In two weeks, Mathieu van der Poel has won two World Cups. Both Short Track XCC events, and both as a result of stunning displays of power. One a sprint, one an early race attack, but both requiring otherworldly wattage.
How many watts, exactly, did it take to pass Tom Pidcock in the dying metres of Friday’s Short Track XCC? Well, van der Poel’s shared his power data on Strava. We’re digging into the numbers to find out, and to compare his to two victories.
Nove Mesto vs. Albstadt
We saw huge wattage from the Dutch rider when he won Strade Bianche back in March. Mountain biking is a little different, obviously, but the power numbers from van der Poel’s first two World Cup wins of 2021 are still incredible to dig into.
Unlike Strade Bianchi’s 4 hr 45 minute slog, the Short Track XCC races are just 20 minutes long and are full gas from start gun to the finish. Short laps see riders fighting for position on steep climbs before trying to recover on quick descents and starting back uphill again.
Still, there’s differences between courses. While the same rider won both Short Track World Cups, the races didn’t look at all alike.
In Albstadt, van der Poel attacked early, putting the field on notice. Then pushed the pace for much of the final two laps. The wide open course meant riders were always on the gas fighting for position, and always on the gas.
In Nove Mesto, new narrow and technical sections meant the race was much more strategic. Long, fast sections between singletrack choke points meant that group riding was more efficient on the paved sections while positioning was important entering the woods. This led to an all-out drag race between Pidcock and van der Poel to the line.
Interestingly, between the steadily hard effort of Germany and a single, massive sprint in Czech, van der Poel had the same weighted average power, at exactly 413 watts for 20 min. His heart rate was also consistent, at 174 bpm average in Albstadt and 173 in Czech Republic.
In Albstadt, the wide-open course meant 23 separate surges over 1,000 watts, 10 of which were in excess of 1,200 watts. Or approximately one thousand-watt burst every minute. In that race, van der Poel attacked on the second lap, sat up, then attacked again for most of the last two laps on his way to victory.
That second lap attack? A casual 1,267 watts, uphill, just three minutes into the race. That’s after another 1,200-plus watts off the line at the start.
On the final lap alone, van der Poel pushed passed 1,000 watts on four separate sections of track, maxing out at 1,314 w. To get that effort, his HR sat at 181 bpm for the last five minutes of racing.
Nove Mesto – Short Track showdown
Nove Mesto, in contrast, was a much more strategic Short Track race. After the start sprint, van der Poel attacked much less in the opening laps and. When he was on the front, he tried to control the pace much more. Strategic racing still saw the Alpecin-Fenix rider push the needle past 1,000 watts 10 times in 20 minutes.
With Tom Pidcock pushing him to the finish line, van der Poel’s most impressive numbers are on the final lap.
In the final sprint, van der Poel averaged 1,063 w for the 200 m drag race to the line. That includes a huge spike up to 1,360 max watts to surge passed Pidcock.
That is after averaging 800 w, with a max of 1,153 w for another 30 seconds earlier in the lap to get up the 7.4 per cent average grade climb in good position.
How fast were they going? Mountain bikes are slower than road bikes, but the final 200m averaged an incredible 50.3 km/h, maxing out at 53.3 km/h. On mountain bikes, after 20 min of racing. When you add in the jumps and singletrack descent into Nove Mesto’s stadium, the average speed barely goes down. The duo averaged over 40 km/h to end the race.
All of this, while the Alpecin-Fenix rider is saying he doesn’t have the best legs right now. If this isn’t 100 per cent, we can’t wait to see what van der Poel does in Tokyo.