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Brandon McNulty pulls off 60km solo attack without power meter or heart rate data for Mallorca win

BRandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) makes a solo attack
McNulty on his way to victory (Image credit: Getty Images)

Brandon McNulty spent much of Wednesday afternoon in time trial mode, alone ahead of the field for the final 60km of the Trofeo Calvia before celebrating his first victory for UAE Team Emirates  with his arms in the air. 

However, his solo effort was not measured in watts or beats per minute, but instead calculated by good old fashioned feel. That wasn't the intention for the American but he revealed after his victory that he had forgotten to put on his heart rate monitor in the bus ahead of the race. What's more, his power meter failed and gave up the ghost with just 20km on the clock. 

The 23-year-old rider went on to survive the selections in the Mallorcan hills and then made his audacious bid for freedom with just over 60km still remaining. He carved out a minute's advantage and managed to hold it all the way to the line as the chase behind weakened, where he celebrated his first win as a WorldTour rider. 

After the race, which was the opener to the Challenge Mallorca series, McNulty uploaded his ride to Strava, and titled it: 'Great day to forget the heart rate strap and for the power meter not to work' with a laughing emoji. 

Analysis of the publicly-available file show that McNulty covered 156.7km at an average speed of 37.2km/h, skewed slightly by the opening few kilometres in the neutral zone. 

However, his average power output was a paltry 12 watts, and suggested he burned just 207 calories - fewer than he would have done by lying on the sofa. 

The data shows McNulty's power output fluctuating wildly in the opening portion of the race, before becoming non-existent at the 20km mark, where his power meter presumably stopped working. 

Despite the modern reliance on data to gage an effort, the loss of his analytics tools didn't seem to hold McNulty back. Perhaps it liberated him, enabling him to ride in a way he might not have done otherwise. Or perhaps he went the other way and played it a little safe, and didn't win by quite the margin he could have.

Either way he has started the year with a bang and looks set to take another step up in his development this season.

"I’m super happy: it’s a great way to start the year," he said. 

"It was a tough day out there but it was good for me and also for my teammate Joel [Suter] who came second which was perfect for us.

"It was up and down terrain all day with no real flat roads so as the group got smaller I was able to establish a gap. I knew if I could hold on it would be tough to chase me down with the twisty, undulating roads. I put the attack in and was able to hold on so I’m very pleased."

McNulty did not line up for the sprinter-friendly Trofeo Alcudia on Thursday, instead opting for a 50km recovery rider, where his power meter and heart rate monitor were back in action. 

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.