Power analysis: Peter Sagan and Brandon McNulty on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia

Take a dive into the incredible power numbers from Peter Sagan and Brandon McNulty on Stage 10 of this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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Peter Sagan is back.

After dozens of second-places, and 15 months without a win, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) crossed the line first at the end of the tenth stage of the Giro d’Italia, not only taking the win, but doing so with a style and panache that could only come from the fan-favorite and charismatic three-time world champion. After nearly three hours in the breakaway during a soaking wet, Tirreno-esque stage, Sagan wiped off his glasses and mutedly pumped up the crowd as he celebrated an epic and memorable win in Tortoreto.

Not more than 200 meters behind, 22-year-old Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates) raced to the finish four seconds ahead of the GC group which contained the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), and the maglia rosa on the shoulders of João Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step). McNulty sealed second place on the stage – a fantastic result in and of itself – but also made a powerful statement to his GC rivals.


Attacks went flying in the opening hour of racing, with the first real move being established after about 25km. Mathias Brändle (Israel Start-Up Nation), Simone Ravanelli (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec) made repeat appearances up front following their camera time on stage 8, along with two of the favorites for later in the day: Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) and Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling). The indefatigable Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) made an appearance out front as the leaders hit the first climb of the day: a long and rolling uphill punctuated by a steep 1.4km ramp to Chieti.

Sagan makes his move on the lower slopes of the climb, attacking with Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) and pushing on all the way to Chieti.

Sagan – climb to Chieti:
Time: 21:30
Average Power: 440w (5.9w/kg)
Max Power: 1130w (15w/kg)

A large chase group linked up with Sagan and Ganna following the descent, and the breakaway flew along the coast before the stage had even reached its midpoint. Groupama-FDJ led the peloton for a number of kilometers, bringing the breakaway’s gap all the way down to 20 seconds – perhaps only Marc Madiot could tell you what happened, but eventually, Groupama-FDJ called off the chase, and the breakaway’s gap ballooned to five minutes.

Once the breakaway passed through Giulianova with 55km to go, the ‘easy’ part was over – no less than six climbs remained, with two category four ascents and one category three climb. As if that wasn’t enough, the rain was still pouring down, making every descent as slick as Sagan’s hair in his rendition of Grease.

On the fourth category Tortoreto climb with 55km to go, the peloton split due to the work being done by UAE-Team Emirates who were thinking about Diego Ulissi for the stage, with their GC rider, Brandon McNulty, waiting in the wings.

McNulty – first ascent of Tortoreto:
Time: 7:14
Average Power: 377w (5.5w/kg)

McNulty’s power profile on the first ascent of Tortoreto.

Next up was the longest climb of the day, the category three Colonella. At an average of 9.2 percent, the 3.1km climb shook things up in the breakaway and the chasing peloton. Up front, Sagan and Swift made the front group while Clarke and Ganna were dropped, and back in the peloton, it was NTT Pro Cycling on the front riding for Domenico Pozzovivo.

The pace in the peloton ratcheted up not one notch but three, and suddenly the gap to the breakaway had gone from four minutes to two.

McNulty – Colonella:
Time: 8:48
Average Power: 440w (6.5w/kg)

McNulty’s power profile on the category three Colonella climb.

Just a few kilometers later, riders came up to the second intermediate sprint point of the day – coming at the top of a 1km-long, 11 percent climb, I’d argue it was more of a climb than a sprint. Nevertheless, the peloton was chasing hard, and McNulty pushed over 500w on the steep sections to stay with the front group.

McNulty – second intermediate sprint:
Time: 3:08
Average Power: 445w (6.5w/kg)
Average Gradient: 11.7 percent

McNulty’s power profile on the second intermediate sprint of stage 10.

The GC action kicked off over the next two uncategorized climbs, first on the Vibrata when Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) attacked over the top and began chasing down the breakaway. On the top section of the climb where Bilbao attacked, McNulty was riding at 450w (6.6w/kg) in the group, but with two more climbs still to come, the peloton was still holding back.

On the next climb, the Tortoreto via Badette, the breakaway blew into bits with Sagan and Swift going up the road, eyeing each other side-by-side on the 20 percent gradients. McNulty held strong in the peloton, climbing at the same pace of nearly 6.5w/kg, saving his matches and waiting.

McNulty – Tortoreto via Badette:
Time: 7:00
Average Power: 430w (6.3w/kg)
Average Gradient: 6.9 percent

Brandon McNulty’s power profile on the Tortoreto via Badette climb.

After another soaking wet descent, the peloton was just 35 seconds behind Sagan, with Swift with Bilbao dangling in between. The stage was set for an epic finale, and it did not disappoint. The maglia rosa in Almeida was the first to attack, but was quickly countered by Pozzovivo and Kelderman. Up ahead, Sagan attacked Swift on the steepest pitches of the climb, even increasing his gap to Bilbao who was stuck in no-man’s land.

McNulty – steepest section of Tortoreto:
Time: 1:43
Average Power: 522w (7.7w/kg)
Average Gradient: 12.5 percent

Sagan – steepest section of Tortoreto:
Time: 1:44
Average Power: 580w (7.7w/kg)
Average Gradient: 12.5 percent

Sagan crested the climb with 13 seconds on Bilbao, and close to 30 seconds on what remained of the peloton which included the likes of Almeida, Kelderman, Pozzovivo, Nibali, and McNulty.

McNulty – final ascent of the Tortoreto:
Time: 5:11
Average Power: 465w (6.8w/kg)
Average Gradient: 6.9 percent

McNulty’s power profile on the final ascent of the Tortoreto.

The expert descender that he is, Sagan extended his gap over the chasers on the rain-slicked downhill run into Tortoreto, and with 2km to go, he had 30 seconds in hand and plenty of time to celebrate. Behind, McNulty showed that he is one of the strongest riders in this year’s Giro by attacking with 3.5km to go, and taking back a handful of seconds on his rivals by the finish.

Sagan is back, and McNulty is hungry for more.

Sagan – final 7.5km solo to victory:
Average Power: 430w (5.7w/kg)

McNulty – solo attack to take 2nd place:
Time: 5:05
Average Power: 481w (7.1w/kg)
Max Power: 1196w (17.7w/kg)
Average Speed: 51.7kph (32.1mph)

Brandon McNulty’s power during his attack to take 2nd place on the stage.


Peter Sagan – Giro d’Italia stage 10: 1st
Duration: 4:01:45
Average Power: 330w (4.4w/kg)
Weighted Average Power: 395w (5.3w/kg)
Max power: 1160w (15.5w/kg)

Brandon McNulty – Giro d’Italia stage 10: 2nd (+0:19)
Time: 4:02:04
Average Power: 277w (4.1w/kg)
Normalized Power: 340w (5w/kg)
Max Power: 1196w (17.7w/kg)

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/4189658417

Power Analysis data courtesy of Strava and VelonCC

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