Jonas Vingegaard dominated the Itzulia Basque Country stage race, winning the overall title and three stages. On the final day the Tour de France champion launched on the penultimate Arrate climb and did his career-best pure ᵉw/kg performance.
The final day of Basque Country is always exciting as the parcours contains multiple steep 10-15 minute climbs, offering opportunities for attackers and various tactics. At the start of the stage, a strong breakaway with a dozen GC riders and climbers got a decent gap. The group included two Jumbo-Visma climbers, Attila Valter and Steven Kruijswijk who possibly could be used as satellite riders if the race leader Jonas Vingegaard attacked or conversely needed help in the second half of the stage after the steepest climb, the Krabelin in the middle of the stage.
Hirschi, Dunbar, Guerreiro, Paret-Peintre, Felipe Martinez, Buchmann, Vanhoucke, Chaves, Armirail and Taaramäe were other riders that made the split. Buchmann was the closest in GC being only 97 seconds behind the race leader Vingegaard but as Jumbo-Visma had two riders and Vallter was only 6 seconds behind Buchmann in the GC, the Dutch team did not need to chase. Bahrain-Victorious had no riders in the leading group and it was Hermann Pernsteiner’s duty to pull the peloton for a long time. There were attempts in the peloton from Mauro Schmid and other riders to bridge the gap to the breakaway but it was clear that Jumbo-Visma had a plan and they were going to launch Vingegaard on the steep Izua climb (4.1 km, 9.0%) with around 30 kilometres to go.
First, it was Sam Oomen who did a strong pull at the base of Itzua. After that Cofidis climber Ion Izagirre upped the tempo on his home climb which was perfect for Vingegaard who a few moments later accelerated and only Enric Mas stayed in his wheel. The Hungarian champion Valter was waiting for his teammate and did a one-minute pull.
After Valter it was Kruijswijk’s time to smash as the Jumbo-Visma masterclass continued. The Flying Dutchman had saved some energy and did a 90-second pull showing great legs like on Plateau de Solaison in the 2023 Dauphiné. Mas was still in the wheel, while Landa was chasing in the background.
They caught Ruben Guerreiro, the teammate of Mas, but it was Vingegaard’s time to attack. He distanced Mas immediately as the Spaniard was riding over his limit trying to follow the Jumbo-Visma mountain train, with the Spaniard losing 43 seconds in two kilometres and being caught by the chasing group with Landa and the other GC riders.
Vingegaard was giving his all and quickly caught Chaves as the last breakaway survivor with Schmid on his wheel. Vingegaard did the climb in 11 minutes and 17 seconds. Felix Gall who was in the GC group before Izua spent 2718 kilojoules for 2 hours and 57 minutes, which is 14.27 kj/kg/h. It is almost 3000 kilojoules for 3 hours and the tempo on climbs was not easy. The GC group did Krabelin in 16:25 min, with Vingegaard pushed 6:17 ᵉw/kg in the draft behind Pernsteiner who was pulling.
Vingegaard up the Izua did an estimated 7.46 ᵉw/kg for 11 minutes and 17 seconds and became the first rider since Alberto Contador (2009 Verbier) to reach the pink All-Time Top 25 trend-line. Vingegaard already did an impressive performance on La Astuariana climb on Stage 4, which was over the red generational trend-line. This was possible thanks to almost perfect conditions – a low-altitude climb with steep gradients and a hard and steady pace from the bottom.
It was even a headwind up Izua (red sectors - headwind, purple - cross headwind) which maybe helped to push a little bit more watts as the resistance is even bigger.
Vingegaard won the stage by 47 seconds. After Izau was left the Urkaregi climb (5 km, 4.6%) but unfortunately it is not steep enough to calculate without a big margin of error. The Jumbo-Visma climber did it in 10 minutes and pushed around 6.6-6.8 ᵉw/kg after going full gas on Izua and risking on the descent.
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Remco Evenepoel already did two incredible pure ᵉw/kg performances on Jebel Hafeet and Lo Port which were really close to the pink trendline. It was a matter of time before someone would finally break this barrier and Vingegaard did it first. It would be curious to see what Pogačar, Vingegaard, Vine, Evenepoel, Roglič and other elite climbers would do in a mountain time trial. There will be a mountain time trial in the Giro with Evenepoel and Roglič on the start line but it contains a flat start and is after three weeks of racing. But an Alpe d'Huez or Ventoux uphill ITT in Tour de France would be something else as there is a real chance that records would fall. The Bjarne Riis record up Hautacam under perfect conditions (a flat stage before the climb like in 1996 when Riis did it) also would not be completely safe.
There are 30 performances that are above the Top 25 All-Time trendline (or it should be called now Top 30). This list included nine mountain time trials and 21 road race performances. It is easier to do a performance in a mountain time trial which makes Vingegaard's achievement even more impressive. He is currently 19th in the ranking of pure ᵉw/kg performances in road races. The earliest on this list is the Ventoux ITT performance from Jean-François Bernard who did it in 1987, the only one before the 1990s. Marco Pantani's climbing effort on Flumserberg in 1995 is the best one by a mile.
Vingegaard won three stages and overall titles both in O Gran Camino and Basque Country but in Paris-Nice, where he finished 3rd behind Tadej Pogačar and David Gaudu, his climbing level was nowhere near his shape in Spain. The stages in Paris-Nice were hard but there was a big drop in watts even accounting for all possible factors such as difficulty of the stage, temperature e.t.c.
The level of the GC field was not low in Basque Country, even without Roglic, Pogacar or Evenepoel present to challenge Vingegaard. Mikel Landa on La Asturiana in Stage 4 did one of his best climbing performances and was clearly in good shape in his home race. His best pure performance was on Lo Port in Volta a Catalunya a couple of weeks earlier where all the conditions were perfect.
Kārlis Ozols (@CyclingGraphs)