See Tiffany Cromwell’s Paris-Roubaix Performance Files

See Tiffany Cromwell’s Paris-Roubaix Performance Files

With varying race dates and weather conditions, the first two editions of Paris-Roubaix Femmes proved an interesting case study in race preparedness. Here’s a peek into CANYON//SRAM rider Tiffany Cromwell’s first two attempts.

Photo by Thomas Maheux

Tiffany Cromwell is one of the most experienced and well-respected professionals in the women’s peloton. With a career lasting over 13 years, she has raced in all the major events and championships in which has performed at the highest level of the sport. 

In a new phase of her career as a road captain for Women’s WorldTeam, CANYON//SRAM Racing, Tiffany has taken on one of the most exciting new challenges of 21st-century women’s cycling — Paris-Roubaix. The first-ever women’s edition of this race was in the fall of 2021, with the second in April of 2022. In this article, we are going to take an inside look at the specific demands of this event and compare Tiffany’s preparations, performances, and analysis of both editions.

Tiffany Cromwell at Paris-Roubaix Femmes 2022. Photo by Thomas Maheux.

Key Factors That Impacted Tiffany’s Performances

Below is a comparison of Tiffany’s Paris-Roubaix stats year to year. While training protocols can account for some of these variations, there were also two key external factors that heavily impacted Tiffany’s performances: race date and weather conditions.

Tiffany Cromwell’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes Stats

20212022
Placement29th (+ 7:59 minutes)16th (+ 2:45 minutes)
Time3:04:163:14:44
Distance115 km124 km
TSS215229
KJ2045 kj2113 kj
Average Power168 w (3.59 w/kg)182 w (3.51 w/kg)
Normalized Power202 w (3.9 w/kg)202 w (3.89 w/kg)
Average Heart Rate158 bpm158 bpm
Max Heart Rate174 bpm178 bpm
Average Speed37.6 km/hr38.1 km/hr
Average Cadence84 rpm88 rpm

Race Date

A key area of consideration when comparing the performances and approach to each edition of Paris-Roubaix is the time of the year in which they were undertaken. 2021 was performed at the end of a long season on October 2, while 2022’s edition was in a more traditional classics time period on April 16. Tiffany acknowledges this as a key factor when comparing her performances. 

“P-R 2021 was the last race of my season last year. So, it was more just about trying to hang onto form after a big year of racing,” Tiffany says. “This time around it came at the end of the classics. So, I had been building form through each race and was probably a little bit fresher in the head and had been doing more racing on cobbles in the lead-up.”

Weather

Anyone who witnessed the last two editions of P-R will know the stark contrast in conditions in which each event was undertaken, with 2021 being in damp, cold weather and 2022 in bright, dry conditions. This marked difference led to vast deviation in racing technique and approach to bike handling on the day of each race. Tiffany defined the main changes for her between races. “Positioning is the biggest game for this race,” she says. “I used a lot more of the dirt paths this year to get through the cobbles whereas last year it was impossible with the rain.”

Data Analysis: A Look at Tiffany’s TrainingPeaks Paris-Roubaix File 

The course was the same in both editions, with the only difference being an extra starting lap in the 2022 race, which added 10 kilometers to the total distance. Both editions had 17 sectors of cobbles, accumulating to a total of 29.2 km. 

When looking at the overall stats of the race, we see very similar overall demands, with the average power and normalized power outputs being within four watts of each other (as shown in the chart above). Another key metric is the average heart rate, which was identical in both editions. So even with the changes in racing conditions and event date, the effort and strain which the riders underwent is almost identical. There’s no such thing as an ‘easy’ Roubaix!  

The Start

The opening section of Paris Roubaix (i.e., from the start line to the first sector of cobbles) is generally a nervous time in the peloton as riders fight for the break to gain good positioning prior to the cobbles. 

YearTime Average PowerPower:WeightNormalized PowerAverage Heart RateAverage Speed
2021 48 min (33.2 km)167 w3.24 w/kg195 w146 bpm41.1 kph
202262 min (41.9 km)157 w3.04 w/kg188 w142 bpm40.0 kph

Tiffany learned from her experiences in 2021 that positioning was key for the opening sector (i.e., starting the cobbles at the head of the peloton). This was seen in her data for 2022 as she had excellent positioning in the first sectors while simultaneously helping to position her teammates. The fight for the first sector in 2022 is seen from the 250 m lead-up with Tiffany hitting a peak of 653 w, 12.6 w/kg during this time and averaging 342 w, 6.63 w/kg. This is reflective of the tension within the peloton as the spike in effort leads the riders into the cobbles. 

The Critical Sectors

A key selection of Paris-Roubaix that illustrated the differences between Tiffany’s 2021 and 2022 performances consisted of three brutal cobbled sections within 20 km of the finish line, which was to inevitably decide the outcome in the 2022 race. It was at this point that Tiffany was in the leading selection of around 20 riders and was at the assistance of teammate Elise Chabbey, who was the key rider for the team at this point. Tiffany was visibly working hard by bringing back moves and closing gaps during this time, as you can see in her TrainingPeaks file below.

YearTime Average PowerPower:WeightNormalized PowerAverage Heart RateAverage Speed
2021 12:19 min (6km)190 w3.69 w/kg200 w164 bpm29.2 kph
202210:54 min (6km)198 w3.84 w/kg202 w168 bpm33 kph

This sector included the harsh cobbles of Carrefour de l’Arbre and two other pavé stretches and was a key point in the race. The dryer conditions this year led to a marked speed advantage on this difficult terrain, which we can see in Tiffany’s data above. 

Peak Powers

The on/off nature of this type of racing (which includes making gaps and following moves) prompts a lot of high surges over a rider’s FTP. This is generally then followed by a sustained effort at or just below FTP for several minutes while you keep position or hold the wheel. Typically, we don’t see many high sustained efforts for prolonged periods due to the nature of the race. 

A big difference between Tiffany’s performances in 2021 and 2022 is the timing of her peak one-minute power. In 2021, Tiffany peaked after only 8 km and 118 kj of work, maxing out at 614 w, 11.87 w/kg. In contrast, Tiffany put in a massive effort this year in the sprint for the finish line as she battled it out for a top-20 spot. After over three hours of racing and 2100 kj, Tiffany hit a max of 683 w, 13.18 w/kg, as shown in her TrainingPeaks file below. 

This is a real reflection of fatigue resistance and high-intensity repeatability — both of which are traits of high-performing athletes — and also signifies Tiffany’s higher level of fitness and preparation for the 2022 event.

Tiffany Cromwell at Paris-Roubaix Femmes with her CANYON//SRAM teammates. Photo by Thomas Maheux.

Tiffany’s performances in 2021 and 2022 can be distinguished by several factors, including the time of year, weather conditions, and her training approach. The physical attributes which helped her perform closer to her maximal capacity in 2022 despite increased fatigue had a big impact on her race. The motivational impact of having the race earlier in the season is also crucial when taking on an event such at Paris-Roubaix, which demands intense focus and mental fortitude. 

Thanks to Tiffany Cromwell with her assistance on this article, and for sharing her data and insights.

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