With the first rest day of the Tour de France 2019 moved forward to a day later from its usual Monday slot, the peloton may have expected a slow day culminating in a bunch sprint after an eventful week of racing.
However, when the crosswinds hit the race was on, with EF Education First pushing the self-destruct button as Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Team Ineos took over and put the hammer down and created splits in the bunch, distancing a number of their rivals.
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was the biggest casualty of the day, sitting in third on GC and 19 seconds ahead of Geraint Thomas (Ineos) at the start of the day and eventually crossing the line to find himself in 11th place on GC and nearly over a minute behind the Welshman.
Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) finished in the Pinot group and saw their GC hopes severely dented, while Mikel Landa (Movistar) lost over two minutes following a collision with Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) that saw the Spaniard crash into spectators at the side of the road.
With Pinot’s group unable to get back on to the peloton in the run-in to the finish, just how infernal a pace was being set by the bunch?
Here are the Strava numbers from the pros that tell the story of what turned out to be an unexpectedly tough stage of the Tour de France 2019.
Michał Kwiatkowski was one of a number of Ineos lieutenants who forced the pace to distance the stragglers, giving his own description of how the day played out in the description of the ride: “Never losing focus, patiently waiting for the right moment and taking the chance. Moving up to the rest day in great spirits.”
It was a well-executed plan from the British team, with the Pole showing the peloton averaged a speed of 43.7km/h over the 217.5km course, reaching a crazy top speed 96.5km/h just 5km from the finish line.
On the last incline with 15km to go, Kwiatkowski’s heart rate reached a maximum of 168bpm, performing an average massive relative effort of 150 throughout the stage as the Pole helped shepherd Thomas and Egan Bernal safely through another day of the Tour.
Between 10 and six kilometres to go, the former world champion averaged a huge average power of 310w and also took a number of KoMs, the first with 25km to go, when the peloton swiftly caught the day’s breakaway, and another on a downhill section 7km from the finish line.
Simon Clarke (EF Education First) was one of the riders caught in the back group, alongside Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen and George Bennett, who finished nearly 10 minutes down on Wout van Aert as he took his first ever Tour stage win.
Clarke’s Strava data shows a high average speed of 42.9km/h, although nearly 1km/h slower than the peloton’s over the stage. He also hit a frightening top speed of 97.2km/h.
Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) made it in to the front group and was the French team’s best chance of a stage win in the final sprint, eventually finishing ninth. Averaging 56.1km/h in the final 40km, the Belgian was still able to pull out a sprint over 60km/h towards the line, producing almost 1200w max power.
Naesen’s actual peak power for the whole ride came with just under 10km to go when he hit 1,294w, showing just what it takes to try and close gaps when the speed is so high in the crosswinds.