Power Numbers in Grand Tours – Shocking Time Trial Results

By Jiri Kaloc

Jonas Vingegaard surprised everyone, including himself, during the individual time trial of the 2023 Tour de France. The victory margin he was able to achieve and the power-to-weight ratio he maintained are nothing short of spectacular. Let’s take a closer look.

First half of the time trial

It was clear from the first checkpoint that Jonas meant business. He flew past the 1st time check 16 seconds ahead of his GC rival Tadej Pogačar and 49 seconds ahead of his Jumbo-Visma teammate Wout Van Aert. His coaches later said that they were worried he was going to pay for the blazing-fast start later in the time trial. But the 2nd time check wasn’t suggesting anything of that kind, Jonas was only extending his lead.

From the start to the 2nd time check

  • Vingegaard: time 19:05; average speed 50,6 km/h
  • Pogačar: time 19:36; average speed 49,3 km/h
  • Van Aert: time 20:16; average speed 47,6 km/h

King of the Mountains points

The 3rd time check offered King of the Mountains points included the climb to Côte de Domancy. Giulio Ciccone was battling Neilson Powless for the polka dot jersey and it was clear that both of them did everything they could to get the maximum points. They even switched from their heavy TT bikes to ultra-light climbing bikes for the climb. Ciccone was able to beat Vingegaard in this segment but only by 3 seconds despite riding noticeably slower in the 1st half of the time trial and switching to a different bike for the climb.

Côte de Domancy (from the 2nd to the 3rd check point)

  • Ciccone: 6:44; ~7,4W/kg
  • Vingegaard: 6:47; ~7,4W/kg
  • Powless: 7:20; 6,5W/kg
  • Pogačar: 7:21; ~6,5W/kg
  • Van Aert: 7:26; ~6,4W/kg

Second half of the time trial

After the 3rd time check, the course continued to climb at a lower gradient all the way to the finish line at Combloux. This sustained climb from the 2nd time check to the finish line is where Jonas Vingegaard was able to continuously push at a power-to-weight ratio of approximately 7,4W/kg for over 13 minutes. This performance is truly out of this world, especially in the context of more than 2 weeks of hard racing at the Tour de France.

The climb to Combloux (from the 2nd checkpoint to the finish line)

  • Vingegaard: 13:31; ~7,4W/kg
  • Pogačar: 14:38; ~6,7W/kg
  • Van Aert: 15:11; ~6,2W/kg
  • Wout van Aert
    Van Aert crosses the finish line of stage 16 of the Tour de France. © Profimedia

The biggest time trial victory margin in modern cycling history

To put Vingegaard’s win in the right perspective, let’s take a look at some of the most impressive time trial victory margins in Grand Tours over the last 10 years. For example, in stage 20 of the 2014 Tour de France, Tony Martin won 1 minute and 39 seconds ahead of Tom Dumoulin, which is 1 second more than Vingegaard’s victory margin. The problem is, the 2014 time trial was 54 km long and the winning time was over 1 hour and 6 minutes, more than 2x as long as in 2023.

If we take course length and finishing time into account, the two most impressive winning margins are Tadej Pogačar’s 1 minute and 21 seconds in stage 20 of the 2020 Tour de France where he crossed the finish line in 55 minutes and 55 seconds after covering 36,2 km. And Primož Roglič’s 19 seconds in stage 1 of the 2019 Giro d’Italia after an 8 km long course, finishing in 12 minutes 54 seconds.

Neither of these comes close to Jonas Vingegaard finishing 1 minute and 38 seconds ahead of the 2nd place in 32 minutes and 36 seconds on a 22,4 km long course. And keep in mind, if it wasn’t for Tadej Pogačar, the victory margin would be 2 minutes and 51 seconds over the 3rd Wout Van Aert who is certainly no slouch when it comes to time trials.

The record-breaking power numbers of 2023 aren’t exclusive to Vingegaard and Pogačar. The next part of this series will look at other riders showing amazing performances on iconic Grand Tour climbs.