Observed Straval: why Van der Poel did not fall in value and could have beaten Amstel

Is that Mathieu van der Poel or Wout van Aert? Or is it Tadej Pogacar? The Amstel Gold Race proved that it was not so easy to ride a bike last Sunday. Michal Kwiatkowski surprised all favorites in the final with an attack that he and Benoît Cosnefroy held until the finish. Poland had a great day according to his Strava numbers. Van der Poel’s biggest favorite was a little less, but definitely good enough …

Let’s look at the overall figures first, because we can see how fast it went. Kwiatkowski received a letter from Strava of 250.11 kilometers, 3,541 vertical meters, which took 6 hours, 6 minutes and 38 seconds. Officially covered 254.1 kilometers, so GPS inside Kwiato’s own the power meter has gone a bit off the rails somewhere. PCS recorded total time 6 hours, 1 minute and 19 seconds. In Stravas, the total average speed dropped to 40.9 kilometers per hour. If we stick to the official figures, it was 42.2 kilometers per hour last Sunday.

This went on average slightly faster than in 2019, when Van der Poel won the epic edition of the Amstel Gold Race. In terms of watts per kilogram, the two were not inferior in either issue. Three years ago, Van der Poel noted 4.5 watts per kilogram throughout the day, just like Kwiatkowski did last Sunday. If we understand how good Van der Poel was in 2019, it can be concluded that Kwiatkowski also had a great day last Sunday. Fortunately, there are more numbers to confirm this.

Kwiatkowski will drive hard in the finals …

Kwiatkowski made it to the finals after attacking Amstel faster than ever before in the final round. The group of favorites passed the section “Amstel: Keutenberg-Cauberg-Finish” in 17 minutes and 46 seconds. That made it 8 seconds faster than Floris De Tier’s old peak from 2015. It shows how fast it has already gone. At Keutenberg, the greens were finally separated from the wheat, and eleven men came to the front. Kwiatkowski attacked crossing the finish line and was never seen again …

At the 16-kilometer final lap, Kwiatkowski showed what he had. He drove an average of 44.7 kilometers per hour in the finals, a good 320 watts. It is strangely difficult, knowing that Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg had yet to be conquered, and Kwiatkowski and Cosnefroy were still lurking in the last straight. At Bemelerberg, Kwiatkowski touched 6 watts per kilogram, showing that he was really on the border and pulled out all the stops in the last few kilometers.

Sprinted with Cosnefroy, who finally reached the millimeters, Lill another 1194-watt sprint from the feet. It was enough that INEOS Grenadiers’ Pole achieved a surprising victory. Surprising? Yes, because who had Kwiatkowski and Cosnefroy write on the podium before the start? Be honest, ah! Also surprising, because the numbers were very strong, but not unfamiliar.

Observed Straval: why Van der Poel did not fall in value and could have beaten Amstel
Kwiatkowski beats Cosnefroy in a nail-biting sprint.

… and yet Van der Poel could have defeated Amstel

Before the Amstel Gold Race, the favorite was Van der Poel. However, the Dutchman felt that he could not always win as a top favorite. The Alpecin-Fenix ​​leader tried to catch up with Kwiatkowski several times in the last round, but the rest were able to respond to the rubber. This gave rise to the classic running and stagnation game, played by two front-end leaders. As good as Kwiatkowski was, Van der Poel was a little better in terms of numbers. He had already lost the match by that time.

MVDP explained later that he had to answer everything as a favorite, but just can’t. And that he didn’t have one hundred percent feet for that. So make your choices and then you will always see that you let one race go to the finish line. Van der Poel should have joined when Kwiatkowski entered the final round, but that’s when he looked at the others. The small gap became the difference, and due to the running and stagnation, the difference was quite large enough for Kwiatkowski and Cosnefroy to spit for it. Even Tiesj Benoot got in the middle when poker was playing again and there was no going forward.

Add to Kwiatkowski’s figures, we can only conclude that Van der Poel’s group had more impetus than the forefront. Lill Van der Poel undoubtedly gave everything, but Van der Poel responded well to his average 320 watts (with a weight of 4.7 watts per kilogram) over his last 16 kilometers. In the final lap, it ran an average of 379 watts (weighing 5.0 watts per kilogram) and squeezed in fourth place in the sprint at 1,384 watts. With that, he had overtaken Kwiatkowski and Cosnefroy, perhaps the length of a wheel.

Van der Poel a little less, but good enough

Journalist Thijs Zonneveld is also a number enthusiast who listed some of the numbers we find in Strava after the Amstel Gold Race. Van der Poel drove 740 watts in one minute, 396 watts in twenty minutes and 362 watts in 60 minutes. With that, he fell short of his values ​​on Sunday in the 2021 Strade Bianche, and this year he won the Tour of Flanders. in Round he drove 726 watts per minute, 416 watts in twenty minutes, and 382 watts per hour. Especially slightly longer than Amstel in longer blocks.

Nevertheless, his form was more than enough to win. Completely without Van Aort and Pogacar, Van der Poel had the legs to win his second Amstel Gold Race if it weren’t for the fact that the race wasn’t just about numbers. At Bemelerberg, he drove an average of 521 watts, which is a Dutch personal record. So he never drove there faster. What’s striking: Van der Poel’s heart rate was never higher than 186 beats per minute in the last cycle. We know from other Strava analyzes that it’s not close to his maximum heart rate. This confirms that he was not at his peak.

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Vmore Spotted on Strava click here.

Bram van der Ploeg (Twitter: @BvdPloegg | e-mail: b.vanderploeg@indeleiderstrui.nl)

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