The first summit finish of this year’s Vuelta a Espana was always going to be a notable stage, and as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) stormed into the red jersey, that proved to be the case.
We marked the stage as one of the potentially key moments in this race and were certainly not disappointed as Valverde beat Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) to the stage win.
But just how big an impact did the Alto de Cumbres Verdes have?
One of our must-ride Strava segments on this year’s route, the pros’ numbers certainly make for very interesting reading – not least in the stark contrast between those who were able to keep up with Valverde’s pace-setting and those who were dropped.
Belkin’s Robert Gesink – who is a regular user of Strava like many of his team-mates – finished tenth on the stage, one of 18 riders to finish within a minute of Valverde.
His team-mates Laurens ten Dam and Wilco Kelderman were also in that select group, crossing some seven seconds after their co-team leader.
Gesink is the new Strava KOM title holder on the Cumbres Verdes Vuelta 2014 segment, taking the climb at an average speed of 16.6km/h, with his Strava giving his average cadence as 79rpm and his average power 430 watts.
Considering Gesink was tenth, it is frightening to think what sort of numbers Valverde was putting out, or for that matter Chris Froome, who did not once get out of the saddle on his way to second place.
And Strava’s effort comparison tool allows us to see exactly where Gesink excelled, and where his team-mates fell down too, with Ten Dam some six seconds slower in the end.
As with the entire front group, the hurt did not happen on the lower slopes of the category-one climb, where the bunch stayed largely together despite a fierce pace from Movistar on the front.
Instead, on the largely straight drag to the summit, Gesink – in the front group – just about out-did Ten Dam on the short, sharp, wall-like ramps up the climbs, with gradients well into double figures.
Much was made of the comeback from injury of Froome and Contador respectively, but little has been said of Robert Gesink, who missed a large chunk of the season due to requiring heart surgery.
Upon his return, the Dutchman looked happy at the Tour of Poland and rode himself into a strong position on stage six of the Vuelta.
His stats for the entire ride – his Pioneer registering an average cadence of 94rpm and an estimated average power output of 221 watts – may not be quite of the level of Messrs. Froome, Valverde and co.
But having covered the 165.7km ride, which packed in nearly 3,000 metres of climbing, largely in the company of the leading group it is little wonder he was left hugely satisfied with his ride.