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In this column, we look at the power numbers of Jai Hindley, Juan Pedro López, Thymen Arensman, and more on Stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia.
When Jai Hindley crossed the finish line on Stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia, the maglia rosa wasn’t even in sight. The pink jersey was on the back of Richard Carapaz for the sixth day running, and the Ecuadorian had already won it once in his career. But on this day, Hindley was not only going to take the maglia rosa, but he was going to sew up the Giro d’Italia in one eye-watering, leg-shattering, and career-defining ascent.
After three weeks of a GC stalemate, Richard Carapaz led the Giro d’Italia by three seconds heading into the final mountain stage which finished atop the Passo Fedaia. The Italian climb had famously been conquered by Marco Pantani, and featured a brutal final 5km which averaged 11%. This was Hindley’s last chance to take major time before the final time trial, where he was not the outright favorite to beat Carapaz. What happened next went straight into the history books.
Stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia was designed to make your legs crumble. At 168km with 4,500m of climbing, the parcours featured three major climbs, including the Cima Coppi atop the Passo Pordoi which tops out at 2236m. This came with some 45km to go, and after a long valley, the peloton would tackle the Passo Fedaia, also known as the Marmolada.
One of the revelations of the Giro, Thymen Arensman, made it into the day’s breakaway, a large group which also contained Mathieu van der Poel, Giulio Ciccone, Davide Formolo, Lennard Kämna, Domen Novak, Alessandro Covi, and more. The 22-year-old has flown under the radar despite nearly grabbing multiple stage wins and also being in the GC fight for half of the Giro.
Arensman made a huge effort on an unclassified climb less than 25km into the stage, the kind of effort that would leave most amateur cyclists in the dust in about 30 seconds.
Arensman – Making it into the breakaway
Average Power: 469w (6.8w/kg)
Peak 6 min Power: 484w (7w/kg)
Next up was the Passo San Pellegrino, a 9.6km climb with an average of 8% and sections of over 11%. The crux of this stage – and of any Grand Tour – is the accumulated fatigue over minutes, hours, days, and weeks of racing. By Stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia, the peloton had been racing for nearly three weeks straight since the start in Budapest. Can you remember back that far, when Mathieu van der Poel won the stage ahead of Biniam Girmay?
Stage 20 added even more fatigue into the riders legs, and for one of the first times in this Giro, most of the climbing went up to high altitude. It is more difficult to recover from hard efforts at higher altitude, especially super high-intensity efforts such as those done at threshold or VO2 max. Though we can’t be sure, this could be one of the reasons that Carapaz blew sky high, losing over a minute and a half instead of just a handful of seconds.
In the GC group, we can measure the exact pace of the peloton using data from Juan Pedro Lopez, another breakout rider who wore the maglia rosa for many days. The Spaniard matched the GC group all the way to the final climb, staying tucked in the group on the first climb of the day up the Passo San Pellegrino.
This climb came in the first half of the stage, when most fans weren’t watching and there was still over 100km to go. This is often characterized as the “easy” part of the stage, but we can see that Pedro Lopez was still pushing over 5w/kg for nearly an hour, with sections of 5.5-6w/kg for five to ten minutes at a time. At this rate, he is burning over 1000 calories an hour, which is lower than most given his 55kg stature. A -70kg rider like Arensman is burning 1200-1300 calories per hour at the same exact pace.
Pedro López – Passo San Pellegrino
Average Power: 283w (5.1w/kg)
Peak 10 min Power: 309w (5.6w/kg)
Next up was the Cima Coppi, awarded to the highest climb in the Giro, in the Passo Pordoi. This climb has more switchbacks than Alpe d’Huez, and the pace was certainly higher as the GC group approached the final climb of the Giro. Pedro Lopez was pushing 5.5-5.8w/kg for the entire climb, even as the peloton ascended well above 2000m.
Pedro Lopez – Passo Pordoi
Average Power: 302w (5.5w/kg)
Peak 10 min Power: 309w (5.6w/kg)
The tension was building as the breakaway and then the peloton approached the Marmolada. Alessandro Covi had left the break behind on the Passo Pordoi, and he had a two-minute lead as the road tipped up with 16km to go. Arensman was still in with a shout at the stage win, but he would need to produce a special performance in order to catch Covi.
Behind, the peloton ripped the early slopes to shreds as Bahrain-Victorious and Ineos Grenadiers began setting up their GC leaders. Curiously, Bora-Hansgrohe was absent from the front; but they did have multiple riders in the group including Hindley glued to the wheel of Carapaz. The question was: Who would attack first?
Covi rode a brilliant climb to hold off the chase and earn his first-ever Grand Tour stage win atop the Marmolada. Behind, Arensman was pushing 400w (or more) on nearly every section of the climb, but he would only finish 5th on the day, nearly getting caught by – spoiler alert – Jai Hindley.
With just a few kilometers to go, Pavel Sivakov was making the hardest of pain faces pulling for Richard Carapaz who looked set to secure the pink jersey with just one more climb. However, when the Frenchman pulled off, Hindley attacked straight over the top. And then, just as the camera began to zoom out, we saw the green figure of Lennard Kämna come into frame.
It had all been planned out, a satellite rider in the breakaway. Another brilliant tactical display from Bora-Hansgrohe, and this time it would pay off even more than they could imagine. Carapaz clung to Hindley’s wheel, but you could see from the helicopter shot that the Ecuadorian was leaving just a one meter gap. And then one meter became two, two became three, and suddenly Carapaz was dropped.
Hindley continued pressing on and soon the gap was 30 seconds. He rode through walls of fans on his way to winning the Giro, tying the bow on an inspiring comeback story, and the unlikely confirmation of his breakout performance two years ago where he lost the Giro in the final time trial. Hindley’s effort up the Marmolada is one of the best climbing performances we’ve seen in cycling this year. In fact, it was one of the best climbs of his career, putting him on-par with the Slovenians in Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič.
Though we don’t have Hindely’s power data, we can estimate his power output based on his time up the climb. On such steep gradients – the final 5.5km averaging over 11% – the drafting effect is statistically insignificant, and having Kämna there for a few moments was more of a psychological blow than a physical tactic.
Pedro Lopez – Passo Fedaia
Average Power: 312w (5.7w/kg)
Final 5.5km Power: 326w (5.9w/kg) for 21:57
Hindley – Passo Fedaia
Estimated Weight: 60kg
Estimated Average Power: 360w (6w/kg)
Final 5.5km Power: 390w (6.5w/kg) for 19:54
Power Analysis data courtesy of Strava
Strava sauce extension
Riders: Juan Pedro Lopez
Riders: Thymen Arensman