Jonas Vingegaard proved that Tadej Pogačar is not invincible and made a huge upset in the Tour de France stage 11, turning the GC battle upside down. Vingegaard struck with 4 kilometres to go on the mighty Col du Granon climb (11.28 km, 9.20%), cracking Pogačar badly. Vingegaard broke the Col du Granon record by more than 5 minutes, which was previously owned by Urs Zimmermann and Greg LeMond, who set it in the 1986 Tour.
Col du Granon is one of the hardest climbs ever used in the Tour. 11.4 kilometres and the steep 9.1% gradient is a serious challenge for everyone, but it tops out at 2404 metres above sea level, which makes it dangerous because after going in the red zone at high altitude, riders might blow up, which happened today.
Tadej Pogačar was the favourite to win the stage. Before the climb started his odds in the betting markets were around 1.8, while Jonas Vingegaard was second favourite at 3.6. Before Col du Granon Jumbo-Visma tried to attack multiple times Pogačar, using both Primož Roglič and Vingegaard at the end of the Telegraphe and early shallow slopes of the Col du Galibier. The strategy did not work immediately as Pogačar closed every attack and Roglič completely cracked later in the race, but it made the UAE Team Emirates rider more fatigued. After pacing by teammate Marc Soler and another attack by Primoz Roglic, Pogačar even took matters into his own hands, pacing the entirety of the last section of the Galibier with Vingegaard in his wheel.
In 1986, Greg LeMond on Col du Granon gained more than 3 minutes to his closest rival, the race leader and teammate Bernard Hinault. After the stage LeMond became the new leader of the race. The exact same thing happened also today, when Vingegaard dropped the maillot jaune and gained multiple minutes.
Vingegaard attacked late on Granon as he did not have teammates and the GC group was paced by Pogačar’s teammate Rafal Majka. Possibly Majka paced too hard on Granon and helped to cook Pogačar, who lost 2 minutes and 51 seconds in a short span of time to Vingegaard, unable to ever respond to his attack. A similar thing happened also in the 2021 Tour, where the Dane dropped Pogačar on Ventoux and gained 40 seconds very quickly.
Vingegaard did 6.10 w/kg for 35 minutes and 55 seconds, breaking Urs Zimmermann and Greg LeMond’s record by 5:20. However in the 1986 Tour the stage was even harder and they were riding 9-10 kg bikes.
Vingegaard’s high altitude effort is very impressive because it is way harder to push big watts when the oxygen amount is limited and the air density is lower. Compared to Egan Bernal’s best high altitude performances from the 2019 Tour and the 2021 Giro, Vingegaard’s effort seems superior.
- Col du Granon 6.10 w/kg for 35:55 (start 1366m -> top 2404m, average altitude 1885m)
- Passo Giau 5.91 w/kg for 32:45 (start 1303m -> top 2225m, avg. alt. 1764m)
- Col d’Iseran 5.77 w/kg for 35:50 (1804m -> 2758m, avg. alt. 2281m)
Vingegaard now has a 2:22min lead over Pogačar but the Tour is not over as there are left many hard stages and everyone knows what happened during the 2020 Tour stage 20 time-trial, where Pogačar made a huge upset, becoming the new race leader after a nuclear performance on La Planche des Belles Filles.
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Pogačar today was not great as the temperature was over 30C, which is not optimal for him, combined with long high altitude climbs.
Pogačar has not been able to drop and crack Vingegaard on climbs that are over 30 minutes since the 2021 Tour. Vingegaard did his best pure w/kg performance right before the Tour, where he pushed 6.32 w/kg for 34:34 on Plateau de Solaison. Vingegaard would have been even faster up that climb if he would not have needed to wait for his teammate Primož Roglič, who was struggling on his wheel.
Tomorrow the stage finishes with Alpe d’Huez, which suits Vingegaard’s abilities as it is expected to be climbing around 38-39 minutes at a steep gradient, if the pace is high. Jumbo-Visma must kill Pogačar’s GC win ambitions, as the Slovenian did in the 2021 Tour on stage 8.
Maybe I missed something but how can Pgacar and Vingegaard have the same W/kg on Planche des Belles Filles when they had the same time, but Vingegaard is 5 to 7 kg lighter?
Thomas, it is exactly for this reason why you use the measure w/kg and not watt. I.e. they are pushing different total watt numbers, but when accounting for height they push the same. since Pogacar is heavier he also pushes higher watts.
It watts per kilo, so it has been corrected for already
Temperatures weren’t actually that high today:
32°C max on Montvernier, 26-22°C on Galibier, 23-16°C on Granon (according to Bardets Strava file). It seems more likely Pogacar suffered from hypoglycemia given how much time he lost in a short period.
Bring on tomorrow
gt must stay with the leaders, and killed it in tt. go team ineos
Interesting comparison with Bernal’s numbers. But out of interest:
1.) Bernal on the Col de l’Iseran presumably wasn’t going right at his limit because the Iseran wasn’t the end of the stage (as we all know the finish in Tignes was cancelled due to weather but with a good 38km between the top of the Iseran and the finish in Tignes surely Bernal would have been holding back a little, especially as a lot of that distance is flat.)
2.) Weather conditions were much worse on the stage Bernal won to Cortina d’Ampezzo compared to this finish on the Col du Granon, bad enough that the Fedaia and Pordoi passes were removed. With the rain and the cold surely Bernal would have been slightly disadvantaged?
I do believe Vingegaard is a stronger climber than Bernal, potentially even at altitude but I have a feeling Bernal might be a bit closer to his level than they suggest (pre crash anyway, hopefully he gets back to his best as he is one of the most exciting racers.)
How do the W/Kg estimations work? There is so much that goes into how fast a rider climbs beyond power and rider weight (aero, bike weight, rolling resistance, etc) it would be interesting to know how those are calculated.
Those other factors are accounted for by guesstimated values put into a physical model. The same goes for weight, by the way – no-one knows exactly how much the riders weighed that morning, or on that specific climb for that matter.
A high w/kg is highly indicative of a good climbing performance but it isn’t the be all and end all – a heavier rider with the same w/kg as a lighter rider will go marginally faster uphill due to aero drag being proportionally lower on a heavier rider. Also, different tire choices and so on also make a difference, also, not every bike is hitting 6.8 kg on the nose.
So take all these figures with a grain of salt
*except, as LR pointed out by shouting down the mic, the predictions ‘ stats have been spot on almost every time so far. 😊
Thanks. Also, where does the climb time data come from? Is there an official source or is someone clicking a stopwatch while watching the races?
Could be nice, if the tendency lines for the riders performances had a R^2 value, making it easier to judge whether its trustworthy.