How on Earth did Jonas do that TT?

The 2023 Tour de France stage 16 time trial has proven somewhat of a talking point. We have tried to make sense of the numbers, as at first, they seemed interesting. Essentially, we (Tom) vastly underestimated how fast Jonas would go in this TT but, with a couple of fresh assumptions, we can come up with some good (but not alien-like) numbers for the TT performance that the small Dane managed.

Jonas Vingegaard Time Trial - Tour de France 2023 (cropped)

Where was the time gained?

During the short time trial, Vingegaard managed to gain 1 minute and 38 seconds over the Slovenian Pogacar. The TT finished with an ascent of the Côte de Domancy (6.05 km, 6.84%) after a rolling course in the earlier part. Notably, Jonas Vingegaard delivered a truly historic performance, outshining even Pogačar on the 22.4 km route by an impressive 1 minute and 38 seconds, while leaving all other competitors behind by a margin of at least 2 minutes and 51 seconds. Our, and others who have also done this, calculations reveal that Vingegaard achieved a remarkable 7.60 W/Kg for a time of 13 minutes and 21 seconds. This would undoubtedly rank among the greatest performances of all time. 

Pogacar lost 77s over the course of the climb, which does include a bike change.

This plot shows how the time gap opened up minute by minute, where each data point shows the rider’s time split at each checkpoint. You can see, from the shading, that the time gap opened up much wider between checkpoint 3 and the finish than at any other point. This shows, as 79% of the time lost occurred in this sector.

The climb – Côte de Domancy

This plot, borrowed from Lanterne Rouge, shows the climbing performances of 2023 with the TT climb shown in red, Vingegaard is the red dot that appears furthest up the y-axis where it can be shown to what extent he outperformed all the other riders that day. Vingegaard must have done roughly 7.6W/kg for 13 minutes and 21 seconds up this climb according to these (and ours roughly match) calculations. This climbing performance is the best so far this year in the World Tour by some margin.

A myWindsock model of the performance

The nice thing about doing a simulation after an event has taken place is that you know the answer and your weather data is correct. We can see that Jonas had extremely favourable conditions and managed to fiddle with the settings to achieve a fairly realistic average power and cda based on what we know about the climb and the time gaps.

It was clear that Jonas’ strategy was a simple one, rail descents, ride the flat sections at a reasonable tempo and absolutely whack the last climb as hard as possible.

Inputting the power to weight estimates done as a lap on the last climb and setting the climbing pace to roughly this, we get the above power profile for Jonas’ TT. We would love for Jumbo to publish the data so we can see how our estimate stacks up! myWindsock premium features really come into their own for races like this.

The conditions

Vingegaard clearly had favourable conditions, shown with our Instagram story analysis of wImpact during the course of the day. This plot shows how Wout Van Aert’s time would have changed had he started at different points during the course of the day. This said, it’s only worth a small fraction of the time difference.

The settings we used for Jonas

We asked Ineos Grenadiers’ Dan Bigham about some realistic numbers for CRR and drivetrain resistance and, with a few caveats used the settings below as a rough estimate. In reality, especially with a course such as this one where speeds, gearing and cadence change so drastically these values vary with time but for our purpose today average values over the course of the TT will suffice.

Assuming an extremely optimised aerodynamic position and the ability to hold this almost perfectly coupled with the fact that Vingegaard is a small man these are the cda values we used. The climbing power was set from W/kg estimates and the other values were changed to fit the recorded time. It’s possible he was less aerodynamic and produced more power in the flats or descents. It’s tough to tell of course but these values produce a 30 minute average close to the peak 30 minute power shown by Vingegaard this tour in terms of W/kg.
By reducing rolling resistance to 0.003 and drivetrain losses to 2% we were able to further shave time from Jonas’ performance. The base assumption we have used, implementing myWindsock’s advanced options to do so, is that Vingegaard’s bike was perfectly optimised.

This was an extremely good ride from Vingegaard and he must have had to produce close to his peak average power for that duration in the time trial position. Something that is possible with incredible dedication to time trialing – something we know he has worked on extremely hard. From our analysis, it seems Vingegaard had a perfect day, on a perfect bike with perfect conditions and produced an other-worldly performance on that final climb. Given how aerodynamic it’s possible for a rider of that size to be and how well he descended, it’s possible he came into the base of the final climb relatively fresh. It would be interesting if Jumbo would publish his power files, as seeing how he paced this would certainly help us when predicting future performances.

If you’d like to bring a new level of analysis to your time trial performances, check out myWindsock here.