There is a popular misconception, prevalent among casual observers of professional cycling, that the man who crosses the line last has made less effort than the winner.
Ride tracking app Strava gives the lie to this flawed analysis, and thanks to a growing number of professional riders who share their data with public profiles, we’re able to disprove it.
Take Team Sky’s David Lopez, who crossed the line alone, nearly six minutes after stage winner, Matteo Trentin. A glance at the Spaniard’s stats, however, reveal an average cadence of 96rpm over a ride of more than five hours: not to mention fairly astonishing stats for maximum cadence (183rpm) and top speed (91.4km/h).
Strava’s KOM classifications also prove the point – obvious to avid followers, less so to the newcomer – that the stage winner has not necessarily been the fastest man on the road at all points.
Lopez collected three KOMs during stage seven, recording the fastest times on three uphill segments. His VAM statistics are seriously impressive, peaking at 1736 vertical metres per hour.
Stage five winner, Lars Boom (Belkin), crossed the line some 2.42 after Trentin in a group containing veteran attacker, Jens Voigt (Trek) and neo pro, Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE). The Dutchman posted some truly impressive power statistics, including a maximium of 1,374 watts – a number that supports his reputation as a fast finishing all-rounder.
The comparative finishing times of the men of the Tour tell us only part of the story of the stage. Tactics, conditions, and team support will have as much to do with success or failure as sheer effort. The numbers don’t lie.