Giro d'Italia

After charging to victory, Marcel Kittel keeps power numbers under his hat

Knowing a rival's power numbers could give other riders an advantage, says the super sprinter

DUBLIN, Ireland (VN) — Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) bolted like a cannonball from 10 wheels back to win Sunday at the Giro d’Italia, but when asked by journalists to reveal his power numbers in the sprint, he balked.

“I don’t know my power numbers from the sprint today, but even if I knew them, I wouldn’t want to reveal them,” Kittel said with a smile.

Power numbers for sprinters on the flats are just as important as they are for the GC contenders in the mountains. They’re the measuring stick for success.

And protecting that data has become something of a controversy over the past season or two, with some pundits equating high power numbers with doping practices.

Sprinters typically can produce top-end power around 1800 watts, with former track world champion Theo Bos (Belkin) topping 2000 watts.

Kittel said he doesn’t want to reveal his power numbers in order to protect himself against his rivals.

“Of course, I know my data and power output. It’s a big science, and I like to compare it to motor sports,” Kittel said. “The reason I would like to keep my numbers to myself, is when someone else knows my power output, it’s possible to create a strategy around it. When people know how much I can output on a climb, then they could go that much harder to drop me, so that’s why I prefer to keep it to myself.”

As rival Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) said, the only way to beat Kittel is to drop him on the climbs.

“I think he’s shown he’s the fastest man in the world,” Matthews said. “On the flats, he’s unbeatable. He will lose some of his top-end speed in the hillier terrain, but with the leadout he has in these flat stages, he’s pretty unbeatable at the moment.”