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The stats: What does it take to be in a Tour de France mountain breakaway?

Joe Robinson
18 Jul 2018

We take a look at Rein Taaramae's Strava post to see what is needed to be in a winning break at the Tour

Julian Alaphilippe, Greg Van Avermaet, Ion Izagirre, Serge Pauwels, Lilian Calmejane and Rein Taaramae all did something that happens few and far between at the Tour de France. They were part of a breakaway that managed to stay away from the bunch and win the stage.

Eventually it was Quick-Step Floors's Alaphilippe who took the honours after surging clear on the penultimate descent of the day, eventually crossing the line 1 minute 34 seconds ahead of his closest rival Izagirre. 

Six riders stayed away from the group of General Classification favourites all day despite racing over five classified climbs, including the first four mountain passes of this year's race.

Quite the feat when you consider the peloton of favourites behind were setting climbing records across some of the ascents faced.

To see just how much it takes to be part of a successful breakaway, look no further than the Strava file of Taaramae, the Estonian climber from Direct Energie.

Eventually, Taaramae finished third on the stage, losing a sprint with Izagirre, but spent most of the day in the lead with Alaphilippe.

Firstly, Taaramae's file shows us that he had to average a speed of 35.1kmh for 4 hours 50 minutes over 3,772m of vertical gain in order to stay away from the pack.

For reference, this was 0.3kmh faster than Steve Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) who finished almost two minutes adrift in the bunch of GC favourites.

Unsurprisingly, Taaramae set the fifth quickest Strava King of the Mountain time on the Col de Bluffy. This was the climb in which the break really began to establish their lead with Taaramae averaging 27.8kmh on the 1.6km, 6% slope, some 20 seconds quicker than those behind.

As the day wore on, and the break passed over the multiple mountains, Taaramae managed to sustain a tough tempo throughout the stage leading him to an average wattage of 272w over 4 hours 50 minutes. 

The Estonian attacked on the Col de Romme, hunting the stage win, taking only eventual stage winner Alaphilippe with him. In this 29 minute ascent, Taaramae kept 375w with a max of 763w, giving an average speed of 18kmh on the 9% slopes of the Romme. 

What makes this more impressive it that, despite a full day in the break, Taaramae matched the climbing speed of the group of favourites.

Eventually, the Direct Energie rider was dropped by Alaphilippe on the descent of the Romme, never managing to reattach, being eventually caught by Bahrain-Merida's Izagirre. 

Taaramae was dropped despite averaging 60kmh down the climb, maxing out at 74.5kmh, testament to Alaphilippe's ability to descend and his aggressive approach to winning the stage.

The descent of the Romme also proved that whatever men can do women can do as equally well, and in this case better. Earlier that day, Lucinda Brand also set a time on the descent of the Col de Romme while racing La Course.

Brand averaged 62.1kmh maxing out at 77.8kmh - both speeds quicker than Taaramae - making her the second fastest person ever to descend the Romme on Strava.

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