Archived: 2013 Tour de France Week 1 Power Analysis


Stage 1 – Porto-Vecchio to Bastia – 213 km

Today will go down in Tour history for the chaotic final kilometers when a team bus got stuck under the finish line barrier. With 10km to go, race officials changed the finish to the 3km to go line, then with 5 km to, moved the finish back to the original finish line. Racers were confused and a large crash took down many sprint and GC contenders. Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) was able to escape the carnage and took the sprint win.

Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Vacansoleil-DCM) – 122nd – 4:56:52 

View Juan Antonion Flecha’s PowerTap data in TrainingPeaks.

Flecha goes from the gun! He makes the first breakaway of the 100th Tour de France, and stays there from the first few kilometers until 37km to go, averaging 261 watts (3.3 w/kg) for 5 hours! What does it take to stay away for that long? An average speed of 42.6 kph.

With big sprint points on the line and a chance to wear the Sprinter’s Jersey (Green Jersey) for Stage 2, Flecha attacked with just under a kilometer to go for the intermediate sprint averaging an astonishing 832 watts (11.1 w/kg) for 36 seconds and hitting a maximum of 1193 watts. This is really impressive considering he was in the break for 150 km already! Lars Boom (Belkin) reeled him in and took the sprint.

During Stage 1, Flecha burned 4421 KJ – the equivalent of 30 butter croissants.

His 2-minute Peak Power was set on the only categorized climb of the day (Cote de Sotta). Flecha averaged 470 watts (6.3 w/kg) on the 5.7% grade, 1.1 km climb.

Jani Brajkovic (Astana) – 185th – 4:56:52

View Janez Brajkovic’s SRM data in TrainingPeaks.

Jani averaged 41.5 kph during the stage. Average times for the Tour have increased by nearly 60% in the history of the Tour! Last year, winner Bradley Wiggins averaged 39 kph, compared to the 1903 winner who averaged 26 kph.

In the final 10 minutes of the race when chaos ensued, the finish line was moved to the 3km line to go, then back again to the original finish all while racers were barreling full speed ahead. Brajkovic averaged 244 watts (4.2 w/kg) while traveling 51.5 km an hour in the final 10, confusing minutes.

Brajkovic set his 10 minute peak power for the day on a slight downhill section. It is usually very hard to hit peak power values on downhills, so this indicates a very difficult portion of the stage. He averaged 281 watts (4.8 w/kg) covering just over 9.5 km in 10 min. Not only was he putting out some big power, he was also traveling at a really fast pace, averaging 57.2 kph and topping out at 72.6 kph!

Conserving for the challenging 3 weeks ahead. Brajokovic stayed safely tucked in the main bunch, not losing any time but also trying to expend as little energy as possible. He completed the stage in about 5 hours, but his TSS was 184 which indicates he had a pretty easy day in the saddle. 100 TSS is equivalent to riding one hour at threshold or maximum effort. The physiological toll of Stage 1on Brajkovic was less than riding 2 hours at threshold power.

Normalized Power (NP) vs. Average Watts. (217 vs 161). This comparison shows just how variable the stage was.

Stage 2 – Bastia to Ajaccio – 156 km

Jani Brajkovic (Astana) – 47th – 3:43:12

View Janez Brajkovic’s SRM data in TrainingPeaks.

The final climb of the stage (Cote du Salario, 1 km averaging 9% grade) set the stage for Brajkovic’s 2 minute peak power. The short steep climb allowed for some explosive fireworks as riders attacked, trying to get away for the win. Brajkovic averaged 469 watts (8 w/kg!) with an average heart rate of 184 bpm.

The climbers start to flex their muscles. Stage 2 featured 4 categorized climbs and while not considered a true climbing stage, the sprinters were definitely put in difficulty. Brajkovic set his 20-minute peak power on the second categorized climb of the day, Col de la Serra averaging 338 watts (5.8 w/kg) and covering just over 10 kilometers.

Brajkovic burned 2977 KJs during the stage, more than 750 calories an hour!

Stage 3 – Ajaccio to Calvi – 145.5 km

Jani Brajkovic (Astana) – 38th – 3:41:24

View Janez Brajkovic’s SRM data in TrainingPeaks.

Brajkovic continues to conserve energy for the upcoming mountain stages. His 60-minute peak power for the day was 255 watts (4.3 w/kg), set in the middle of the stage. This is nowhere near his threshold power (the maximum wattage he can sustain for 60 minutes) which is 360 watts or 6.1 w/kg.

The descents were twisty and technical on very narrow roads but this didn’t slow down the peloton at all. Brajkovic’s 60 second peak speed was over 75 kph (47 mph).

After nearly 4 hours of racing, Brajkovic put out his 2-second peak power, 856 watts (14.6 w/kg)!

Stage 4 – Nice to Nice – Team Time Trial – 25 km

No Rider data was available from Stage 4.

Stage 5 – Cagnes-sur-Mer to Maraseille – 228.5 km

Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Vacansoleil-DCM) – 57th – 5:31:51 

View Juan Antonion Flecha’s PowerTap data in TrainingPeaks.

All else being equal, a lower heart rate for the same effort indicates better cardiovascular fitness. According to his TrainingPeaks data, Flecha’s resting HR is 32 bpm – well below the “average” range of 60-100. During the five and a half hour stage, Flecha only averaged a heart rate of 124 bpm!

124 bpm is 66% of his threshold HR. This means Stage 5 was an aerobic, pretty “easy” ride for him…

…but taking it easy doesn’t mean taking it slow. Despite his low heart rate, Flecha completed the stage with the lead group, averaging 37.8 kph (23.5 mph). He reached a peak speed of 84.6 kph (52.6 mph) on the final descent and final few kilometers of the stage racing towards the line. What would your heart rate be if you were going 23.5 mph on the bike on flat land?

Even the sprinters can climb at the Tour. Flecha’s file shows 2292 meters (7519 feet) of climbing for the day. Top sprinter Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took the win and in order to do so, had to get over the climbs to even contest the sprint.

An early breakaway in today’s stage built up a healthy lead on the peloton of up to 13 minutes at one point, but they were caught with about 54km to go in today’s rolling stage with 4 categorized climbs. The final 4km of the stage were straight and flat, allowing for a sprint finish that featured a showdown between some of the usual suspects: Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol). Cavendish took his 24th Tour de France win, with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) being well positioned and cracking out a strong sprint to come in 2nd.

David Lopez (Team Sky) – 93rd – 5:31:51

View David Lopez’s SRM data in TrainingPeaks.

Lopez burning more than 4500 calories during the stage means he is likely burning almost 8,000 calories a day – that’s the equivalent of 3 Thanksgiving dinners!

Lopez hit his 10-minute peak power on the last categorized climb of the day, the 5.7 km Cote des Bastides. He crested the summit averaging 379 watts (5.6 w/kg).

Lopez’ 60-minute peak power was set in last hour of the race as the sprinters’ teams gathered at the front. Working for the team, Lopez averaged 286 watts (4.2 w/kg) in the final hour covering 43 kilometers.

Stage 6 – Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier – 176.5 km

Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi) – 93rd – 5:59:07 

View Romain Sicard’s SRM data in TrainingPeaks.

Sicard set his 20 minute peak power in last 20 minutes of the stage as the sprinters’ and GC contenders’ teams drilled it on the front to keep their stars out of trouble. Sicard averaged 270 watts (4.4 w/kg) spinning at an average of 93 rpms per minute.

His 5-second peak power was set during the Intermediate Sprint. Sicard averaged 731 watts (12 w/kg) and he wasn’t even contesting it! It is amazing that these riders can still hit such high end power with so many consecutive days of racing in their legs.

Sicard’s 60-minute peak power for the stage was 241 watts (3.9 w/kg) and during this hour he had a TSS of 64. A TSS of 100 would indicate a maximum 1 hour effort at full gas. Sicard did not come close to his threshold power. We are still seeing many of the top climbers, including Sicard, holding back when they can to save their legs for the mountain stages to come.

Leg speed! Sicard averaged 109 rpms in the last minute of race, topping out at 119 rpms while putting out 318 watts (5.2 w/kg). Pretty impressive leg speed after 175 km in the saddle (and 5 previous stages)!

Stage 7 – Montpellier to Albi – 205.5 km

David Lopez (Team Sky) – 141st – 5:09:05

View David Lopez’s SRM data in TrainingPeaks.

Lopez set his 60-minute peak power for the Tour to date on the first two climbs of the day. He averaged 299 watts (4.4 w/kg) with a TSS of 69 during his hardest hour of the Tour yet. While the pace was high thanks to Cannondale drilling it on the front for Sagan, the climbers (including Lopez who will be riding in support of Froome) were still biding their time for for one more day and not exerting any more energy than necessary, knowing their race begins in earnest tomorrow when the Tour hits the mountains.

It was a fast stage: Lopez averaged 38.6 kph (24 mph) for the entire stage and set a 60-minute peak speed of 47.1 kph (29.2 mph), topping the speedometer with 80 kph (50 mph)!

Summary stats (including any warm-ups and cool downs) from the first week of the Tour for Lopez: 1384 Training Stress Score (TSS), 23579 calories, 1146 km (712 miles), 29 hours and 54 minutes of riding! To put that into context, a competitive amateur cyclist would consider a 600-700 TSS week to be a big week (the equivalent of riding 6-7 hours at 100% max effort). Lopez has done twice that in 7 days. He’s also ridden the distance from Chicago to Atlanta – a 10 hour, 50 minute drive by car!