Stage 15 of the 2015 Tour de France traveled 183KM from Mende to Valence. Today we can see the power data of none other than Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team), last years Tour de France champion and current Italian National Road Champion.
Nibali is using the new SRM PC8 head unit, which allows us to see his GPS data, tracking the path of the race with a map, satellite, or hybrid view.
With a total time of just under 4 hours racing and a net elevation loss during the stage (starting at around 694m and finishing at 150m above sea level) the average speed of the peloton was nearly 46km/hr. This is a very rapid pace and we can see from Nibali’s low average power of 218w that he was well protected in the peloton by his teammates. This is also an indicator that Nibali is an extremely economical racer; a Grand Tour rider cannot afford to waste any energy on a stage in which no gains can be made. Hiding in the peloton and conserving energy is a skill that is refined over many years of hard racing. Nibali is among the best in the world at this. With six stages remaining in the race, riders are always energy conscious.
The breakaway for the day was established very quickly, an indicator that the peloton anticipated that a chase late in the stage would be effective to bring back escapees. In the first 15 minutes of the stage, Nibali had a seven minute segment with an average of 384w (5.9w/kg based on a published weight of 65kg), on one of the first categorized climbs of the day, the Cote de Badaroux.
The low average power of the stage is not to say the day was a cake walk; there are hard moments in every day of the Tour de France. Over the stage’s most challenging ascent, the 13.4KM Col de l’Escrinet (category two) Nibali averaged 306w (4.7w/kg) for 28 minutes. This pace was set to keep the breakaway from getting too far ahead, with the simultaneous goal of eliminating some of the sprinters from the finishing group. Its likely that this pace is considered “hard tempo” for a rider of Nibali’s class, but for most of the peloton this is a challenging pace. Cavendish was dropped from the main peloton on this stage; the team directors will relay this information to their riders, in order to motivate them to keep the pace high to the line.
The final 44 minutes of racing were completed at a scorching 49.3km/hr and Vincenzo managed to produce only 194w average for this stretch of the race. At this point in the stage there were many teams who were highly motivated for a field sprint, which made any breakway attempts impossible. The inevitable field sprint resulted in the third stage victory for André Griepel (Lotto Soudal).