How to win a race: Rui Costa at Abu Dhabi
3 September 2017 - Team
How to win a race: Rui Costa at Abu Dhabi

The third stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour was the queen stage, with the summit arrival on the top of the Jabel Hafeet climb. The final ascent’s distance was 10,8 km, with an average gradient of 6,6%. On the finish line, Rui Costa celebrated an impressive victory which was obtained thanks to an attack at 6,8 km to the arrival.


UAE Team Emirates’ training and performance staff (Corsetti, Marangoni, Notari and Marzano) analyzed with the usual care the data of the performances of the team’s athletes. Rui costa covered the 10,8 km of the final climb in 26’56” at an average speed of 24 km/h. Considering the average power of the Portuguese athlete on the climb, it reflected exactly his anaerobic threshold, confirming that the previous test performed by the cyclist were precise and plausible.


It is more interesting to divide the climb in various sectors, in order to understand better the parameters of the performance and the different percentage related to the value of the threshold power (Watt at anaerobic threshold).



Sector Timing Percentage of power in relation to the threshold
Climb’s begin 55” 128%
1’45” 112%
Attack 1’12” 120%
30” 75%
Central sector 9′ 100%
40” 120%
Zakarin acceleration 46” 122%


Sprint: 12” at 900 Watt and a maximum power output of 1.081 Watt


The riders approached the climb and covered the first sector at a high speed, forcing all the athletes to realize very high power level. Rui Costa, after a pretty relaxed first kilometer, had to pedal for 55” at 128% of his threshold and for 1,45” at 112%, then at a steady pace of 95%. This happened in the early 4 km.


Analyzing the data file of the stage, it’s easy to detect the key moment of the race, when the Portuguese cyclist attacked. At 6,8 km, trying to go clear from the top riders group, Rui Costa pushed on the pedals at 120% of his threshold for 1’12”, then he recovered 30” where the climb was less demanding, without exceeding the 75%, and at last he accelerated again for 40” at 120%.


After he had gone clear, UAE Team Emirates’ athlete’s pace was fast and regular for 3 km, keeping his power on the threshold; in this sector of the climb, Zakarin closed the gap from Rui Costa and the leading duo cooperate with the goal of reaching the arrival.

In the final 3 km, the power data varied a lot, because the climb was characterized by a series of gradient changes and by some short sectors in light descent.


Let’s linger on the analysis of the sector which -1100 mt to -800 mt. Zakarin noticed that Dumoulin still had some chances to close the gap from the front of the race and he decided to accelerate covering 300 mt, forcing Rui Costa to push hard for following the Russian rider. In this moment, Rui’s power was at 122% of his anaerobic threshold: this was the key moment, because it’s very difficult to score these values after having raced for 25’ at the levels we’re describing.

UAE Team Emirates’ captain had not spent the whole reserve of energies. Once he realized that Dumoulin could not close the gap, Rui performed an impressive sprint which was characterized by 12” at 900 Watt and a maximum power output of 1.081 Watt.

Zakarin could not do better and the Portuguese rider won the stage and became leader of the general classification.