Gent-Wevelgem was without a doubt one of the most exciting days of racing the young 2019 season has delivered. Crosswinds battered the peloton early on allowing a high powered lead group to form. The sustained pace throughout the day was simply brutal. When Alexandre Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) crossed the finish line, the race’s average speed was at an astonishing 46.27 km/h. It was a hard day in the saddle.

31-03-2019 Gent - Wevelgem; 2019, Uae - Emirates; Kristoff, Alexander; Monte Kemmel;

Kristoff earned the victory with an immensely taxing day on the bike. Over the 5 hours and 26 minutes it took the winner to cover the courses 251 km, he averaged a leg-numbing 345 w. Listed at 78 kg on his team’s website, that would mean the Norwegian held 4.4 w/kg for the duration of the course. To make the effort all the more unbelievable, following that sustained effort he was still able to produce an absolute world-class sprint with a peak power of 1,432 w in a sprint that lasted 17 seconds during which he averaged 1,094 w.

The 2015 Milan-San Remo and Flanders champion was able to ride the wheels in the early going thanks to his teammate Fernando Gaviria being up the road in the move that contained Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Jan Willem van Schip (Roompot-Charles), Luke Rowe (Team Sky), Cees Bol (Team Sunweb), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep) along with Peter Sagan, Pascal Ackermann and Rüdiger Selig of Bora-Hansgrohe, and Lotto-Jumbo’s Wout van Aert, Maarten Wynants, Mike Teunissen, Taco van der Hoorn and Danny van Poppel.

Sagan produced a strong effort averaging 310 w for the first 200 km of the race. Other incredible numbers from the rade include the 637 w van Aert produced on the first ascent of the Kemmelberg’s main 300 m section. Over the same section on the final lap when Zdenek Stybar tried to make the race explode, he averaged 630 w peaking at 1,03o w.

While he was comfortable in the peloton, Kristoff knew from last year he wanted to get up the decisive final climbs of the Baneberg and Kemmelberg head of the peloton fearing he could be distanced in the explosive effort up the final ascents of the race. The tactic worked to perfection for Kristoff when the race inevitably exploded when Stybar put in that strong effort. Kristoff’s attack would have cost precious energy and undoubtedly raised his average power for the day.

Back in the peloton, Oliver Naesen who would go on to finish third had a very hard day as well averaging 287 w according to his ride on Strava. The Belgian, who was also second at Milan-San Remo this season, isn’t as powerful of a sprinter as Kristoff putting out a sprint that maxed out at 1,112 w and averaged 858 w over 20 s.

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