at 1,213W (16W/kg) as he kept the race under control. The bunch was consistently riding at over 50km/h during the straights and parts of the circuit that allowed them to keep a constant pace. But the corners were a different story.

Stage 6

On each of the 20 laps, Hayman had to kick out of four corners at above 600W (7.9W/kg) for 10-20 seconds, in order to keep position at the front of the peloton. In fact, Hayman spent 20 minutes at over 500W (6.6W/kg) on stage 6, more than 15% of the race duration.

As expected, the pace ramped up towards the end of the race as the sprint approached. Hayman hit all of his peak powers in the last 16km of the race. The final lead-out for Ewan saw Hayman average 510W (6.7W/kg) for the final two minutes, maxing out at an impressive 66km/h.

View Mathew Hayman’s Training Peaks file from stage 6 here.

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