TDF Power Analysis: Pogacar’s Peyresourde attacks and new climbing record

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“Tomorrow we fight again! Tour is not finished, vamos” – Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar was one of the several riders to lose to time on stage 7’s brutal crosswinds, which ripped the field apart. After losing 1’25” on the General Classification as well as the Young Rider’s jersey due to an untimely puncture on a crucial part of the stage, Pogacar was a man on a mission in stage 8. So for today’s power analysis, we take a look at what it takes to claw your way back into the top 10 in GC after such a disastrous day.

Tadej Pogacar’s stage 8 stats:

  • Height: 5 feet 9 inches (1.76 meters)
  • Weight: 145.5 lbs. (66 kg)
  • Total Time: 4 hours 9 minutes
  • Distance: 86.92 miles ( 140 kilometers)
  • Average Speed: 20.9 mph (33.6 kph)
  • Elevation Gain: 11,752 feet (3582 meters)
  • Work: 4075 kJs
  • Average Power: 273 W (4.13 W/kg)
  • Average Weighted Power: 329 W (4.98 W/kg)
  • Max Power: 1204 W
    *Note we don’t have any HR data because it was not posted on Strava

Power play-by-play

Every stage can be broken up into component parts, all of which give us insight into what the day was actually like for Pogacar.

The race up to the base of the Peyresourde

The ride to the base of the Peyresourde, which included the Port de Balès, took Pogacar and the rest of his GC rivals 3 hours 33 minutes, covering a distance of 74 miles (119 km) at an average speed of 20.8 mph (33.47 kph). In this time he averaged 253 watts (3.83 w/kg). Using Strava’s zone distribution graph would suggest his FTP (Functional Threshold Power) is approximately 403w (6.11 w/kg), so the ride to the base of the climb was ridden at an IF (Intensity Factor) of .62, or basically what one would do on an endurance ride. Not too difficult for the most part.

The Port de Balès was the most difficult section. Pogacar produced 381 watts for 47 minutes, much closer to his FTP, but still not at his limit.

That pace brought the group down to about 35 riders. Many would have been on and past their limit, but the top GC riders, like Pogacar, were all still relatively comfortable.

Up the Peyresourde before Pogacar attacked
The pace being set up the Peyresourde by Tom Dumoulin distanced several GC contenders, including the yellow jersey, but Pogacar was in control of his abilities here. He rode this portion of the climb at 424w (6.42 w/kg). Below are his stats before he launched his attacks.

  • Total Time: 10 minutes 1 second
  • Distance: 2.6 miles (4.18 kilometers)
  • Average Speed: 15.7 mph (25.26 kph)
  • Elevation Gain: 980 feet (299 meters)
  • VAM: 1790 m/h
  • Average Power: 424 W (6.42 W/kg)
  • Intensity Factor: 1.05
  • Max Power: 785 W

The attacks
Pogacar’s first attack was launched as soon as Dumoulin pulled off the front, having done his job for the day. The attack was 19 seconds long and he averaged 544w (8.24 w/kg). With 9.32 mi (15km) to go, he was able to distance all of his GC rivals save for Primoz Roglic and a surprising Nairo Quintana.

The trio worked well together before Quintana could be seen to take less than stellar pulls and Roglic seemed to follow suit. No one ever wants to be the one who truly “drives” a break, right? The power on this section is constantly up-and-down, the result of both rotating pulls and changes in pace as the three riders eyed each other a bit.

As their pace slackened, the riders behind were able to claw their way back up to the trio, with the likes of Rigoberto Uràn putting in that final dig to make the connection less than a kilometer later.

Here, Pogacar drifted to the rear of the group as the GC contenders re-grouped and all looked at each other. This was Pogacar’s lowest power of the whole climb, about two minutes at 322 watts. He recovered well.

With 2.6 mi (4.18 km) of the climb remaining, Pogacar launched his final attack; a searing 13 seconds at 687w (10.4 w/kg). This time, none of the riders in the yellow jersey group could follow him.

Remaining Peyresourde
Free to fly solo, Pogacar settled into a relentless pace which garnered him a minute gap by time he reached the top of the Peyresourde. His power is much more consistent on this section, as he’s doing his own pace and not responding to others. The red circle marks the attack.

Pogacar made it to the top in 24 minutes 35 seconds, faster than any previous attempt up the climb.

Below are this stats for the remainder of the climb following his second attack:

  • Total Time: 10 minutes 41 seconds
  • Distance: 2.5 miles (4.02 kilometers)
  • Average Speed: 14.2 mph (22.85 kph)
  • Elevation Gain: 1085 feet (331 meters)
  • VAM: 1859 m/h
  • Average Power: 446 W (6.75 W/kg)
  • Max Power: 617 W

Descending the Peyresourde
Using the “Peyresourde descent to D25” segment on Strava we can see how Pogacar gap began to diminish.

He descended off the Peyresourde in 5:46 at an average speed of 46.2 mph (74.35 kph), with a max speed of 66.6 mph (107.18 kph). Meanwhile, his rivals were able to cover the same distance 13 seconds faster at an average speed of 48 mph (77.24 kph). It would seem that having the benefit of a group rotating in the wind helped close the gap he created at the top of the Peyresourde.

Final drag to the line

Again it would seem that Pogacar would have benefitted from having a small group or another rider to rotate with. He covered the remaining 2.3 mi (3.7 km) in approximately 4:54, whereas his rivals covered it in 4:48, eating another 6 seconds off his gap. By the time he crossed the line, six minutes after Nans Peters, the stage 8 winner, his advantage was reduced to 38 seconds. He almost halved the gap he had at the beginning of the stage and moved up to 9th overall in GC. Below are this stats for the remaining 2.3 miles to the line:

  • Total Time: 4 minutes 54 seconds
  • Distance: 2.3 miles (3.7 kilometers)
  • Average Speed: 29.3 mph (47.15 kph)
  • Average Power: 426 W (6.45 W/kg)
  • Max Power: 1071 W

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