Stage 18 covered 1865 KM and included seven categorized climbs, included the Hors Categorie Col du Glandon and the shoelace like Lacets de Montvernier. This is the highest number of climbs in any one stage of this year’s Tour.
Today we have the power file of Julien Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing). Arredondo is built for climbing, at 58kg and 164cm. A screenshot of the GPS path made by the route shows the northward progression of the race through the Alps.
The file was collected using the SRM PC8 and the data was recorded at one second intervals. This allows for a high level of precision in route tracking, which allows us to view the exact route by zooming in on the map file.
A hybrid map view can also be selected in order to get a better feel for the topography.
As we view Arredondos entire race file, what stands out is the very high heart rate and power output in the first climb of the day, the Col Bayard (Category 2, 6.3KM @7% avg) which was indicative of his effort to stay at the front of the race.
In fact, Arredondo was part of the very first attack of the stage, which happened right when the flag dropped. He followed the acceleration of Pierre Rolland to form a small breakaway, which quickly established a gap of 35 seconds over the peloton. They led over the first summit and were then joined by 16 additional riders on the descent. The group eventually swelled to 29 riders and eventually the gap grew to five minutes. We can see Arredondo’s effort on the first climb of the day in this segment:
The group fragmented and reformed repeatedly throughout the stage over the smaller climbs and at the intermediate sprint. Eventually Arredondo fell behind the leaders on the slopes of the monstrous Col du Glandon (27.1KM, 5%).
For over three hours in the breakaway, Arredondo averaged 231w (3.98w/kg). We can see, comparing this to previous file analyses that a power of nearly 4w/kg is required for long periods of time to be at the front of the race at the Tour.
However, in order to make the breakaway, a significant burst of power must be made to achieve separation from the peloton. This is the real art of training world level cyclists: conditioning the athlete to have the aerobic base to sustain a high average power output over many hours, while also having a large reserve of anaerobic power to negotiate the decisive accelerations of the race. We can see on the file segment of the Col Bayard that Arredondo made 328w for 18:40. This works out to 5.65w/kg, for nearly 20 minutes of racing.
Tomorrow is the queen stage of the Tour de France, and after today’s challenge the riders will certainly not awaken with fresh legs. Every day of the Tour brings drama and heroics, we can only look forward.