How the Race Was Lost: Leg Snappered in Innsbruck

How the Race Was Lost: Leg Snappered in Innsbruck

I decided to do both a group ride and race on each stage of Tour de Zwift, but thanks to my son’s crazy basketball tourny schedule I was running out of time to get the Innsbruck race done. It would have to be done on Sunday morning at 6am, and luckily the race was short since I needed to leave for church at 7:30.

Two laps of Innsbruckring. Let’s rock!

Warmup

I began with my typical pre-race ritual: a piece of caffeine gum and some PR lotion on the legs. Hopped on early and got a nice 30-minute, ~10-mile warmup in on Tempus Fugit.

For my pre-race warmups I do best with 20-30 minutes, since it gives me time to slow ramp up my efforts. Once I’ve got a bit of a sweat going, I’ll do some hard 30-60 second efforts to get my heart rate up to about 160bpm, where I feel like the ice has been broken.

If you’re looking for pre-race warmup ideas, check out “Pre-Race Warmups on Zwift“.

The Start

I could tell after the warmup that my legs weren’t feeling great–probably because I pushed it a bit harder than I should have the night before doing the group ride version of this race. (Actually, looking at that ride’s numbers now, I see my weighted average power was only 14 watts lower than it would be in this morning’s race. No wonder my legs didn’t feel fresh!)

Banter in the pens

But it doesn’t matter how you feel–harden up, buttercup. It’s time to race! We had 52 starters in the B cat, and when the clock hit 0 we were off and riding. We quickly settled into a nice group pace, and by the time we hit the 5-minute mark our group of 52 had been reduced to a front pack of 25.

But the Leg Snapper was looming. Would I be able to hold on up this punchy climb? I was about to find out.

The Middle

We hit the Leg Snapper at full tilt, with riders battling for position as many wanted to start the climb near the front of the pack. This is a common strategy for climbs (both indoors and out): start at the front, then you can slowly drift back through the pack as the climb progresses. As long as you can hold onto a wheel near the back of the pack over the top of the climb, you’ll still be in the pack, with less effort than it would take to hold a steady position at the front or at the back.

I wasn’t sure how hard riders would be pushing up the Leg Snapper, so I stood up and hammered hard all the way to the top. It took almost precisely 60 seconds to finish the climb, and I averaged 456 watts for that time.

My race effort–it’s easy to see where the key spot on the lap is

But as we crested the top, bad things started happening. I had finished the climb near the front of the group, but I was out of juice, and several riders continued to push it over the crest and down the descent. I found myself in 14th place at the bottom of the descent, with riders strung out up to 10 seconds ahead of me. And I didn’t have the legs to chase.

As I crossed under the sprint banner for the first time, I threw in the virtual towel. I wasn’t going to hold onto the front of this race. Not today. I would still finish, of course, but I knew I wasn’t contending for the podium.

Adios, podium. Perhaps we’ll meet again.

Knowing I wasn’t going to stay away from the group behind, I eased up. Time to join the gruppetto. Our pack of ~10 riders would work together for the remainder of the race, then battle it out in a final sprint whose winner would still be a loser. That’s bike racing!

The Finish

Here’s where I made my biggest mistake: I had a drafting boost (van) powerup going into the finish, and I used it as a recovery tool while the pack was approaching the finish line, instead of using it in the final sprint.

Hindsight is 20/20, but if I had waited for another rider to jump (instead of initiating the pack sprint myself, and doing that too early) I would have placed higher. As it was, I jumped, ran out of juice, and was passed by a few riders in the final meters. 20th place for me.

A ride on from the man himself!

Interestingly, this race had way less sandbagging and more legit, ZwiftPower-registered racers than my stage 1 race.

  • Stage 1: 82 finishers, 53 on ZwiftPower (35% unregistered)
  • Stage 2: 42 finishers, 31 on ZwiftPower (26% unregistered)

I’m not sure why this was–perhaps folks are actually getting hooked up on ZwiftPower and learning which category they should be in? One can hope.

(Also: first place in my race was Léon van Bon, Tour de France stage winner in 1998 and 2000. That’s pretty cool.)

See my race on Strava >
See results on ZwiftPower >

Takeaways

Two key learnings from this race:

  • Don’t do a hard group ride 12 hours before a race. My legs can’t perform well. Some people are able to perform well with repeated efforts and minimal recovery. I’m not one of those people.
  • If I’ve got a draft boost (van) for the final sprint, use it to easily follow the wheels of the first sprinters, then come around them once they’re tired. (I included this in yesterday’s “Advanced Usage Tips” powerups post.)

What About You?

Did you race stage 2’s Innsbrucking? What was your experience like? Share below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Richard Freeth
Active Member
Richard Freeth (@richardf)
10 months ago

So that’s what it’s like near the front, meanwhile back in group D I was able to finish in my usual place with only one other between me and that elusive last place. Still gives me plenty of scope to improve 😀 Thank you for sharing how to ride a good race even if it didn’t work out so well for you this time. I’ve learnt quite a lot.

Scott Fryer
Member
Scott Fryer (@fryup2000)
10 months ago

Nice write up, both your races have been similar to mine however I’ve been caught in the split both times! For stage 2 the race split on both laps at the summit and into the descent of the leg snapper. I was in the lead bunch on the first lap but the chasing group caught up, then I got caught in the split on the second lap 🙁 As with yours there was an increase of Zwiftpower riders… maybe by the end of the tour everyone will be on it! I raced stage 3 today, look forward to reading about… Read more »

Aoi Niigaki
Aoi Niigaki
10 months ago

That downhill is more dangerous than the climb. If you miss the wheel in front (or even worse, the guy in front of you drops the wheel) then you can easily lose the group. You do get one chance to save yourself as there is a small bump just before the sprint. If you hit that hard you might be able to get back on.

dan
dan
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

same with the top of the subways in London, you cant just stop at the top, you got to keep pushing hard past the top and over the other side until your speed goes back up ~ then settle.

Denis Markov
Denis Markov (@dvmarkov)
10 months ago

I ended up winning my category (C) on Zwiftpower – the starting sprint ended up being the biggest difference vs. stage 1. I decided to go all in this time and try to hang on for dear life afterwards – so, it turned out to be easier than expected. The sprint was brutal, but it was brutal for everyone, so a few minutes into it we settled down to a pretty reasonable pace and I was able to recover. I didn’t have many issues with the downhill portion as I am a heavier rider so I usually descend pretty fast.… Read more »

Mike
Mike (@michaeltrowe)
10 months ago

My race was ended for me with an unusual complete signal loss. All my devices went dead at exactly the 20 minute mark. I use ANT+ so this is usually not an issue and rarely happens. Of course it had to happen at the beginning of the leg snapper on the 2nd lap. I was fighting to finish in tenth place with a small group ahead of us still that dropped me at the top of the hill on the 1st lap. You can watch it happen here, warning, obscene language 😉
https://youtu.be/E1ivrQ3rokI?t=1274

Snappy Little
Snappy Little
10 months ago

I love this loop. As a C rider I can handle a one minute climb but not the long ones. As a big rider I could hang with the sand baggers on the flats. Unlike B class less than half are on Zwiftpower. Out of the top 10 only two of us were on ZP and I happily got 6th on road out of 115. I taunted and tormented the sand baggers the whole ride which made it so much fun!

Tehdas
Tehdas
10 months ago

First time I was in a race with you!
The start was furious, I hardly had warmed up, managed to barely get back to the pack, but also the first leg snapper already killed me.
Keep up the great work with the website!

Rembrandt Kruyt
Rembrandt Kruyt
10 months ago

You lost to Leon van Bon, a TdF stage-winner. No shame in that to not being able to stay in the front.
However, good advice for my next races.

Davep
Davep
10 months ago

I’ve been enjoying these write ups since you’ve started them. They finally encouraged me to jump into my first Crit city races in the last week. Using some tips you’ve given I was able to pull off a 5th place in my second C race. I’m not on the Zwift power yet since I wasn’t sure how I’d like the races but I may sign up for it. Thanks for All the indirect encouragement for Zwifters like me who have been Zwift if for a couple years but never got our feet wet in the races.

Will Horrocks
Will Horrocks
10 months ago

Great write up, Eric. I raced C cat and *just* held onto the main group over the leg snapper (not easy at 95kg!) but didn’t have it in the sprint. I’m new to racing on Zwift and was wondering how I know how many in my race are registered on Zwiftpower? I can see the difference between the results on the companion app and Zwiftpower, but is there a way of telling if that’s because they’re not registered or were DQed for exceeding the W/Kg limits?

Ned Bowen
Ned Bowen
10 months ago
Reply to  Will Horrocks

The result page for an event in zwiftpower has both an ‘Unfiltered’ tab and a button that shows the ‘Filtered’ racers with their filter code. Those show the zwiftpower users that were removed from the results.

Will Horrocks
Will Horrocks
10 months ago
Reply to  Ned Bowen

Thanks a lot, Ned

Kevin
Kevin
10 months ago

Hi Eric, Big fan of the website, and love these new race recaps. I’m just curious about the following. I’m weighing whether I should get into the PR Lotion that you keep plugging. I have no doubt you’re telling the truth about your experience with it, but I’m just curious whether you get compensated by them in some form. Often website will have disclaimers if that’s the case. But there’s no disclaimer here, so I’m guessing maybe you’re not. But I’d like to know just for my own decision purposes. Thanks.

Kevin
Kevin
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thanks very much for the reply. I appreciate it! Sorry I missed that disclaimer. I think I will give the PR lotion a try. You write a lot of convincing things about it.

Rick B
Rick B
4 months ago

One more interesting nugget you can add to these is your race setup. Doing 5 laps of this today. Trying to determine the best setup. Give up a few seconds on the decisive climb so I can sit in easier on the flats with the venge and disc or go with a lighter wheel set.

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