The Young Bull: Arnaud De Lie’s Monster Power

Rochefort – Belgium- cycling – Arnaud De Lie (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during 43rd Ethias-Tour de Wallonie (2.Pro) stage 3 – VisŽ > Rochefort (195.6km – Photo: Jimmy Bolcina/PN/Cor Vos © 2022

Arnaud De Lie had a stellar debut pro season, saving Lotto-Soudal from complete disaster with his UCI points ensuring they have all wildcard invitations for 2023. In his first year as a pro rider the young Walloon farmer won not one, not two, not three but eight one-day races. With his 2268 UCI points he was one of the best scorers in the whole peloton, mostly thanks to consistent top results in local Belgian races.

But how good was De Lie’s season outside of the points scoring? Is he actually a top rider capable of Monument success or was his great season simply the result of astute points farming in lower level races? In this article, we will dive deep into his power numbers using his data from every race and some of his harder training sessions, which are all uploaded on his Strava account.

Power Records

De Lie’s biggest weapon is his sprint. His peak 5 second power is 1603 watts, but more importantly he can push such huge values after spending 3000 kilojoules. As mere mortals it is hard to comprehend what 1155 watts for 30 seconds looks like but that is what De Lie pushed on his training ride on the 9th of June this year.

His power values up to 5 minutes are also world class. 542 watts for 5 minutes, even when fresh, is one of the better absolute 5 minute power values in the whole peloton especially when you consider that riders like Ganna with superior 5 minute records do not possess the sprint of De Lie. More importantly, with fatigued legs in races De Lie can push close to 500 watts for 5 minutes with an ability to sprint afterwards. No wonder De Lie can also perform well in hilly classics or hilly finishes like Bretagne Classic.

Not Just a Bunch Sprinter

De Lie is both a bunch sprinter and one-day specialist. He is not a classic pure sprinter like Sam Bennett or Fabio Jakobsen despite being listed at 78 kg on both PCS and his Strava profile. This difference is elucidated in his power data, where he can produce huge absolute watts from 5 to 20 minute duration. So far, his 20 minute maximum power is 425 watts, which he produced on 20th February at the start of Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var Stage 3.

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var stage 3 – De Lie Strava data

De Lie’s teammate, Tim Wellens, was wearing the leader’s jersey and was under attack from the start of this explosive stage with Nairo Quintana trying to win GC. The young Belgian was probably was trying to hold on in the peloton to help Wellens in the following hour and practically did a full gas 20 minute FTP test. 5.44 w/kg for 20 minutes is no Wout van Aert, but it is solid considering that De Lie is 78 kilograms. A 60 kg rider on a 6% gradient climb would need to do around 5.8 w/kg to match the speed of the heavier rider.

Despite being a sprinter, De Lie’s 5 minute power makes him a potentially great classics rider. Already at 20 years old he proved that he can make small groups in selective smaller classics like Volta Limburg, where he crushed everyone in the final kilometre, winning with a 2 second margin over his closest rivals. De Lie also survived the very demanding Bretagne Classic course and finished 4th in the uphill sprint from a 18 man group, where he was the heaviest rider alongside puncheurs and proven classics riders like Wout Van Aert and Biniam Girmay.

De Lie’s Power After Fatigue

The ability to produce certain power numbers after fatigue at the end of races is the most important determinant of results in pro cycling. De Lie is special in that he has pushed his best 1 second, 5 second and 10 second power at the end of races after at least 3000 kilojoules spent. With this huge power he won many one-day race bunch sprints against top level sprinters such as Mark Cavendish, Sam Bennett, Fabio Jakobsen and Giacomo Nizzolo.

The most impressive sprint of the season was in Heylen Vastgoed Heistse Pijl one-day race, where De Lie dominated against Nizzolo and Cavendish in a long and demanding finish.

Heist op den Berg – Belgium – cycling – De Lie Arnaud (BEL) of Lotto Soudal celebrates the win before Nizzolo Giacomo (ITA) of Israel – Premier Tech and Cavendish Mark (GBR) of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team pictured during Heylen Vastgoed Heistse Pijl (1.1) a one day race between Vosselaar and Heist op den Berg (192.8KM) – Photo: Peter de Voecht/PN/Cor Vos © 2022

The craziest part is that De Lie did this incredible sprint after 4 hours and 23 minutes of racing and 3570 kilojoules, doing 1603w for 5 seconds, 1473w for 10 seconds and 1294w for 15 seconds in the final sprint. It is hard to compete against such a beast if his lead-out and positioning are competent.

Below you can see De Lie’s elite fatigue resistance by the numbers, with his Heylen Vastgoed Heistse Pijl sprint in the left-hand column compared to his career peak watts.

The top WorldTour classics typically require a rider to repeat 2-5 minute efforts at close to their peak ability. Recovery and ability to repeat those efforts is key for a rider’s success in those races. Below you can see De Lie’s best 5 minute power performances varied by preceding kilojoules.

De Lie did a 5 minute maximum power test at Lotto-Soudal’s training camp in January this year. Before pushing 523 watts for 5 minutes on the beautiful Granadella cove climb in Javea, he did easier intervals. With each time he added power and shortened the interval. Between each interval there were around 6 minutes rest period and after each one he stopped to measure his blood lactate levels. As you can see above, De Lie has added 20 watts to his 5 minute personal best in July.

Max 5 min power test – January 16, 2022

Power To Win Ronde van Vlaanderen

De Lie still has to improve a lot to perform well in hilly classics at WorldTour level. Van der Poel, who might be slightly lighter than De Lie, did 499 watts for 5 minutes and 5 seconds on Oude Kwaremont in Ronde van Vlaanderen 2022, which was almost 5 hours deep into the race and after 4800 kilojoules. The lighter Pogačar was even faster on the Kwaremont, scorching past the entire field. Despite this all out effort, after the first Kwaremont there was still seven big climbs left in the race.

Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia / UAE-Team Emirates) – Mathieu Van Der Poel (Netherlands / Team Alpecin Fenix) pictured during 106th Ronde van Vlaanderen – Tour des Flandres 2022 (1.UWT) a one day race from Antwerp to Oudenaarde (272.5KM) – Photo: Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2022

Monuments are a different beast and fatigue resistance becomes even more important in these big races. On the final Kwaremont climb Van der Poel pushed 475 watts just to keep up with Pogačar for 5 minutes and 20 seconds. That was after he had spent 6000 kilojoules in almost 6 hours. With fresh legs De Lie could follow Van der Poel but after that many kilojoules it would be impossible at his present physical level. Of course, De Lie is not a puncheur type rider like Van der Poel, but given his high absolute watts, perhaps in his prime he might keep up with the leaders in hilly Belgian classics or not lose so much time that he cannot come back shortly afterwards.

Van der Poel power on Ronde 2022 climbs

In Omloop, Gent Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 which are all 1-2 hours shorter than the Ronde, De Lie probably would still need to hit over 500 watts for 5 minutes after 5000 kiloujoules at the end of the race to be close to the leaders. He produced his top 5 minute power after at least 4000 kilojoules in Scheldeprijs so already he is not far off. In the final part of that race De Lie pushed 478 watts for 5 minutes but before that he had some time to recover and there were no climbs in Scheldeprijs, just strong crosswinds in the cold, which benefitted eventual winner Kristoff.

The Next Generation Classics Star

In his debut season De Lie performed exceptionally, not just with his UCI points but also his physical level. The Belgian team extended his contract until 2024 and, thanks to his 2022 performance, the Lotto-Dstny team will be able to start in every World Tour race in 2023. It is clear that De Lie might be the biggest classics star in the coming years and it would not be a surprise if some teams will try to offer a long term multi-million euro contract to lock up De Lie when he becomes available in 2025.

From the Monuments, Milano-Sanremo should suit him really well, with 500 watts for 5 minutes typically being more than sufficient to make it over the Poggio in the main group if positioning is good at the base. Success in Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaandaren if he keeps improving should not be unrealistic. In the hillier World-Tour classics this year like Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen he did not make the front group but it was in Spring and he definitely improved in the second part of the season as he showed in Bretagne Classic against top competition. Pressure from Belgium’s media comparing him to the next Tom Boonen will likely be high but the hype is justified, with expressed ability like De Lie has shown as a 20 year old being extremely rare.

  1. Monstruo, si la salud lo acompaña y no median caídas con seguridad que será e artífice de mantener al Lotto con las credenciales para todo el WT de 2024.

  2. I think Roubaix could suit him really well even though the team is too weak for really competing for a Top Ten there.

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