Michal Kwiatkowski’s performance on the Croix de Chaubouret was arguably the most significant of any on the race-changing fourth stage of this year’s Paris-Nice.
The world champion, resplendent in the rainbow stripes, rode seemingly unperturbed to the 1,200m summit, maintaining a steady tempo while attacks launched left and right.
Kwiatkowski is one of a growing number of elite professionals who share their data with the ride tracking service Strava.
The most cursory analysis shows that the world champion covered the 203km from Varennes-sur-Allier to the aforementioned summit of the Chaubouret in 5:21:23, just eight seconds behind the Sky duo of stage winner Richie Porte and second-placed Geraint Thomas. While this information is readily available to anyone prepared to read a results sheet, it is also arguably the most significant of all of the metrics available from Kwiatkowski’s ride.
His performances in the mountains to date might most optimistically be described as competent. That he lost only eight seconds to a specialist climber like Porte on a 10km climb is revealing of the world champion’s developing skills as on gradients. He might have been expected – by Team Sky, perhaps – to have suffered greater losses.
Further evidence for Kwiatkowski’s good condition can be found in his heart rate data: an average 135bpm, and a maximum of 189bpm. The average indicates a rider comfortable for most of the stage; indeed Kwiatkowski was well shielded by his Etixx-Quick-Step team-mates for much of the day, and Tony Martin paced him until 4km from the finish.
Strava Pro gives a breakdown in percentage terms of Kwiatkowski’s heart rate during the stage. At a first glance, six per cent of the ride at threshold seems moderate. More than 20 minutes ridden with his heart pounding at up to 192bpm makes a percentage analysis seem overly modest, however. Additionally, Kwitatkowski rode tempo for nearly an hour, which for him means a heart rate of between 154bpm and 173bpm.
Television images show Kwiatkoswki come to the front of a pursuing group with 1.5km to go, but when Porte motors across the gap to join Thomas, Jakob Fuglsang and Simon Spilak, the world champion can only watch. Unsurprisingly, Strava Pro’s graph analysis of the stage records the world champion’s peak heart rate (189bpm) within metres of the finish line. He hits 186bpm as the gradient ratchets up to 10.3 per cent with 600m remaining.
Kwiatkoswki’s average cadence is 90rpm: widely regarded as an optimum. His peak revolutions (166rpm) suggest somewhat greater alacrity, and likely to have been recorded on any of the numerous descents in a stage littered with eight climbs.
However great Kwiatkowski’s suffering, it was worth it. The Pole regained the yellow jersey on stage four, courtesy of a single second advantage over stage winner Porte.