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Tour de France power analysis: Tadej Pogačar's record-breaking ascent of the Col de Peyresourde

Tadej Pogačar Peyresourde record
Tadej Pogačar attacks on the Col de Peyresourde (Image credit: Getty Images)

Stage 8 of this year's Tour de France took us to the Pyrenees, via the Port de Balès and the Col de Peyresourde for the first half the Pyrenean doubleheader that is proving the first true GC test of the race.

On a day where Jumbo Visma 'shook the tree' and their Slovenian leader, Primož Roglič looked every bit the leader at Junbo-Visma, Thibaut Pinot suffered dramatically, Adam Yates fought valiantly and Egan Bernal clung on bravely

However it was another Slovenian, Tadej Pogačar, who looked the strongest of the stage. Just a day after losing 1:21 in the crosswinds of stage 7, he attacked three times on the Peyresourde and upon finally being allowed to go clear, put in a record-breaking ride, ascending the climb in 24 minutes and 35 seconds. 

In doing so, he beat the former record of 25:20 set by Alexander Vinokourov and Iban Mayo in 2003. In fact, according to Climbing Records database, Porte, Landa, Quintana and Roglič managed to meet or beat the 17-year-old time, too.

More impressively, they did so with a headwind. 

Tadej Pogačar power

Pogačar's attack was met with an 11 mph headwind (Image credit: timeanddate.com)

Much of the record-breaking time can be attributed to the early pace-setting by Jumbo-Visma, as Tom Dumoulin's sacrificial ride put several riders into difficulty to the benefit of his team leader, Roglič, isolating Yates and distancing many of the GC contenders.   

The break down of the climb

Tadej Pogačar power

Comparing the ascent of the Peyresourde: Tadej Pogačar (pink) versus Rigoberto Uran (black) (Image credit: Strava)

Both Pogačar and Rigoberto Urán have uploaded their rides to Strava, so using Strava's segment compare tool, it's clear the point at which Pogačar managed to distance his rivals. At the maximum, he managed to put a minute into his rivals, before his rivals pulled back 12 seconds in the final kilometre. 

Tadej Pogačar power

Pogačar's data from the ascent of the Col de Peyresourde (Image credit: Strava)

Pogačar's climb can be split into three sections: Pre-attack, the attack and post-attack. 

Pre-attack is where he followed in the wheels of Tom Dumoulin's pace-setting, trying his luck twice with tentative attacks and being followed by his rivals. The attack itself occurred when Pogačar successfully gapped his opponents and Roglič decided not to follow and instead allow his teammate to come back. The post-attack came when Pogačar subsequently got away and settled into his rhythm.  

Prior to the successful attack, Pogačar's power was understandably less consistent due to following the wheels and trying two tentative accelerations. This section lasted approximately 13:20 and he averaged 410 watts; an impressive number for anyone, and even more impressive considering Pogačar is touted - by ProCyclingStats - to weigh just 66kg. 

This puts his power at 6.21 W/kg. Impressive, but overshadowed entirely by what was about to come.  

Tadej Pogačar power

A 17-second affair, Pogačar's attack, where he peaked at 880 watts (Image credit: Strava)

The attack itself was a 17-second affair. The Slovenian maxed out at 880 watts (13.3 W/kg), and averaged 643w (9.74 W/kg) over the period, before settling into his rhythm. 

Tadej Pogačar power

Post-attack, Pogačar settled into a rhythm at around 450 watts (Image credit: Strava)

The post-attack moment is where the Slovenian really did the damage. This section lasted 10 minutes and 25 seconds, throughout which the power was essentially a time trial effort, a very linear execution of 447 watts (6.77 W/kg). 

Unsurprisingly, Pogačar took the Strava KOM (Peyresourde depuis Balés) along the way, with a total average of 429 watts (6.5 W/kg). 

Quite the warm up

Tadej Pogačar power

Pogačar's day in the saddle, by numbers (Image credit: Strava)

This wasn't his first effort of the day. With three mountains on the route profile for the day, Pogačar tackled the first ascent - the Col de Menté - at a comparative amble, averaging (a still enormous) 369 watts (5.6 W/kg) for 20:33.

Tadej Pogačar power

The Port de Balès, which took 46:56, was ridden at an average of 379 watts (Image credit: Strava)

The second mountain - the Port de Balès - was harder again, but still within the Slovenian's FTP - which using Strava's Zone Distribution tool, we approximate at 410 watts (6.2 W/kg). For this ascent, he averaged 379 watts for 46:56, including the climb-proper - 10 kilometres at 8% - where he spent 30 minutes at 404 watts (6.1 W/kg).  

For a reference of just how good this is, anyone who's spent time racing on Zwift may be familiar with the five Zwift Power categories (A+, A, B, C and D). A+ is the highest here, and to get yourself into this category, you'll need an FTP of 4.6 W/kg. Pogačar did 6.7 W/kg for 24 minutes, at the end of a four-hour mountain stage, on the eighth consecutive day of the world's hardest bike race.  

He wasn't done yet

He then went on to descend the Peyresourde - 7km at an average of minus 8% - in under six minutes, before finishing off the stage by taking two more Strava KOMs (Estervielle-Loudenvielle GBP and Aranvielle) riding at 443 watts for a final 3:46, to finish the stage 38 seconds ahead Romain Bardet, and 40 seconds ahead of the rest of his GC rivals. 

Pogačar now sits ninth on GC, 48 seconds down on leader Adam Yates.