Mathieu van der Poel won the hard and hilly Dwars Door Vlaanderen race on Wednesday, showing great shape in advance of his bid for the Ronde van Vlaanderen this weekend. The Dutch superstar since his return from a back injury has uploaded every ride on Strava and is basically the only superstar rider who shares his power and heart rate data publicly in 2022. Let’s dissect Van der Poel’s powerful win.
Berg ten Houte split
The race was decided on the Berg ten Houte climb, where INEOS duo Ben Turner and Tom Pidcock lit up the climb and only the strongest of the peloton could follow their move. Van der Poel needed to put out 490 watts for 4:05 but the hardest part was the first minute of the effort, where Dutchman pushed 721 watts (9.61 w/kg) for 60 seconds. Considering that Van der Poel drafted in their wheels, while Pidcock and Turner did the work in front, the British riders’ numbers must be outrageous. 10 w/kg for 60 seconds is decent power even with fresh legs, but this was done after two and a half hours hard racing. No wonder why only six riders from the peloton made the split.
Chaotic last 10 minutes
The most impressive part of van der Poel’s performance occurred in the last 10 minutes of the race. The Dutchman had to close multiple attacks from Stefan Küng, Victor Campenaerts and Tiesj Benoot, which show up as 600-750 watts spikes for ~30 seconds. He averaged 439 watts (5.85 w/kg) during this 10 minute period, with his normalised power over 6w/kg, after he was racing for almost 4 hours.
Van der Poel follows Benoot and wins the race
With 1.7 km to go, van der Poel bridged to Tiesj Benoot’s attack without an acceleration. He just needed to do 500-600 watts to close the gap to Jumbo-Visma rider, while no one reacted in the group behind. Van der Poel averaged 501 watts (6.68 w/kg) for 2:04 in the winning move, where he worked together with Benoot, who could not do anything against van der Poel in the final sprint. During the sprint, Alpecin-Fenix superstar hit 1388 watts of maximum power, averaging 1188 watts for 10 seconds. Impressive power, considering how hard the last 3 hours of the race was as well as the preceding 10 minutes.
Full race data
In the 4 hour-long Dwars Door Vlaanderen van der Poel spent 4617 kilojoules. That is 1128 kj per hour or 15.04 kj/h/kg. His average power was 313 watts (4,17 w/kg) and average heart rate 147 bpm. According to Strava sauce, he burned 26 tacos, 149 cups of broccoli, or 29 beers.
The hilly section
If the easy and flatter early section of the race is removed then the numbers are even more ludicrous. During the last 2:41 hours the average speed on a hilly course with 3-5 minute climbs was 45.5 km/h. No wonder that van der Poel averaged 351 watts (4.68 w/kg) during this time but with a much higher normalised power of 404 watts, given the up and down nature of the efforts. His heart rate regularly hit over 185bpm with short sections of recovery on the downhills. During this period he spent 1265 kj per hour or 16.87 kj/kg/h, which is an extremely high calorie burn rate.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen is 4 hours long, while monuments Ronde van Vlaanderen or Paris-Roubaix are usually over 6 hours. The two hour difference is extremely important, as not all riders can perform at the same level after the additional fatigue. In the case of Van der Poel, he lost his two most important sprints in 2021, in Ronde van Vlaanderen to Kasper Asgreen and in Paris-Roubaix to both Sonny Colbrelli and Florian Vermeersch. In Milano-Sanremo, where there is less fatigue in the first 4 hours compared to other monuments, MVDP produced a similar sprint to Dwars door Vlaanderen, with 1358 watts peak and 1206 watts for 10 seconds. In Ronde van Vlaanderen 2021, MVDP produced a better peak, at 1470 watts, as well as a comparable 1160 watts for 10 seconds, however he faded very quickly after 10 seconds and could not maintain his sprint from the 200 metre mark where he launched.