Tour de France power analysis: Wet time trials and 40mph leadouts

An in-depth look at the data from Mathieu van der Poel, Alexander Kristoff, and Quinn Simmons.

Photo: Getty Images

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In this column, we look at the power numbers of Mathieu van der Poel, Alexander Kristoff, and Quinn Simmons at the Tour de France.

The Danish grand depart was many years in the making, but the fans came out in force for the first three stages of this year’s race. Hundreds of thousands of fans lined the rain-soaked roads of Copenhagen during the stage 1 time trial and even more cheered the riders along from one day to the next.

There was a shock winner at the end of stage 1 with Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) taking the win in favorable weather conditions, whereas a host of favorites trusted the misleading weather forecast. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) was one of those favorites, and the Dutchman blasted down the start ramp faster than any rider I’ve ever seen.

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Most cyclists start their time trial with a measured effort – a hard sprint, but nothing close to their maximum. Van der Poel hit 1,200w with his first pedal stroke of the Tour de France and averaged over 1,000w for the first six seconds of his time trial.

Van der Poel – TT Start
Time: 1:49
Average Power: 504w (6.7w/kg)
Sprint down the starting ramp: 1043w (13.9w/kg) for six seconds
Max Power: 1236w (16.5w/kg)

Stage 1 of the Tour de France was unique for its technicality in an individual time trial. In 13.2km, you could count somewhere between 22 and 28 corners through the city streets of Copenhagen – streets that are often covered in traffic markings and painted crosswalks. Each and every corner was treacherous.

Van der Poel made it safely around the course and finished in a time of 15 minutes and 30 seconds, which put him in the provisional hot seat. The Dutchman’s power file shows us that this was no ordinary TT – he has to coast for nearly every corner, which meant that he had to sprint back up to speed and settle back into his aero bars.

With this amount of corners in just 13.2km, there was hardly any time to settle in, and Van der Poel’s longest steady effort was just one minute and seven seconds before he had to slow down for a corner. I can count 15 spikes above 600w throughout Van der Poel’s time trial, which is the punchiest TT effort I have ever seen. In between corners, Van der Poel rode a very steady pace of 500w in the aero bars. However, he did start to fade in the more technical second half of the TT which most likely cost him the win.

Van der Poel – Stage 1 TT
Time: 15:30
Average Power: 427w (5.7w/kg)
First half: 457w (6.1w/kg)
Second half: 416w (5.5w/kg)

Lampaert wore the yellow jersey for stage 2 which was billed as a crosswind spectacular on the 18km Great Belt bridge. Unfortunately, a stiff headwind stopped any attacks or splits, and instead, we saw one of the easiest sprint lead-ins in the Tour de France. That made for a messy leadout which Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) tried to take control of for Mads Pedersen.

Simmons brought the Trek-Segafredo team to the front and put his nose in the wind at nearly 600w. If you’ve ever wondered how hard these riders are going in the front of a leadout train, here is the context.

Simmons – stage 2 leadout
Time: 11:54
Average Power: 314w (4.4w/kg)
Normalized Power: 396w (5.5w/kg)
Final pull: 526w (7.3w/kg) for three minutes

Inside 3km to go, Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) was one of the sprinters fighting for the wheel of Wout van Aert, who would go on to finish second. The Norwegian hit 1,303w coming out of the final corner, but we can see from his power file how messy it is to sprint into a headwind. With the 25kph winds hitting the peloton smack in the face, every sprinter tries to leave it as late as possible. This means that riders were sitting up at 220m to go rather than sprinting, and we can see just how many times Kristoff has to check his sprint in the final few hundred meters.

Kristoff – stage 2 sprint
Time: 2:59
Average Power: 464w (5.7w/kg)
Final 500m: 749w (9.3w/kg)
Max Power: 1303w (16.1w/kg)

In truth, Kristoff never got to fully open up his sprint as he simply had nowhere to go. This pattern would repeat itself the following day when Caleb Ewan was nearly pushed into the barriers in the final sprint. After Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) won stage 2 with a brilliant final sprint, Ewan would be looking to make quick amends.

The Australian looked to have the speed to win stage 3 of the Tour de France, but a questionable deviation from Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) closed the door on Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) who thus closed the door on Ewan.

Stage 3 of the Tour de France was one of the easiest Tour stages we’ve seen in years. The peloton let the polka dot jersey, Magnus Cort (EF-Education EasyPost), go in a solo breakaway, and that was all that happened for 180km. In the final sprint, we saw more traditional leadout trains in Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, Jumbo-Visma, Lotto Soudal, and Alpecin-Deceuninck led by Mathieu van der Poel. The Dutchman’s final pull was 43 seconds at 590w (7.9w/kg) and an average speed of 60.8kph. After that, the real sprint began.

Stage 2 winner Jakobsen botched the final corner and slid out of contention with a few hundred meters to go. Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) awkwardly opened up his sprint alongside Van Aert who began drifting right in front of Sagan. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) came charging up the outside, but through the middle came Dylan Groenewegen (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) who beat Van Aert by a centimeter on the line.

Kristoff crossed the line in 11th, and though we don’t have the power numbers from the top-5 sprinters, we can confidently say that they’re doing upwards of 1,200-1,500w for 10-15 seconds and hitting speeds of over 70kph.

Kristoff – stage 3 sprint
Time: 40 seconds
Average Power: 805w (9.9w/kg)
Max Power: 1435w (17.7w/kg)


Power Analysis data courtesy of Strava

Strava sauce extension


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