2015 Tour de France - Stage 12

Today’s file is from Dani Navarro of the Cofidis team. Cofidis rides FSA K Force Light cranks equipped with SRM power meters. This power meter was developed as a special collaboration between the companies, to make use of the hollow carbon fiber crankarms.

 Stage twelve was 194 KM and included four categorized climbs, including the Hors Category Plateau de Beille, which tops out at 1785 meters above sea level. Many riders mentioned this climb in media interviews before the race, indicating the difficulty of the stage. 

Navarro made his way into the early breakaway, which achieved separation from the peloton around KM 25 in the stage. The 22 man group rode a steady fast pace to try and hold off the peloton. Once the gap crossed ten minutes advantage, the breakaway began to fragment.

Navarro averaged 247 watts for the entire stage today; at a weight of 60kg, this means he produced 4.1 watts per kilo for over 6 hours. Many amateur riders struggle to make this amount of power for 20 minutes. Thanks to the metric of power, cyclists have the ability to directly compare the output of riders at any level in the sport on an “apples to apples” basis. 

A sharp acceleration in the break at the base of the second climb, the Col de la Core, caused Navarro to produce 371w (or 6.18w/kg) for over four minutes. Its easy to see from this file segment, that the power produced was not very steady. Riding in a group over uneven terrain (with switchbacks, changes in grade, etc) makes extremely even power production uncommon in race conditions.

On the descent from the Port de Lers, Navarro hit a top speed of nearly 75km/hr with multiple surges of > 350w. Even though his average for this section of the race seems low (162w), its easy to see the stochastic nature of real world power production in the file. Racing in a group can require a very high number of these “micro surges” which is some of what makes training load very different from racing load. 

Stage 13 offers more vertical gain, but less in comparison to the last few difficult days of this Grand Tour. The breakaway specialists should sleep well tonight, knowing another opportunity awaits. 

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