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Watts for 2015 Vuelta a Andalucía
2015-02-22, 09:15 - Frédéric Portoleau
The 2015 cycling season starts with an epic fight between Froome and Contador at the Vuelta a Andalucía. The British should win the general, 2s ahead the Spanish.
The riders climbed the Alto de Hazallanas (1674m) in the Sierra Nevada and its extreme slopes (up to 21%) during the 3rd stage. Chris Horner had outrun Nibali here during the 2013 Vuelta.
Contador attacked 7 km before the finish line, in the last part of the Alto. He climbed in 23 minutes and 35seconds, only 20s more than Horner in 2013. Contador's 78kg-standard power (the power "pushed" by a virtual 78kg cyclist in the peloton) corresponds to 434 watts +/- 7 watts (*). And his real power is about 6.3 w/kg. The last part of the climb took less than 25 minutes, and it was ridden after a 10 km climb and a short descent. Romain Bardet, very good third, lost 1min39s. His 78kg-standard power is 402 watts, around 5.8 w/kg (8% less than Contador). Another young cycling talent, Merhawi Kudus from Eritrea, ends 7th losing 2min15s, which means 392 watts 78kg-standard power and 5.75 w/kg (real power).
The day after, the cyclists rode the Alto de Allanadas (998m), close to Jaen. Froome took his revenge and attacked 1.8km before the finish line, Contador ended 28s after. The last 3 kms were climbed by Froome in 11min43s : 452 watts 78kg-standard power, and 6.5 w/kg in real power. Contador maybe lost too much energy in his previous performance.
The climb to Mende at Le Tour de France or Paris-Nice (Côte de la Croix Neuve) is similar to Allanadas, but there is another 1km section before a descent to the Alto de Allanadas. Contador and Rodriguez pushed 484 Watts (78kg-standard) at the Tour de France 2010. Froome produced 470 Watts (78kg-standard) during 17 minutes, at la Planche des Belles Filles (Tour de France 2012) or in his fight with Cobo at Peña Cabarga (Vuelta 2011).
Froome and Contador are not actually at their best level, but they are in a pretty good shape in February. The others cyclists at the "Ruta del Sol" are significantly below them. For several years, the best riders in stage races have reached their best level earlier in the season than before, and they can stay much longer at this high level.
(*) with slopes greater than 9%, light wind (based on live data from weather stations) and without drafting, the calculations are really accurate. If you want to have more information about mathematical incertitudes, please read my last piece of work.