Power Analysis: Mathieu van der Poel on the Flanders Tour in 2022

I was not surprised that on Sunday Mathieu van der Poel crossed the rice first on the Tour of Flanders. And that’s because I quickly took a look at his power file with Dwars Door Vlaanderen last Wednesday, the 184-kilometer race for Flanders. Normalized power of 405 watts in two hours and forty-two minutes – this was the final DVV, which van der Poel won in the dominant fashion over Ties Benut in the sprint twice. I’ve never seen anything like it – over 400 watts in almost three hours.

Also read: Power analysis: how much power do professional cyclists produce during training?

Experts say that Flanders is another beast: 272 km versus 184 km may matter. Van der Paul lacks endurance. He hardly trained all winter. Of course, he finished third in Milan-Sanremo, but that 299 km race is so easy …

The biggest news on the tour of Flanders was the absence of Waut van Arta – with COVID. Then many saw Tadeusz Pogachar as the favorite to win the title, despite the fact that 2022 was his first attempt in the race. After Pogachar, van Arta and Van der Poel, the other participants were in the second echelon: Tom Podkok, Stefan Kung, Christoph Laporte and Casper Asgrin shouted, but few expected their victory.

Although he was a former winner, many doubted van der Paul’s chances on the Flanders Tour. The 27-year-old has just returned to the race fifteen days back to Milan Sanremo (where he finished 3rd) after a severe winter with knee and back injuries. Van der Poel hardly drove in January and underwent only some basic training before the unexpected start at the first monument of the season in Italy. Needless to say, his legs were fine.

So Mathieu van der Poel won the Tour of Flanders.

As always, the first hours of the second monument of the season were very young. The nine detached riders increased four minutes ahead for the first 100km, while van der Poel and the rest of the favorites sat in the pack before the race. This section of the race was easy for van der Paul (just look at his average heart rate), but for mere mortals it wouldn’t be easy. The pack still dismantled an average of almost 45 km per hour among the turns as well as the ups and downs of northwestern Belgium.

Mathieu van der Poel’s power map from the first three hours of races on the Tour of Flanders in 2022.

Van der Poel – the first 3 hours of the Tour of Flanders:
Average power: 247 W (3.3 W / kg)
Normalized power: 285 W (3.8 W / kg)
Average heart rate: 129 beats per minute

About halfway through the race began. Since then, the favorites have fought for every inch of the road, servants sacrificed themselves for team leaders, and a million screaming fans lined up on the paved climbs on the way to Udenaard.

With 140 km left, the peloton began winding chains of ascents to Flandrien, which included Oude Kwaremont, Molenberg, Berendries, Achterberg, Wolvenberg, Valkenberg, Kanarieberg, Paterberg, Koppenberg … and four or five more. All you need to remember are Kwaremont, Paterberg and Koppenberg, the most famous climbs in Flanders.

Kwaremont’s first pass was relatively easy for van der Paul, who climbed the steepest section in three minutes with an average power of 460 watts (6 watts / kg). The only reason it’s considered “easy” is that I compare it to what he and Pogachar did later in the race.

Before we consider the final, we need to explain what makes the Flanders Tour so difficult. If you look only at the last hour, you may find it hard to believe that so many riders have dropped on these two to three minute climbs. But in reality they raced for more than five hours and mostly performed VO2maximum intervals for all time.

Remaining from 140 to 55 km the field was mostly tired. The attacks, of course, were, but they did not go anywhere. And the favorites kept the powder dry. But it was still difficult – very difficult. This is what it took van der Paul to stay near the front of the peloton.

Van der Poel – from 140 to 55 km
Time: 1:54:58
Normalized power: 373 W (5 W / kg)
Kwaremont: 460 watts for 2:59
wolf mountain: 500 watts for 1:02
Keireberg: 450 watts for 2:25
Molenberg: 500 watts for 1:35
Valkenberg: 430 W for 3:26
Berg Ten Hout: 612w for 2:03
Berg Ten Houte Peak 1-minute power: 727

I think it’s indicative and we haven’t even watched his data from the last hour.

The first break was about 50 km, on the penultimate pass of Oude Kwaremont. The champion of the “Tour de France” Tadeusz Pogachar went full throttle from the rise, going around the field without a wheel, except for the selected group of favorites. Surprisingly, van der Poel was not originally in the mix, and instead fell a few seconds behind Tom Podcock. Here we see one of the greatest efforts of the Dutchman in the whole race – and he was still a few seconds behind Pogachar.

The power file of Mathieu van der Poel, who accompanied Thaddeus Pogachar on Kwaremont during the 2022 Flanders Tour.

Van der Poel – the pursuit of Pogachar on Quarmont:
Time: 4:26
Average power: 525 W (7 W / kg)
Peak 3-minute power: 560 W (7.5 W / kg)

There was no peace for the weary, as the leading group – now consisting of about 20 horsemen – dived down to the next ascent to Paterberg. Again Pogachar took the front, and van der Poel stretched behind. Their strength is absolutely incredible.

Van der Poel followed Pogachar up Paterberg:
Time: 1:07
Average power: 688 W (9.2 W / kg)
Average gradient: 12.9 percent

The next series of climbs was Copenberg-Steenbeckie-Taenberg, where van der Poel continued to pick up the pace with Pogachar. The Slovene went here again, reducing the leading group to just three in van der Poel, Valentina Maduas and himself.

Mathieu van der Poel’s power map from a series of ascents to Copenberg during the 2022 Flanders Tour.

Kamba van der Poel – Copenberg-Steinbeckdis-Taaenberg:
Time: 13:03
Average power: 438 W (5.8 W / kg)
Normalized power: 486 W (6.5 W / kg)
Kapenberg: 628 W (8.4 W / kg) for 1:43

Van der Paul’s efforts at Copenberg are in themselves some of the best in the world, but the toughest efforts are still ahead. After 15km of turns for a replacement with more than 430 watts the leading group last hit Kwaremont, and Paterberg showed a few miles later as the last climb in the race. Pogachar knew that his chances against van der Poel in the sprint were small, and so he went to great lengths to overthrow the Dutchman.

Mathieu van der Poel’s powerful file hung on Pogachar’s wheel at Kwaremont during the 2022 Flanders Tour.

Van der Poel is hanging on Pogachar’s wheel at Quarmont:
Time: 3:43
Average power: 523 W (7 W / kg)
Peak 3-minute power: 546 W (7.3 W / kg)

Despite the incredible amount of fatigue that ran through Van der Paul’s legs after six hours of racing, he was able to make almost the same effort as before, hanging out with Pogachar again. Next was Paterberg and the last chance for the Slovene to throw out van der Poel; but he failed to do so, and the Tour of Flanders was about to be reduced to a sprint.

Van der Poel – Follow Pogachar up Paterberg (again):
Time: 1:12
Average power: 639 W (8.5 W / kg)

During the run-in at the finish line in Oudenard, it looked like Pogachar and van der Poel were calm. In fact, they had a healthy break from the group behind – Madouas and Dylan Van Baarl – but they were still pulling in the headwind ~ 400 watts. But when they entered the last kilometer, the game of cat and mouse began, and Pogachar sat down so as not to substitute van der Paul. Their 25-second forward evaporated at 700 meters. When Madouas and Van Baarle took the lead, van der Poel was ready to press on the gas, and 200 meters before it reached a peak power of 1406 watts.

Some say Pogachar got into boxing; though that’s true, I don’t think he had a chance. Van der Poel kept almost 1,400 watts (18.6 watts / kg) for 10 seconds on the way to the line, and you won’t get around that. The Dutchman hit the air after winning De Ronde for the second time in his career and fully announcing that his return is complete.

Mathieu van der Poel’s powerful file from the final of the 2022 Flanders Tour.

Van der Poel – the final of the Tour of Flanders:
Time: 2:23:20
Distance: 57.5 km
Average power: 368 W (4.9 W / kg)
Normalized power: 426 W (5.7 W / kg)
Final sprint strength: 1194 W (15.9 W / kg) in 13 seconds
Peak power: 1406 W (18.6 W / kg)

How long did Mathieu van der Poel keep the normalized power of 400 watts? Three hours and four minutes on the last 130 km of the Flanders Tour.

Mathieu van der Poel’s power map from the second half of the 2022 Flanders Tour.

Power analysis data provided Diet and Dietary sauce browser extension

Rider:Mathieu van der Paul

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