Tony Martin’s solo break in the Vuelta

No, seriously. I don’t think you’re quite getting how great a ride this was. That man at the front, in the light blue jersey, gob hanging open, white socks pulled right up – do you realise how much effort he put in? Tony Martin rode 175km on his own and almost beat the entire peloton.

Effort

Riding in the peloton is a piece of piss. On stage three, the winner, Chris Horner, averaged 200 watts for 4h30m. He just sat there behind everyone else, chilling out and only put in about seven minutes of actual effort right at the end.

Today, the peloton as a whole was expected to move at about 44kph. Tony Martin, on his own, caused the race to finish early. That is beyond ridiculous. If you’ve ever timed yourself on a bike, you’ll know how much extra effort it takes to add 1kph to your average speed. More than that, the quicker you’re going, the more effort it takes because wind resistance increases exponentially.

Power calculators are imprecise, but even using the most conservative figures, it seems like it takes at least 400 watts to maintain a speed of 44kph. Tony Martin literally put in double the effort of the stage three winner.

How does that feel?

Effort isn’t actually the right word, because it implies you can will it to happen. If you or I managed to produce 400 watts of power on a bike, we would be done in roughly two minutes. Tony Martin managed it for four hours.

“I went on fighting without really thinking about my chances. Up until the last few kilometres I didn’t think I could win. When there were ten kilometres left to go, I thought, ‘right, time to give it a bit more power’ and it seemed like I might win.”

‘Time to give it a bit more power,’ he thought. It doesn’t really bear thinking about.