Stage 17 of the Tour de France always promised to be a brutal day, with three category one climbs before the summit finish on the hors categorie Pla d’Adet.
With the race splitting all over the road as the punishing gradients of the Pyrenees took their toll, several separate races began to form.
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) prevailed in the race for both the King of the Mountains points and, ultimately, the stage too.
Meanwhile, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) stretched his yellow jersey lead, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) losing contact from the maillot jaune group.
Further back, the race against the time cut was also unfolding as the grupetto came together in a bid to finish in the required time – which every rider managed.
But whether in the front group, or the back group, the efforts required are certainly still intense – as the numbers put out by Strava’s pro riders prove.
David Lopez (Team Sky) was among the riders to go clear in a large break on the Col de Peyresourdes.
Though Lopez’ individual output is not measured, the time difference between himself and Laurens ten Dam (Belkin), who was in the yellow jersey group, give an indication.
The break, in bursting clear, took nearly a full minute less time than the bunch to reach the summit – Lopez clocking 32:55, where ten Dam, whose average power output was recorded as 321 watts, clocked 33:54.
And the extra effort of being in the break certainly took its toll on Lopez, whose stats by the time he reached the Pla d’Adet show the effects of his time up the road.
Whereas Ten Dam, riding to stay in the top ten overall, took the climb in half an hour, Lopez’s time, with no GC ambitions to protect, was a full 12 minutes slower.
Ten Dam’s team-mate, Lars Boom, was in a group which formed on the penultimate climb, joining the likes of Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Bernie Eisel (Team Sky), and at times putting out a maximum effort of 600 watts (estimated).
An average speed of 13.8km/h was enough to reach the summit in 41:39, bringing the stage five winner in comfortably before the time limit.