Cycling fans were treated to a welcome spectacle on stage one of the 2019 Tour de France, as the peloton tackled the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen.
The punchy Belgian cobbled climb is part of the mythology of the spring Classics, but this year general classification riders were forced to battle their way over the ascent.
Arriving just 44km into the stage, the Muur as not placed to be a defining moment in the stage, which ended in the expected bunch sprint with an unexpected winner – Jumbo-Visma’s Mike Teunnisen who beat Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the bike throw.
Stage one of the 2019 Tour took the race on a 194.5km loop starting and finishing in the Belgian capital Brussels, in honour of cycling great Eddy Merckx, with the Muur being the first categorised climb of the race, but who was fastest on the first climb of the race according to Strava?
The fastest rider to the summit of the 1.08km, eight per cent average climb may not be a surprise – Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) was the quickest on the day, setting a time of 2-48 during his stint in the breakaway, leading the race over the top and talking the first polka dot jersey of the race in the process.
Van Avermaet climbed at an average speed of 23.1km/h.
The Belgian one-day specialist was fast enough to match the Strava King of the Mountain time, set by Magnus Cort (Astana) at this year’s Tour of Flanders.
The second fastest time was set by Van Avermaet’s fellow Belgian and breakaway companion Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert), who was able to stick with Van Avermaet but climbed in 2-51.
Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) was the third fastest on the day in a time of three minutes, holding a monstrous 502 watts over the climb.
Other notable riders making putting in strong times over the Muur include Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert and Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Ineos) who both climbed in 3-18.
The fastest of the general classification contenders over the climb was American Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) in 3-20, with Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot just one second slower.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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