Mathieu van der Poel is not what you might call a Strava addict. In fact, before now the last ride he uploaded was his Dutch national championships win from June 2018.
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First off, over the 260km, 6-26-20 ride, Van der Poel averaged 337 watts weighted for the day. He spent most of the day in zone two and zone three heart rate, but did spend over 47 minutes at threshold, much of that probably coming in the last 10km when he was chasing down the breakaway riders. Van der Poel’s best 20-minute effort for the day was 378w (5.17w/kg) with a max power of 1,400w during his final sprint.
Before we get to that incredible finish though, Van der Poel’s first real action in the race came with 43km to go when he made a daring and powerful attack on the climb of the Gulperberg, a circa 500m climb that averages around five per cent gradient (according to Strava) but hits up to 18 per cent in places.
While that attack was short lived, the Dutchman got fourth place overall on the segment after averaging 761w for its duration, hitting over 1,200w at an average speed of 26.5kmh. He was clearly trying hard, hitting a maximum heart rate of 190bpm.
It’s the final 16km we’re really interested in though, around the distance of the final lap from the top of the final ascent of Cauberg to the finish.
By this time in the race, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) were a close to a minute up the road on Van der Poel’s group with Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) chasing behind at a yo-yoing gap that jumped between 10 to 30 seconds.
For the final 16km Van der Poel averaged 43.7kmh, at 353w average (4.8w/kg), with an average heart rate of 171bpm. After the downhill section from the finish and the Guelhemmerberg climb, the road began to rise up again with the final climb of the Bemelerberg and the uncategorised Steenberg, and this is where Van der Poel really seemed to hit the gas in the final 8km.
TV images showed him doing more or less all of the work as he dragged a group containing the likes of Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) back into contention.
The entire section from the Bemelerberg onwards saw him average 185bpm as he averaged 426w (5.8w/kg) at 42.9kmh to the finish.
Van der Poel rode the 680m drag of the Steenberg at 39.8kmh at 526w (7.2w/kg), and was still able to recover enough to pull out a power full sprint just over a kilometre later.
He rode at 57.4kmh average on the front of the chasing group coming into the final straight and bearing down on Alaphilippe, Fuglsang and Kwiatkowski, averaging 659w (9.02w/kg) at 190bpm. As he came close to making the catch he then launched his sprint, hitting a whopping 1,400w max power output, averaging 1,186w in the final 200m or so.
Van der Poel travelled at around 62kmh with a max speed of 65kmh, enough to seem him cross the line and take victory much to his own disbelief, in what was one of the most memorable race finished we’ve ever seen.