Get Fit Fast: 40 Minute Indoor Cycling Sweetspot Workout – Passo Falzarego

Get Fit Fast: 40 Minute Indoor Cycling Sweetspot Workout – Passo Falzarego

Welcome to this 40-minute sweet spot
session up the beautiful Passo Falzarego in the Dolomites in the Alta Badia region
of Italy. Now, it’s going to be a tough session. Running at sweet spot isn’t
very nice at all, but the benefits are manifold. And before we start, before we
kick things off on the climb, and at one point, we’ll be going through the snow
line, it’s important we get things warmed up nice and easy. So 90 RPM to
start with, for just under 3 minutes. Perceived effort level between two and
five, but gradually ramping things up so we’re ready to start the first sweet spot
session. Now, just to explain a little bit more about sweet spot. Sweet spot,
remarkably efficient sort of training, and it basically means riding at an
effort level of around 8 on a perceived effort level scale or around 90%
of your functional threshold power, give or take 1 or 2
percentage points. So, just build things up nice and
gradually at around about 90 RPM. And the thing I haven’t said just yet,
just to spice things up a little in this sweet spot session is within each
15-minute session, there’s going to be 3 10-second max effort sprints,
just to spice things up a little bit. And the one thing about riding at sweet
spot, although it’s remarkably effective, what you don’t want to do is neglect
those fast-twitch muscle fibers. So, just peppering this session with a few
nice, intense sprints should really give you a fully-fledged workout. One minute,
20 seconds, roughly, of the warm-up left. Start building things up, effort level of
around three. Make sure you’ve got plenty of liquids on board. I should’ve said
that earlier, I think. Keep yourself fully hydrated. A very good idea, as
well, to have a fan going if you can. Now, the trainer I’m using today is a
CycleOps Hammer Smart Trainer. Just under a minute to go now.
Just knocking things up a little bit, effort-wise, to four. Fifty seconds now,
so when we’re moving to the first 15 minutes riding at sweet spot, remember a
perceived effort level of around 8 is what you’re aiming for, so uncomfortable but
sustainable. And as it’s on a climb, we’re going to look at keeping the RPM
between 80 and 90, whatever’s comfortable, but certainly not much more above
90. Absolutely stunning scenery. Beautiful, inspiring countryside
to ride your bike indoors or out. Won’t be long now before
we’re into session one. Three, two, one, okay, here we
go. Just lift things up a little bit. Go through the gears if you need to, and
then settle at an RPM around 80 or 90. This isn’t overly prescriptive. It’s just
a guide, but as long as you can feel that this is uncomfortable, but you know you
can sustain this for a considerable period of time. And as you can see on the clock,
about 4 minutes, 20 until we get to the first of those sprints, and remember
ventilation, hydration, focus. I’m just going to stop speaking for a few seconds
now. Let’s get bedded into this climb. So, focus throughout riding at sweet
spot, concentrating on your effort. And these sort of efforts, as I said
earlier on, give you a real bang for your buck, value for money in terms of training
time. They can improve your functional threshold power, but the one wonderful
thing about sweet spot sessions, although they are quite exhausting,
probably ought to do three or two a week, is the fact they make it far easier when
you’re out riding with people at lower intensities. They just improve your
efficiency as a rider, but an important thing with any sort of training, including
sweet spot, is that you do mix it up. You don’t just get good at riding
at one pace. That’s why today, to add a bit of flavor, a bit of
spice, I’ve put these sprints in. And believe you me, they’re
going to be a bit naughty, so no holding back when we get
to the sprints. Again, if you can, just have a look at that scenery,
absolutely gorgeous. Think in about 15 minutes’ time, we’re heading
through the snow line. You’ll be glad to know there is a little three-minute
interval, when I say “interval,” a bit of downtime. Drop it back down to
level 5 to 2, spin the legs before we get to the final 15-minute sweet spot. So,
two minutes now to the first sprint. If I recollect right, it’s just by
low-wall on the right-hand side, just keep an eye on the clock, as well, so
you can steel yourself nice and ready. And also don’t be afraid, now and
again, to get out of the saddle, just to ease your backside, your glutes,
and your lower back. And to do that, to knock it up a couple of gears,
bit more torque through the cranks, maybe 15 or 20 revs
before settling back down. So, as long as you keep the same
perceived effort… On our home trainers, always a good idea to gear up when
you’re out the saddle, so keep that effort constant. A minute now until
the first of those nasty sprints. So, back in the saddle, knock it down a
couple of sprockets. And in this session, as much as we can, we’re trying to
replicate running at sweet spot on a long climb. That’s why the RPM are
slightly lower to replicate the realities and the harsh realities of riding on a
climb such as this on the Alto Badia region. If you haven’t been before, get
yourselves out there, absolutely gorgeous. Right, sprint coming up very soon.
Keep it in the sprocket that you’re in, that could be a good idea. This low-wall
is starting in a minute. Okay, here we go! God, okay. Normally after a sprint
interval, knock it right back down, but remember, keep the effort on. Keep
the pressure on, compose yourself. It’s not nice. It’s a wonderful form of
training, really builds up your resilience and tolerance to race efforts and, of
course, recruits another group of muscles as well, so it really is a superb
all-around session. Getting a bit warm now. Got me GCN towel on hand,
luckily. That’s a nice car going by. So, keeping it around 80. Get back into
that rhythm. You should still feel that burn, that residual effect of the first
sprint. Remember, still got five more to go, but only two more within this session.
Just going round a nice hairpin now. Again, stay focused. Think about the way
you’re pedaling. The wonderful thing about riding indoors, it’s a very controlled
environment. Don’t have to worry about traffic or other road hazards, just focus
on the job at hand so applying the effort, the power through the
pedals, your breathing, and also, your technique. I used to train on the
indoor trainer, about a third of my time was spent indoors, honing myself, and I
think I got a tremendous benefit from actually having limited time, and that’s
what’s great about sweet spot training. Of course, you can do it out on the road.
Try and find yourself a kind of pretty unbroken stretch of road, quiet, no road
junctions, so it can be as pure an effort as possible. I’m going to be quiet now.
Think I’m at nearly level nine just to be speaking, so keep it level eight,
just on the red marker there. Keep hydrated, as well,
because this next session is so high-intensity, very easy to
forget to drink, but don’t do that. And also make sure before your
session, you’re hydrated as well. I always get very nervous before turbo
sessions. I won’t go into any more detail. That’s because they are hard
work and not very nice, but boy, you’ll reap the benefits, mark my
words, but you have to apply yourself. So, 1 minute 45 untill the next sprint. Be
honest with yourself, stay at sweet spot. Got a fan on, got my bottle, all it now
requires is focus. If you haven’t got a fan, make sure you leave some
windows open, garage door, whatever. If you get too hot, it will play a
part in elevating your heart rate. You might not be able to work
quite as efficiently, so make sure, as much as possible, you can replicate
a relatively normal environment, although we do accept that,
generally speaking, riding indoors, you are going to get a bit hot. By that
side of the road, didn’t even wave. Lovely, quiet climb, this. Again,
another 10 minutes, I think, and we’re in the snow line. Air starts to get
thin, climbs of an altitude 2,105 meters, and the view over the region below is
almost as breathtaking as this session, actually. So, keep it smooth, not to move
around too much. Next sprint is coming up, and for these sprints, stay seated.
You don’t really even need to gear up, just need to up the RPM. Okay,
so here we go. This low wall coming up is the start
point. Three, two, one, go! Okay, don’t stop pedaling. Reaction is
after effort like that to stop and back off. Drive through, okay? Gear down if you
need a little bit, might be a good idea just to…there we go. Higher the cadence
slightly, and drop to the lower cadence just to give your legs a bit of a
break, but keep that pressure on. That effort would have pushed you way into
the red, but without giving yourself time to recover, this is where your body really
builds that tolerance and resistance to race efforts. It’s important to introduce
these into training when you can, not all the time, but definitely do
sprint drills and mix them up as well. Don’t always evenly space
them out. We’ve done it here for ease. We know when they’re coming up,
but when you’re out on the road, just slot one in. Go full gas for 10
seconds, up a drag. Try seated sprint out the saddle, and a good one is to
slow down, lose a lot of momentum, and then kick as if you’re on
the track, get that real torque. It’s a different sort of power at
low speed as well that you apply to the pedals. Very much like
track sprinting, and that really helps with the explosivity,
something I need to work on, especially at my age. But hey,
we can all improve, and that’s why you’re sat here, doing this
with me. My, I’ve sweat a lot already. Once you’ve cooled, you might actually
take a minute, minute and a half to recover to from that sprint but don’t
drop back too much, don’t go down to five or six or seven. Keep it as near as you
can to 8, and every now and again, it might be a good idea to get into the
routine of within every 5-minute section, giving yourself 30 seconds out
the saddle just to ease your back, ease your muscles, and just fill the
torque. So low revs, effort level the same, but different pedaling dynamics
eases your back and just breaks the monotony, as well. Any sort of training is
best mixed up. Whether it’s taking different routes, using your commute,
sticking in some different climbs, using high or low cadence, some
sprints, some one-minute efforts, always mix your training up. Makes the
time go a lot quicker, and ultimately, if you do it regularly, you’ll become far
more adaptable and versatile as a rider. Reason I’ve been doing quite a lot
out of the saddle torque sessions, but this is sweet spot, so here we go,
back down. Just under 1:40 now till the final
sprint of this first 15-minute session, and then once we’ve had the
break, well, you’ll still be riding, of course. We’re at the final leg,
and you can just see up ahead, the Passo Falzarego. It really does get
stunning in a minute. Tight hairpins, we go through a tunnel, snow line.
It really is something to behold, and hopefully, it will help inspire you
when you’re doing these pretty brutal sessions, but deep
down, I know you love it. So just under
a minute now. Just be aware of your breathing. It
should be relatively rapid at this sort of effort, but still controlled. This
should be eminently sustainable, but as I said before, it’s called sweet
spot for a reason. It’s the blend between intensity and the ability to sustain
an effort, therefore it’s quite hard. But I’ll say it again, it’s one of the
most time-effective, time-efficient forms of training there are. But just
make sure you rest in between, they will make your legs hurt. So, count
10 seconds until the final sprint of this sector, so sprint three. Keep
the gear dialed in, grip the bars. Three, two, one, just by
the rocky outcrop, let’s go! Okay, on this sprint, you do have the
luxury of knocking down a few pegs. Up the cadence, help get the toxins
out. So, a perceived effort of four. Just going to spin my legs a minute,
just above 90, actually. Ride easy, still ticking over nicely. Just
give yourself time to recover, and then we’re going to do that all over
again. And then, when we’re at the top of this climb, we’ll have just under
two-minute warm-down, and then you’re done. You’re doing superb. Two
minutes left of your recovery sector. Just take a look at the screen, have a
look at that view. Maybe get your phone, get on your app, book a trip out there.
Maybe not, might be just too difficult to multi-task like that. 1:40 now,
again, I’m riding at just over 90, spinning the legs, acutely aware that in a
minute and a half, I’ll have to pick it up again to level 8 or to a perceived effort
level, sorry, of 8. And just a reminder, perceived effort level, roughly, give
or take 1 or 2 percentage points, riding at sweet spot, it’s kind of
between 87% and 93% of your FTP, but aim for around 90%. Then
you’re in that real…that sweet zone, as it were. But this session’s just a
little bit different, not purely sweet spot, just punctuated a little bit by
those efforts just to break things up, help pass the time and work on those
fast-twitch fibers. The aim of training, depending on your ultimate ambition, is
to make you as versatile as possible. Especially if you’re running sportives in
the mountains, need to be able to do adapt, possibly to pace changes,
also the different sorts of terrain, and also recruiting all the
different muscle groups. So, half a minute, just
gear up now, slightly. So, just under 20 seconds, and
we’re in the next sweet spot phase. And that marker on the right will move
up to eight, so I’ll count down now. Count you in from five. Five, four, three,
two and one, couple of cogs up, and you should be there. You’re not riding at
sweet spot, no need to sprint to that effort. Gradually build it up, and
after 30 seconds to a minute, your heart rate will catch up, the
effort will begin to bite in your legs, and you’ll know that you’re there.
Actually see a lot of riders on climbs not panicking when there’s an attack, they
just build themselves up to a sustainable tempo, then they hold it. What you don’t
want to do, apart, of course…during these sprints is to put yourself into
the red getting to your effort level. So bulld it up and let
it come to you, almost. So, 4 minutes, roughly, until the full
sprint in total, and the first sprint in this second period of 15
minutes riding at sweet spot. When you find the gear that works for
you, between 80 and 90 is absolutely fine. It’s the sort of rhythm you get into on a
climb, again, depending on your style, your physiological attributes, just the
way you ride a bike. We’re all different. This is all guide, but if you stick
to the principles of what we’re telling you, you will
definitely get the benefits. Just going to sit and focus for a bit.
Focus on keeping my upper body still, try not to rock too much. One
thing that can help your rocking, get some core exercises done. Ten,
fifteen minutes a day, work on your core, and there are some GCN videos
just on that. Look at your core, that’ll help actually make you not only
stronger, but what it’ll do is provide a framework where power can be
transmitted far more efficiently, and you’ll just become more efficient.
Definitely something to look at, if you haven’t already. That will help
with your posture, your style, your ability to deliver power whilst
riding. So, really got into a rhythm now. It’s not overly pleasant, but I know I
can sustain it, so it’s not quite FTP. That is painful, but remember, your
FTP, if you can sustain it for an hour, this is just below that. In a
busy hairpin there and just see, just noticing now on the trees, little bit
of snow. I remember riding this climb, the air getting colder, thinner.
My breathing slowly but surely starting to increase as the air
became thinner, just breathing far more rapidly at the top.
Remember, just over 2,000 meters elevation at the top,
so definitely a little bit rarefied. Want to keep drinking, as well,
A little bit long in between there for me. Too much chatter, maybe,
so, under a minute until sprint four or sprint one of the second sweet
spot session, so get yourself ready. Get yourself mentally dialed.
It’s working for me, though. I just keep the same gear.
No need to gear up. Just sat down, seated max effort, focusing
on pumping those legs, basically. Straight down and around, max
effort, taking no prisoners at all. Don’t spare the horses,
another cliche, perhaps. Here we go. Four,
three, two one, go! Good job, keep it going. Don’t
ease up too much, keep it rolling, gear down if you need to. Your breathing
will be ragged, don’t worry about that. We’ll gradually drop down. That’s
what sweet spot’s all about. This minute after the sprint is pretty
brutal but deal with it by focusing. Happy to increase your cadence a little
bit, if you want, that’s what I’m doing, but my effort is still the same. Actually
might do another out the saddle bit now to keep the pressure on, but it does
ease the legs, weirdly. You’re putting a lot more pressure through,
a lot more weight, and, again, we call that torque. When the pros
do torque training, which is essentially almost like weights
on a bike so slow revolutions. Another 10 revs,
I think, for me. There we go.
That’s it. So get your breathing back. So, this
session is kind of two thirds in now. You’re riding very, very well. Just keep
up that effort. Stay focused at the job at hand. Don’t rock your shoulders, keep as
still as you can. Just think about the way you’re pedaling. And if you are using a
power meter, your power on there, again, between 87% and 93% of your
functional threshold power is what you’re aiming at, and for the rest of us, 8 is
the ballpark. Again, well into the snow line now. Look at that. Absolutely
stunning. Inspirational surroundings, So break up the monotony of
indoor training, eh? Unfortunately, although it’s beautiful, what it can’t do
is damp the pain, but we’re into single figures now. Just over nine minutes of
pain left, although it does include the two-minute warm-down. Seven minutes of
pain. That sounds better, doesn’t it? Focus on your breathing, be as
metronomic as you can. Just tap that rhythm, again, it will be
uncomfortable, but sustainable, and you will really reap the benefits of
sweet spot sessions. You can do different sorts of sweet spot. High-cadence sweet
spot, for example, to replicate riding on the flat. Different sort of pedaling style
entirely, but sweet spot really helps train you for, kind of, shorter time
travel distance, also improve your average speed, and it’s great for learning and
practicing climbing, because the best sort of climbing, as we always say, is ride at
your own pace, but at the most efficient pace. So, riding at sweet spot
is just about the sort of effort, the kind of mindset you need to get into
for riding one of these sorts of climbs. So, next sprint coming up, so the
penultimate sprint. Sprint 5 of the session, and sprint 2 of this second
15-minute sweet spot session. Okay, get it dialed in. No real
need to change gear, just kick through and rev it out 100,
110 RPM. Here we go! One more sprint to go, well done. That’s
fantastic riding. But keep on top of it, level eight all the time. It’s hard. I
know. Gear down if you need to, before getting back into that rhythm.
Just through the tunnel here, coming to the top now of the Passo
Falzarego. Inspirational, hopefully it’s helping you to focus. Real hotbed of
cycling in the area, beautiful terrain for riding. Seen some of the most epic battles
in the Giro d’Italia in years gone by, of course. Here we go, first of the series
of tunnels. Get a bit dark for a minute, luckily we’re not doing
a sprint through here. So at 80 RPM, roughly, effort level 8.
Here we go, got back into my rhythm now. Putting yourself into the red like that.
But then, not resting really replicates the sort of race effort where if
somebody attacks, you have to respond, and then you keep on going where
replicates a race-winning move when you’re trying to break away. And then you need
to sustain it, or you want to simply drop your clubmates out on a ride, or on a
sportive, trying to bridge a gap from one group to the next. This session is
tailored to help you improve those efforts whilst maximizing your valuable time on
the bike, as well. Do these sessions, believe in yourself, focus, you will get
fitter. Okay, coming up to another tunnel here, cut straight into the rock, this
one. Wish I had some lights on. Here we go, it’s only a short one, 50
meters or so. There we go, straight out. We’re quite near
the top now. Just under two and a half minutes
of the final sprint, just keep it going. Into the last two minutes now
before the final sprint, and then you can just roll to
the top of the climb. Remember to keep drinking. Keep that form
on the bike. Should be starting to bite now. This is a kind of optimal session,
really. Between 40 minutes and an hour on the Turbo Trainer, home trainer,
especially a smart trainer like this, is all you really need. Just need to have
a good variety of training sessions, but this one is particularly painful.
Coming into the last minute before the last sprint. Don’t ease up now, keep it
going. Final minute now. Stay focused. Really make this last one count, okay?
Get everything out that you can. I’m going to stay in the same gear. You
can gear up if you’re feeling particularly strong. Thirty seconds to that final
sprint, and look at the beautiful surroundings here. Get yourself a hot
chocolate at the top, although when I went, it was sadly closed. Okay,
here we go, just round this hairpin is where we’ll
do the final sprint. Okay, counting down now just as the
road opens up. Three, two, one, go! Well done. Okay, gear down,
effort level two. Spin those legs. Fantastic ride. Give yourself a few
moments to compose yourself. I’ll just do the same. Take a drink,
even knock it onto a small ring. Take away all the resistance, spin those
legs. One minute and 20 warm-down, you can continue to warm down a bit
further after the video if you see fit, but always make sure you warm up and warm
down. You can give yourselves a big pat on the back, great session. As I said,
sweet spot, real bang for your buck. Remarkably effective training tool for
people short on time and for professional riders alike. But also make sure
you mix it up, and that was a bit of a special session, if I’m
getting my words out. Spin those legs now. Bit of a stretch.
Put on the big rings, roll the legs around a little bit.
That’s it, ease down. You can reflect on some great work done
and a session that’ll stand you in good stead as long as you built it or as
long as you build it into your training. Just gear down a bit more, I think. Have
to really spin those legs. Effort level two is all you need,
almost just the weight of your legs turning things over, and
there we have it. Now, I hope you enjoyed that session, and
if you did, if you haven’t already, you want to subscribe to GCN, you can
do that by clicking here on the globe. It is absolutely free, and make
sure you tell your friends as well. Now, for another couple of sessions,
for our 30-minute fat-burning session, you can see that by clicking just up here,
and for our 60-minute power and endurance session, click just down here.
I’m going for a lie-down.

About the author


  1. Another great training video Matt – I was getting pins and needles in my hands during that last sprint as I was gripping the bars so tight!

  2. Great video, thanks for helping the winter miles spin by, what sort of distance are you covering whilst doing this workout, I did it for the first time last night, and managed 11 miles on the garmin,

  3. I love how they added the echo effect when he was in the tunnel. I missed that the first 8 times I did this ride. Nice attention to detail. Keep it up!

  4. I really appreciate these videos.  In this case I'd rather have a power meter reading so Matt could say not just an exertion level of 8 but also 90 percent of his ftp.  That would let us know what exactly he means by exertion level.  Regards – John Parsons

  5. Positive criticism: the sound balance is too biased toward the lovely music when we need more of the delectable Dan's voice. I have no trouble with the Sol Calobra video, but I don't know what's going on in this…

  6. hi. can I do this training session without a smart trainer? I have a magnetig one with 8 levels. wich levels (or watts) should I use to simulate this session?

  7. In order for us to be able to compare ourselves with your effort, I would like to see Power, Speed and cadence of the person climbing this hill. I would really appreciate the update to this video.

  8. "I hope you enjoyed that session". If you enjoyed that session you weren't trying hard enough. Call that the sweatspot!

  9. thanks for these indoor workouts guys! really enjoying them, but is there any way to stop the commercial adds coming on? especially halfway through the intervals ffs!!

  10. That noob cyclist moment where you shift back a cm in your saddle and the ride suddenly becomes 2 times easier. I've finally learned how to sit properly.

  11. mm i noticed there was no background music when i stopped spinning. i guess it was ok but hearing matt panting 😛

  12. Your channels trainer vids are on point!👌My YouTube favorite. I particularly like the interval training vids. Great stuff. Thanks.

  13. Enjoyed this ,liked the footage going up the climb , workout seem to pass quickly , felt it after !!!👍😜😳😜🚵🏻🚵🏻

  14. Enjoyed this ,liked the footage going up the climb , workout seem to pass quickly , felt it after !!!👍😜😳

  15. I hated you for roughly 40 minutes.

    But thanks for the video's, I'm sure I will appreciate them in the long term. 😛

  16. The session was good but I really benefit from the music! Loved the way Matt said he was going to stop speaking and then proceeded to chat for the next 5 minutes!

  17. Hey GCN, can you make an edit of the training vids without the music so I can play my own without missing the voice? Would be awesome and easy addition! Thanks.

  18. Is it me, or did you start Falzarego from the south side (at the start of Giau ) but finished it on the eastern approach from Cortina? (I must get out more!)

  19. "Get yourself a fan to help cool you down" well Matt it was-2°C in my shed tonight. If i used a fan i would have ended up with frostbite….

  20. Ouch. Great session GCN. I guessed at my 08 effort level. I reckoned about 162 bpm. Can anyone confirm this figure? I'm 52, a regular club cyclist (100 miles+ a week) and my max HR is about 184. Thanks in advance for your knowledge.

  21. Thank you Thank you for no annoying music, i rather listen to Matt and focus on his encouragement through vid, please more like these

  22. Another great session. Love this format. Please incorporate spin technique at stages of the clock. I find that is a common element of workouts that I have good memories of. Thanks.

  23. Another great workout with this video–thanks, Matt and @GlobalCyclingNetwork!

  24. My first turbo trainer & GCN workout. Throughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the support this 40 mins 👍🏼👍🏼

  25. I've only recently discovered your channel. I'm a fan! So far this is my favorite. Thank you. (Side note, so far I'm NOT a fan of the videos with the female coach- I find them vapid and almost condescending FWIW)

  26. Got of the turbo trainer after the session and walked into the front room and my other half thought I was having a heart attack I was soaked in sweat and breathing hard like a heavy smoker and she was going to call an ambulance until I told her its the 40 Minute Indoor Cycling Sweetspot Workout and its meant to waste you lol.

  27. Loving my bike>>> It was quite easy to assemble, no issues at all. I followed a YouTube video about assembling it and that helped a lot. Only small issue is that moving it around is a bit of a drag because you can only bend the bike to a certain angle to be able to move the bike around, which to me isn't the best angle since i have to be constantly

  28. I'm 63, and my sweet spot is a cadence of 72 in gear 4 of my tadpole recumbent. That keeps my heart rate around 150. When I do the sprints I peak at about 160. This was a nice change up ride for me. During the week I'm doing the 30min session with 8 sprints in higher gears. So, this ride while intense, is a bit of a longer endurance effort. Thanks for the workout! 🙂

  29. Excellent ride brothers… thanks for putting this together… now I can enjoy and keep pedaling in winter… of course on my trainer or stationary bike…

  30. Another great session. Somewhere on the back end of this workout my mind tune to you out and I didn't hear a word that you said. I guess I put myself in The Hurt Locker. Dripping with sweat. Good stuff. Great workout.👊🏾💥🚲

  31. My old Gios didn't know what hit it, I'll have a once over with the Allen key. Thank-you great descriptive narration for a rookie turbo guy like myself. Did you fall off with 22 seconds to go?

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