How Many Watts Does It Take to Go Fast in A Race?

How Many Watts Does It Take to Go Fast? Good question. Because going fast is a very relative concept and depends on many factors, as well as the goals you set for yourself.

The watt level does not really give an accurate indication of the level of performance, unless it is related to weight. It is one thing to have a threshold of 300 watts and a body weight of 60 kg, it is another thing to weigh 90 kg.

1. Watt/KG ratio

The watts/kg value is one of the most widely used indicators in the cycling world to evaluate performance. When using a meter, it is more correct to consider the FTP or UPF (Functional Power Threshold). FTP is not very different from the anaerobic threshold value, but it is not exactly the same. However, today we don’t want to talk about this: our goal is to understand how many watts we need to go hard and have fun in a race.

Do We Want to Make It Easy? The higher the watts/kg ratio, the stronger we will be, especially in Granfondo with a lot of climbing where you have to maintain a constant pace.

2. The Watts in A Cycling March

In this type of race there is little variation in pace, so the difference between average and normalised power should not be particularly large. However, as the activity becomes longer, the normalised power decreases and the value moves far away from the FTP.

In contrast, in a one-hour race, the two values might almost coincide.

In addition to watts, in a Gran Fondo that exceeds 3 hours, the subjective endurance of each athlete must be taken into account, in order to avoid a sharp drop in the last part of the competition.

3. Watts in short or medium distance races

The discourse changes completely when we talk about circuit or middle-distance races, where the climbs are short or sometimes there are no climbs at all.

The watts/kg ratio is always significant, but in these circumstances anaerobic capacity to remove lactic acid and neuromuscular power are more important. In short, it is more about being able to stay off the threshold than maintaining a steady pace for a long time.

Then comes the ability to ride on the wheel to save energy, race tactics, etc.

4. Conclusions

So How Many Watts Does It Take to Go Fast at Amateur Level?

Let’s take a step back and start with the pros: a good pro has a power-to-weight ratio of at least 6 watts/kg.

If we only look at the numbers, with 5 watts/kg you can fight for the victory in most of the middle-distance races or to reach the first positions in the Gran Fondo, except in the very famous races.

To get great satisfaction and achieve a good performance with a lot of dedication and training, you only need about 4.5 watts/kg.

If you want to stay in the top positions, just stay above 4 watts/kg.

These are indicative values, of course, and to understand this it is enough to think that, even among professionals with the same watts, a sprinter will never become a great rider in stage races, for example.

However, the watts you need to have fun are another matter: in this case, you may not even need a power meter.

For all cycling products there’s Deporvillage

Stefano Francescutti

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How Many Watts Does It Take to Go Fast in A Race?
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How Many Watts Does It Take to Go Fast in A Race? How Many Watts Does It Take to Go Fast? Good question. Because going fast is a very relative concept and depends on many factors, as well as the goals you set for yourself. The watt l …
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How Many Watts Does It Take to Go Fast in A Race?

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