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Winners at WorldTour level are truly exceptional, but what makes them so? Chris Sidwells investigates what sets apart the best cyclists from the merely excellent ones

Three hundred and eighty-nine watts for four hours and 45 minutes, rising to an average 439 watts over the final 60km. And he had plenty left for the finish, smashing out 738 watts for a full 60 seconds, and even then enough pop in his long legs to blast out 1,004 watts for 20 seconds in his final uphill gallop into Sienna, winning Strade Bianche 2021. We’re talking about Mathieu van der Poel, but you knew that already – who else could produce those numbers? 

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