Annemiek van Vleuten has made a name for herself for her love of long training rides.

Pro cyclists ride a heck of a long way in a year

Strava data gives us a glimpse at just what it takes to ride at the highest level.

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Feeling a little down about how few kilometres you rode in 2021? Wishing you’d spent a little more time in the saddle? Well, you might want to look away now.

As 2021 became 2022, Twitter account @velofacts mined the Strava pages of hundreds of pro riders to find out how many kilometres those pros had covered in 2021. The numbers are quite something.

Topping the list of male pros was Australia’s Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) who, between racing and training, covered 37,643 km for the year over the course of 441 rides and 1,217 hours in the saddle.

That’s an average of 724 km and 23 hours of riding per week for the entire year. In reality those numbers would be higher when you factor in the time Porte spent off the bike during the off-season.

Next on the leaderboard was Porte’s teammate Michal Kwiatkowski with 35,085 km in 1,106 hours, followed by Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) with 33,888 km in 1,015 hours.

Given Porte topped the distance leaderboard in 2021, you might expect him to have done more race days than many others. Not quite. In 2021, Polish rider Cesare Benedetti led the way with 90 race days while Porte was way down the ProCyclingStats list with 57 – well outside the top 200. Porte clearly spends a lot of time on his training bike.

Porte didn’t just cover the most kilometres for the year – he also amassed the most climbing. In all, he climbed 662,167 metres (2,172,463 ft): 75 times the height of Mt. Everest and an average of 12,733 m (41,774 ft) per week.

While Porte rode the most kilometres and climbed the most among the 280+ male pros surveyed, he didn’t spend the most time on the bike. That honour went to another Australian: ultra-endurance racer Lachlan Morton (EF Education-Nippo) who spent 1,400 hours in the saddle for 2021 – over 180 hours more than Porte. It’s not surprising Morton topped this list: his Alt Tour in June and July alone saw him cover 5,510 km in the space of 18 days.

So looking at the data, how much riding would the average male pro cyclist do in a year? It’s hard to tell exactly from the Velofacts dataset as it includes riders who clearly don’t post all their rides to Strava. But taking the stats from the top 100 riders and averaging those out gives us some idea: roughly 30,275 km a year in 950 hours with just under 420,000 m (1,375,000 ft) climbed. That’s roughly 580 km and 18 hours a week.

Over on the women’s side of the sport, there was one clear winner. Of the 100+ pro women surveyed, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) was the only rider to cover more than 30,000 km for the year. Her totals of 30,352 km and 1,120 hours for the year (583 km and 21.5 hours per week on average) put her nearly 5,000 km and more than 200 hours ahead of her closest rival: Erica Magnaldi (UAE Team ADQ). Rounding out the podium was Magnaldi’s teammate Mavi García with 24,510 km in 851 hours on the bike.

Interestingly, Van Vleuten’s 1,120 hours on the bike would put her third overall if the men’s and women’s lists were combined, behind just Morton and Porte. And her total distance of 30,352 km for the year was just higher than the average pro male’s (as calculated above).

Van Vleuten’s love of long training kilometres is well known. While at Mitchelton-Scott (now BikeExchange-Jayco) she joined the team’s men’s outfit at training camps in order to get more kilometres under her belt.

It’s not particularly close when it comes to climbing volume either. Van Vleuten’s 479,198 metres (1,572,172 ft) – 54 times the height of Everest – is nearly 90,000 m (295,275 ft) more than Magnaldi managed.

So what about the averages on the women’s side? Taking the top 50 (there’s a smaller dataset here than for the men), we get yearly totals of 20,600 km in 730 hours with 220,000 m (721,785 ft) of climbing. That’s an average of just under 400 km and 14 hours a week. It will be interesting to see if those totals go up as women’s road cycling continues to become more professional.

It’s worth noting a few caveats with all this data. For starters, Velofacts’s information comes from each rider’s public-facing annual summary page, which might not factor in activities that a rider has made private.

And of course, there’s also the fact that this data only shows the riders that uploaded everything to Strava to begin with. It’s certainly possible that other riders covered more ground in 2021 than Porte but didn’t upload their rides to Strava. Case in point: Cesare Benedetti, who amassed 90 race days in 2021 but doesn’t upload all his rides to Strava. It’s not clear how far he rode for the year.

All that aside, there’s plenty to appreciate in the data pulled together by @velofacts. Follow the link to see the full Velofacts dataset.

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