Dutchman falls agonisingly short after 70km solo attack

While the cameras focussed on stage winner Geraint Thomas atop Alpe d’Huez on Thursday, there was heartbreak for Steven Kruijswijk who made it into the early break before going solo with 71.5km still to race, only to be caught just 3.5km to the line.

Despite his disappointment, the Dutchman still found time to upload his ride to Strava, which gives us a chance to give him some kudos on a great ride, and also see the sort of effort he put in.

Anyone watching the early stages of the race could tell that it was a fast start to the day, with Kruijswijk’s stats confirming this as he averaged 53kmh on the 28km approach to the first climb.

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Once the road started to ramp up, he was able to make it into the break alongside LottoNL-Jumbo team-mate Robert Gesink, who also uploaded his power data to Strava, data that should be pretty similar to Kruijswijk’s due to the two men’s similar physiques.

In order to make it into the break, Gesink had to average 446 watts for the first five minutes of the Col de la Madeleine, and also had to put in a number of surges of more than 800 watts in order to follow accelerations.

In total, the break climbed the 25km hors-categorie ascent in 1-07, giving an average speed of 22kmh, with Gesink averaging 367 watts and Kruijswijk setting the sixth fastest ascent on Strava. (The fastest time is still held by Levi Leipheimer from the 2012 Tour de France, while Pavel Sivakov – now at Team Sky – also rode more than a minute faster than Kruijswijk on a stage of the 2017 Tour de l’Avenir).


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However it was on the Col de la Croix de Fer that Kruijswijk made his move, not putting in a violent acceleration but still raising the pace to nearly 30kmh to ride away from the rest of the breakaway.

In total, Kruijswijk averaged 23kmh for the 28km climb with an impressive time of 1-12-19, although this again was not good enough for the KOM which is still held by Thibaut Pinot after the Frenchman went four minutes quicker during the 2015 Tour.

Despite the two uphill sections on the descent, Kruijswijk still averaged more than 50kmh as he descended towards the valley, at one point hitting 96.5kmh on a straight section of road.

Onto Alpe d’Huez and Kruijswijk’s speed data is actually rather impressive as he managed to hold a steady 16kmh throughout the climb, although his cadence data shows the fatigue starting to bite as he goes from averaging around 85rpm in the first couple of kilometres of the climb to just 65-70 rpm as he was caught later on.

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Of course a lot of credit has to go to the infernal pace set by Team Sky behind. Michal Kwiatkowski‘s Strava stats are particularly worth a look as he leads the GC group through the steep first kilometre at an average speed of 15kmh, before pulling off the front and crawling up the rest of the climb at just 10kmh, losing an impressive 29 minutes in the process.

Romain Bardet also uploaded his stats to Strava, showing that Egan Bernal was tapping along at an impressive 18-19kmh on the eight per cent climb, with Bardet himself accelerating up to 23kmh as he attacked behind, forcing Sky to raise the pace again and ultimately bring an end to Kruijswijk’s heroic day at the front of the race.

As the attacking started, the leaders upped the pace to cover the final few hairpins at 23kmh, before a downhill run through ski resort and a four per cent ramp to the line where Thomas accelerated away from the rest, comfortably moving clear of Bardet who was still sprinting at more than 40kmh despite the gradient.