07178 Tour De France Stage 9 Analysis 700x394

Stage 9 Power Analysis: What it Takes to Win a Mountain Tour Stage

BY Stephen Gallagher

A look at Cannondale-Drapac GC contender Rigoberto Uran’s winning ride into Chambéry.

Stage 9: Nantua – Chambéry, 181.5km

1Rigoberto UranCOLCannondale-Drapac5:07:22
2Warren BarguilFRATeam Sunweb
3Christopher FroomeGBRTeam Sky

With 4,000m or more of elevation and three HC climbs, Stage 9 was dubbed the “Queen Stage” of this year’s Tour de France. Rain only made things more difficult for the peloton from the start in Nantua. Several crashes influenced the outcome of the stage, as the wet conditions played havoc on the long, twisting descents during the stage.

An early move of 38 riders went clear after only 7 km of racing, when the road was already sloping uphill. This group was to gradually be narrowed down over the course of the stage until only a handful of riders remained.

One of those in the lead was French rider Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb), who came very close to a stage win. He was in the lead all day, only getting caught with 7km to go by a select group of GC favorites.

He still contested the sprint, but ultimately lost to Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) by just a matter of millimeters. The result was overshadowed by a crash of Richie Porte (BMC), who lost control on the dangerous descent of the Mont du Chat, ending his 2017 Tour.

We have the rare and fortunate position of having the stage winner’s file from a major mountain stage in the Tour de France. Thanks to Rigoberto Uran and Team Cannondale-Drapac for sharing this data.

Rider Analysis: Rigoberto Urán (COL)

Cannondale-Drapac, Stage Winner


Overall Stage Stats

  • Duration: 5:07:22
  • Speed: 35.4kph
  • Training Load: 319 TSS
  • Average Power: 219w, 3.78 w/kg
  • Normalized Power: 292w, 4.63 w/kg

To learn more about TrainingPeaks metrics, click here.

Click on the image below to see Uran’s SRM Power File:

Fast Start

With the start of the stage starting on a climb—combined with a very aggressive start—it was clear there was a big effort from the start gun for the entire peloton.

In the opening 11 kms there were two climbs, Côte des Neyrolles and Col de Bérentin, both taken at a hard pace. Uran rode the opening 10.4 km in 25:20 minutes at 307w, 4.87w/kg.

This was a hard start, and the riders still had a long way to go with five categorized climbs to come. At this point of the race, a large group of 30+ riders left the peloton and would go on to play a big part in the final of the race.

Click on the image below to enlarge.


The first big obstacle of the day was the Col de la Biche. The peloton trailed a large escape group, who had more than a three minute advantage to the GC group containing Uran. The pace was controlled by Team Sky, with Uran being well protected by his team.

Uran’s Stats on the Col de la Biche (HC)

Col de la Biche 10.5km at 8.7%

Time and speed: 39:33/15.9kph

Power: 295w

Power-to-Weight: 4.68 w/kg

Heart Rate: 156 bpm

  • Very steady effort with no significant surges in power
  • Uran can mostly keep his power under 5w/kga controlled tempo pace for the Colombian

Coming off the Col de la Biche, the speed was on, but Team AG2R tried to create a split in the peloton. They used a small ascent and the wet conditions in the subsequent descent. The short climb required 404w, 6.41w/kg from Uran. In the 9km descent, Uran averaged 59.6 kph, maxing out at 79.2 kph.

Selection on Grand Colombier

The Grand Colombier started very quickly after the descent off the Col de la Biche, so the riders had little chance to recuperate between the two massive HC climbs. Fatigue started to settle in, and many riders started to drop out of the leading break as well as the peloton. The Yellow Jersey group was whittled down to the GC contenders and their key domestiques.

Uran’s Stats on the Grand Colombier (HC)

Grand Colombier 8.15km at 10.1%

Time and speed: 31:46/15.6kph

Power: 327w

Power-to-Weight: 5.19 w/kg

Heart Rate: 167 bpm

  • An 0.5w/kg increase in effort compared to the Col de la Biche- it is easy to see why the peloton was starting to slim down
  • Mostly a consistent effort with two spikes in effort: Steepest sector with 355w, 5.63w/kg for 6:39 minutes and the last kilometer, where Uran rode for 3:29 minutes at 361w, 5.73w/kg and hit a max of 596 w, 9.46w/kg

The descent off the Grand Colombier was again quick and technical, Uran passed this without incident. He hit a max speed of 88.4 kph during the long downhill. Once in the valley, the Yellow Jersey group still had a three-minute deficit to the leading breakaway.

Uran could settle down into the “comfort” of what was left of the peloton and ride for 30 minutes at a moderate normalized power of 222w, 3.53w/kg. The pace was still high with an average speed of 47.5kph. For the favorites, this was the last opportunity to refuel as the riders approached the fearful Mont du Chat (8 km at 10.1 percent).

Showdown on Mont du Chat

The difficult climb was the first climb of the 2017 Tour de France and caused very critical time gaps, as well as the end to many GC contenders’ hopes. The likes of Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana fought hard to stay within reach of the Yellow jersey group but the high and consistent pace— interspersed with several attacks—proved too much for some.

Uran’s Stats on the Mont du Chat (HC)

Mont du Chat 8.0km at 10.1%

Time and speed: 29:28/16.3kph

Power: 343w

Power-to-weight: 5.44w/kg

Heart rate: 173 bpm

  • First 5.4km of the climb – steady high pace that thinned out the GC group: Uran rode at 332w, 5.27w/kg for 19:34min.
  • Fireworks started in the last 3 km, when Fabio Aru attacked: 378w, 6w/kg normalized power for 8:12 minutes were required of Uran to keep up. Only Froome, Porte, Martin, Bardet, Aru and Fuglsang were with him now.
  • To respond to Aru`s attack, Uran produced a 1:27min effort at 412w, 6.54w/kg, hitting a max of 666w, 10.57w/kg
    His average cadence of 81 rpm on the climb using a 30-tooth rear sprocket indicates just how steep this climb is

The descent off the Mont du Chat had been anticipated to be dangerous. Unfortunately, it proved too much for Richie Porte (BMC), as he crashed out of the TDF. The six-man strong GC group chased the leader on the road, Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb), and followed the attack of Romain Bardet (AG2R). Uran averaged 59.2kph for the 13.2km descent and hit a max speed of 84.3kph on the wet and slippery roads. Many risks had to be taken here to stay with the lead group.

The Final

The last 10 km of the stage saw more drama play out. Barguil was caught by Bardet and the Yellow Jersey group, including Uran. The Colombian had a mechanical issue at the worst moment on the last short climb, due to a bent derailleur hanger and broken shifting after avoiding the Martin/Porte crash.

Still, he was able to hang on, churning a huge gear at 339w, 5.38w/kg for 4:03 minutes. His cadence dropped to 70 rpm. Bardet was caught in the closing 5 km and it came down to a group sprint with everything to play for.

In the last 1 km, Uran was in second position, sitting on Chris Froome’s wheel, as they negotiated the final turns leading into the finish in Chambéry. In the section between 1 km to go and a right-hand bend with 550m to go, Uran averaged 463w, 521w normalized for 35 seconds as he rode behind Chris Froome.

The final push for the line was started when Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) made an attack with 440m to go: Uran was the first to respond to this move and it was at this point when he hit his peak power of 1189w, 18.73w/kg jumping on the Dane’s wheel.

On the following 210m, when he was making the bridge, Uran had to make an effort of 1025w at 83 rpm as he wrestled his big gear. He kept the effort going into the last 150m, averaging 816w and sprinting at nearly 56 kph.

Analysis of the final km

1000 – 550m to go46.3kph463w7.35w/kg
450 – 240m to go49.8kph1025w16.30w/kg
Last 150m55.9kph816w13.00w/kg

His effort was decreasing as the line approached, but it was enough for him to take a narrow victory from Frenchman Warren Barguil. An exciting finish to a dramatic day in the 2017 Tour de France.

Performance Conclusions

The mountain marathon through the Ain and Savoie regions was supposed to be the first big battle in the GC, causing big gaps—and it delivered. From a performance perspective, the power numbers on the climbs were lower than you would expect on a decisive mountain stage. Instead of values close to 6w/kg, the favorites stuck to  between 5 and 5.5w/kg on the Grand Colombier and the Mont du Chat, where the stage was decided.

This stage was a testament to the super-tough first week of this year’s race. Uran raced particularly smart, saving energy whenever possible and therefore being able to produce a fantastic sprint. Even a mechanical issue didn’t stop him. In this form, he will be a strong contender for the podium and should be able to cause trouble for this rivals in the mountain stages to come!

Get more Tour Stage analysis, course predictions and training takeaways from this year’s Tour de France here.

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