Ever wonder how hard pro cyclists are riding when watching a race? Ever delude yourself into thinking you could hang for awhile?
We just concluded the opening weekend of the Spring Classics and AG AG2R La Mondiale rider Oliver Naesen was kind enough to upload his rides to Strava so we can do a little digging. Boy oh boy will these numbers make you feel like a real amateur.
Former Belgian champion Oliver Naesen had a great opening weekend finishing 10th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and 43rd at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, playing part in the five-man break that sent Bob Jungels off to eventual victory in the later.
So what kind of wattage did it take on the road and cobble to secure these results?
Through 4 hours and 45 minutes of racing at Omloop, Naesen put out an average weighted power of 322 watts. Then, just 24 hours later, he managed even higher wattage, managing 336 watts for five hours at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Oliver Naesen’s weight of 71kg (156lb) makes that an average of 4.7W/kg for the entire Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne race. A very good amateur would struggle to hold that for 20 minutes, a mortal might throw in the towel in a matter of minutes and an untrained person off the street likely can’t even hit that number to begin with.
That’s just looking at average wattage for the overall race, some of Naesen’s segments are even more impressive.
On the Kwaremont, Naesen had to cover a series of attacks. He held a steady 419w for 3 minutes 45 seconds with a surge to 511w to cover Stannard and Yves Lampaert. Then Naesen joined a breakaway of five riders for the final 65km of Kuurne. The group, containing eventual winner Jungels, Davide Ballerini and Sebastien Langeveld, held the peloton at around 40 seconds before Jungels’s launched his race winning attack at 16km to go. Throughout Naesen rode along at an average of 45kmh, putting out 344 watts with a peak of 1,171 watts.
Although we don’t have power data for Jungels, Naesen’s puts his attack into perspective. Despite the group of five riding along at 45kmh, and a member of that group averaging 344 watts, Jungels was able to attack and stay away, riding at 50kmh into a headwind.
Returning to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for a minute. While Naesen was part of the large group trying to catch the race leaders, they took on the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg. The Muur is a beast of a climb with sections of road tilting above 20%. Naesen rode the climb at 480 watts for 3 minutes. That’s 6.7W/kg, interestingly dead on with the watt per kilo figure that Tyler Hamilton touts as a Tour de France winning threshold wattage in his book The Secret Race.
If you want to give that effort a go, plop yourself on your smart trainer, do a short warmup and then multiply your weight in kilos by 6.7 and target that wattage for 3 minutes (for me that’s 85kg(195lb) * 6.7W/kg = 593 watts). You’ll probably fail, now imagine doing it after 105 miles of racing. Ya, pros are something else.