The 'easiest race' ever? Analysing the Giro d'Italia's sleepy day out on stage six

Not a lot happened on Thursday. Do not watch the highlights

Giro d'Italia stage six
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stop what you're doing right now reading this, and measure your heart rate. You're probably sitting at your desk, so your bpm shouldn't be wildly different from your resting rate. I bet it's higher than 39.

Tobias Bayer of Alpecin-Fenix managed this about 100km into stage six of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday, while going at 36.8km/h. The Austrian was clearly not trying particularly hard on a turgid day in the south of Italy, a day when the peloton averaged 38km/h on the kind of terrain most of us could cope with.

There might have been an exciting sprint, eventually, but this did little to make up for the previous sleep-inducing 200km. Fair play to the riders for deciding to take it easy, this Giro is incredibly hard, but perhaps the organisers will learn something from such a dull day.

Poor Diego Rosa was the sole member of a breakaway which took almost 30km into the day to form, as much as a solo escape can form. He spent 130km out in front on his own, probably wishing he had a podcast or an audiobook to listen to. Even then, he only averaged 207 watts through the day.

So little happened that the host broadcaster was reduced to putting up those comical information bars, which told us exciting things like Wilco Kelderman's favourite music is EDM, that Tom Dumoulin is a fan of 70s Dutch footballer Willy Brokamp, or that Biniam Girmay wants to visit Paris.

In this age of heart rate monitors and power meters, we can simply take a look at Strava to see how easy the day was for some of the best cyclists in the world.

We've already seen that Bayer had a heart rate lower than mine when I'm asleep while racing one of the biggest bike races in the world. 

Others had similar relaxing days. In a post titled "Hands down the easiest race I’ve ever done. When it goes easy here it goes really easy", Owain Doull revealed that he spent 82% of the day in the endurance heart rate zone, below 119 bpm. 

The Welshman did not manage quite as low a heart rate as Bayer, but he did manage 67 bpm while going at 69.5km/h, which is pretty impressive. His average power for the day was 159 watts.

Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel called it "maybe the easiest race I’ve ever done". Sadly he doesn't publish his heart rate data, but he averaged 159 watts too, which I'm pretty sure most of us could keep up with.

Richie Porte put a snail emoji next to his Strava post, on a day where the general classification contenders were tested so little they probably could have had a quick snooze on the bike.

The American rider Joe Dombrowski averaged just 92 bpm throughout the day, with a low of 49. To put that in context, my heart rate is currently 72 bpm just writing this thrilling article.

Thomas De Gendt, who was on the front of the peloton for much of the day, and had Caleb Ewan to look after, had an average wattage of 203, and averaged just 37.1km/h through the day.

Even teammates of the day's winner, Arnaud Démare, hardly had a testing day - Attila Valter averaged 143 watts, while Tobias Ludvigsson averaged 169. One imagines that their heart rates might have been higher after the finish line than they were rolling along the Tyrrhenian coast. Clément Davy, another of Démare's phalanx of helpers, might have peaked at 177 bpm towards the finish, but he also had spells under 70 on an incredibly chilled day.

Measure your heart rate again now, and then imagine barreling along a road with 150 other people at 40km/h. I bet it isn't below 70.

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