Analysis
PLATAFORMA DE GREDOS, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14:...

Power Analysis: How Tadej Pogačar won stage 20 of the Vuelta a España

The revelation of the 2019 Vuelta a España, Tadej Pogačar won three stages and attacked his way onto the final podium. Today, we examine his power data from the final two stages, including his victory on stage 20.

This month we have analyzed the power data from Tadej Pogačar’s stunning during the Vuelta a España, which saw him lose time in some of the early stages, only to vault back into contention for the final podium during the race’s second week.

Today, we analyze Pogačar’s most impressive performance from the race. During stage 20, Pogačar embarked on a 40-kilometer solo attack through the mountains to win his third stage and step onto third place for the final podium in Madrid. The stage win, and monster attack, asserted Pogačar as one of the most exciting young riders of his generation.

Before Pogačar’s attack, however, he had to endure a long and windy stage 19 into Toledo, which is where we pick up his power data.

Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Tadej Pogačar:
Height: 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight: 66 kg (145 lbs.) 

Stage 10 – Avila › Toledo (165.2 km)

Pogačar stayed in the group and out of the wind during the flat and fast stage. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Crosswinds again threatened to break up the race, and there was never any real commitment from the major teams. Nevertheless, splits formed with around 50 km to go, and Pogačar got antsy, jumping across solo to a dangerous group containing Alejandro Valverde. It was a huge effort, at 8+ W/kg, and the surge lasted for more than a minute, until Pogačar finally made the junction. A few minutes later the peloton calmed, but there was still a steep cobblestone climb up to the finish to deal with, and the pace heated up with 6 km remaining. As Rémi Cavagna attacked solo for the stage win, the rest of the field ripped up the climb, sprinters and climbers racing shoulder-to-shoulder. Pogačar’s 7.1 W/kg effort was the best of the GC men, netting him 8th place on the stage.

Bridge in crosswinds: 1:13
Avg Power: 549 W (8.3 W/kg)
Max Power: 940 W
Avg Speed: 57.6 kph (35.8 mph)
Avg Cadence: 102 rpm

Short Final Climb: 1:35
Avg Power: 471 W (7.1 W/kg)
Max Power: 854 W
Avg Cadence: 94 rpm

Full Stage: 3:43:59
Distance: 165.2 km (101.9 miles)
Elevation Gain: 1250 m (4101 ft)
Avg Speed: 43.9 kph (27.3 mph)
Total Work: 2829 kJ
Avg Weighted Power: 265 W

Stage 20 – Arenas de San Pedro › Plataforma de Gredos (190.4 km)

Pogačar attacked with 40km to go and got a gap on the GC chasers. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

It’s a stage that will forever be linked to Pogačar and the early phase of his career, due to his impressive solo move across central Spain’s mountains.

Stage 20 was one of the longest stages of this year’s Vuelta, yet the distance didn’t seem to phase Pogačar, who averaged over 300 W for five hours on this stage.

It was the final battle in the mountains, and the last chance for the GC riders to take, or lose, a spot the podium. After riding the first three climbs around 5 W/kg, Pogačar and the peloton hit the Cat 1 Puerto de Peña Negra. Pogačar surpassed 500 watts on 13 occasions during this climb alone, responding to the constant attacks from his rivals. Just under 5 km from the summit, Pogačar sensed a lull and then attacked himself, peaking at 738 W, before he held 5.7 W/kg for the last 11 minutes of the climb.

It was the attack that sent Pogačar into the history books. After 10km of solo racing, with nearly 30 km to go, Pogačar had built over a minute gap on the peloton. The road to the finish was long and lumpy, yet Pogačar continued to extend his lead. He flew up the climbs, averaging 365 W (5.5 W/kg) for between 10 to 15 minutes at a time. On the descents he sprinted out of corners at 600+ W, and with every meter of road he slowly extended his advantage. Pogačar finished over a minute and half ahead of his GC rivals, his 3rd stage win of the race. He nearly toppled Alejandro Valverde from second place overall.

The finish launched him into third place overall in just his first grand tour. It was the ride of a lifetime.

Pogačar opened a minute gap to the Valverde group after just a few kilometers of his attack. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Puerto de Pedro Bernado: 35:32
Avg Power: 333 W (5.0 W/kg)
Avg Cadence: 97 rpm

Puerto de Peña Negra: 35:20
Avg Power: 346 W (5.0 W/kg)
Avg Cadence: 95 rpm

Attack to finish: 1:01:54
Avg Power: 320 W (4.85 W/kg)
(Normalized power estimated ~360+ W)
Avg Cadence: 96 rpm

Full Stage: 5:16:55
Distance: 190.4 km (117.3 miles)
Elevation Gain: 2318 m (7605 ft)
Avg Speed: 35.7 kph (22.2 mph)
Total Work: 4811 kJ
Avg Weighted Power: 297 W