Vuelta Ben King 2018 Win Blog 1200×675 3

File Analysis: Ben King Wins Stage 9 of the 2018 Vuelta a España

BY Dave Nichols

Ben King wins the first HC summit finish of the 2018 Vuelta.

Ben King took his second win of this year’s Vuelta on stage 9. After another long day riding in the breakaway, he went solo at La Covatilla to take the win on the first hors-categorie summit finish of the race.

See Ben’s full Garmin 820 Power file 
(p/b Rotor Power Meter)

Establishing the break

Similarly to stage 4, Ben made his way into the break within the first few kilometers of the stage, accelerating out of the peloton with a 1136W (16.4W/kg) surge. After 1:15 at 542W (7.8W/Kg), the break had a sizeable gap, which they maintained to the foot of the first climb of the day. You can get a sense of the effort from the speed; the group covered the first 37km at 44.4kph.

Early climbs

The following 60km of the race included 3 categorized climbs, with only short descents between each for recovery: Puerto del Pico (15.3km @ 5.5%) Cat 1; Alto de Grados (10.1km @ 3.3% %) Cat 3; and Puerto de Pena Negra (12.8km @ 4.3%) Cat 2.

Ben’s group rode a steady tempo up the first climb of the day, riding for 40 minutes and 4 seconds at 335W (4.8W/Kg). With the break’s lead steadily growing after the 5km downhill, Ben’s group began the category 3 Alto de Grados. Here he continued to ride at steady pace, averaging 303W (4.4W/kg) for 22 minutes and 9 seconds. Similarly after a short descent, Ben rode the Puerto de Pena Negra climb at 310W (4.5W/Kg) for 31 minutes and 4 seconds.

ClimbTime (mm:ss)Distance (Km)Average Power (W)Power:Weight (W/Kg)
Puerto del Pico40:0415.33354.8
Alto de Grados22:0910.13034.4
Puerto de Pena Negra31:0412.83104.5

Making the gap

Over the next undulating 70Km, the break’s lead steadily increased (to around the 10-minute mark), before starting to fall due to increased pressure from the peloton behind. At 30Km to go, Ben followed the attack of De Gendt, and in doing so set his many of his best power numbers of the day, including 30s (712W, 12.3W/Kg), 1 minute (574W, 8.3W/Kg), and 2 minute power (464W, 6.9W/Kg). This effort reduced the lead group to 7 riders.

At around 20km to go, Ben attacked from the group again with Mas, but soon dropped his companion by forcing the pace on a narrow cobbled climb. Here he produced his best 5min power of the race (396W, 5.7W/Kg). Now alone, Ben rode into final climb of the day, tucked into an aero position over the front of his bars whenever possible, and held a 1-minute 30-second gap going into the final climb.

Alto de la Covatilla (9.2Km @ 7.2%) HC

Riding alone, Ben put in a huge effort on the final climb of the day, averaging 363W (5.2W/Kg) for 28:46. After 5.5 hours of racing through another hot day in the Vuelta, he held onto a 48-second advantage at the line!

Time (mm:ss)Distance (Km)Average Power (W)Power:Weight (W/Kg)
Avatar1535495215 7
About Dave Nichols

Dave is a Coach & Sport Scientist at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
He is currently a PhD candidate at Aspetar Sports Medicine Hospital in Qatar, specializing in the physiology of heat acclimatization and repercussions on cycling performance.