Sunday’s stage 9 was exceptional in many ways — by now we know that. So it is understandable that an exceptional effort was required to win the day. TrainingPeaks published an in-depth look at Rigoberto Urán’s power data. The numbers alone are impressive. They also tell the story of a rider who carefully measured his effort throughout a brutal day of racing.
To begin with, let’s admire the aggregate numbers. The Cannondale-Drapac rider went 183km (113.7 miles), climbed 4,474 meters (14,678 feet), and averaged 238 watts in a shade over five hours (292 watts normalized). It’s pretty difficult to find a route with that amount of climbing, never mind the monumental task of doing the ride so fast.
On the stage’s three hors categorie climbs, Urán’s gradually ratcheted up his effort — negative splits, so to speak.
Riding Col de la Biche, Urán rode at an average of 4.68 watts/kilogram. That climb was 10.5 kilometers long at 8.7 percent.
Next up, the peloton reached the Grand Colombier, 8.15km at 10.1 percent. This one is a bit shorter, and the pace increased. Urán dialed up his effort to 5.19 w/kg.
Finally, they raced up Mont du Chat, which has a very similar profile to the Grand Colombier at 8.0km, averaging 10.1 percent. If you watched this stage, it should come as no surprise that the Colombian’s numbers ratcheted up even higher, to 5.44w/kg. His heart rate did too, averaging 173 beats per minute.
And then there’s the sprint. Amazingly, Urán was limited to his 53x11t gear combination due to a crash. He still managed to win and in doing so, he hit a peak wattage of 1,189.
Having the raw physical talent to win a Tour stage is one thing. Knowing how to carefully measure your effort through the course of an epic day of climbing is the next level. Urán’s racing experience — a professional since 2006, an Olympic medalist — surely helped him win when so many faltered in stage 9. The only surprise might be that it was his first career Tour stage win at 30 years of age.