Lorena Wiebes’ watts: What does it take to win a Tour de France Femmes bunch sprint?

The numbers behind the SD Worx rider’s winning effort

Lorena Wiebes has been the dominant sprinter in the women’s peloton for the last two seasons – when the Dutchwoman gets a sniff at the finish line from the bunch, she’s almost certain to reach it first. Wiebes is known for her strong, punchy acceleration and her ability to sprint even after a hard race. She’s proven her supremacy once again at the recent Tour de France Femmes when she won the bunch kick by a promising margin ahead of Marianne Vos on stage three, helped by a stellar lead-out from yellow jersey wearer Lotte Kopecky. 

In modern cycling, power numbers are at the heart of everything most riders do. They shape how fast they ride in training, are a gauge to show how well a rider is going in at a particular point in the season and they have the ability to boost or bring down morale. In racing, power numbers don’t always give a clear picture of how hard or easy a stage has been, however, as the ebb and flow of the peloton means that riders rarely can hold their power as consistently as they do when riding solo on a structured ride. For the mere mortals among us, though, getting a glimpse into the watts the professional riders put out as they race offers a window into life in the WorldTour peloton and we can see how close – or how far off – we are from keeping up with the best.

According to a post on Instagram by Training Peaks, Lorena Wiebes hit a maximum power of 1090 watts to cross the line first in stage two of the Tour de France Femmes. She likely produced this in the final approach to the line when she began her sprint off the back of Kopecky’s back wheel. Interestingly, this was far off the 1211 watts that Wiebes produced in last year’s Tour when she won the opening stage on the Champs-Élysées. It’s worth noting that the stage Wiebes won this year was longer and more challenging than the two-hour stage in Paris in 2022, and she arguably had a clearer run at the line this year when she came off Kopecky’s wheel, meaning she needed to do less to win. In addition, Wiebes has said this year that she has focused on becoming a better climber to improve her performance in the hilly Classics, which could mean a small reduction in power. 

Wiebes produced an impressive 20 second power on the way to her victory too, recording an average of 716 watts during the final throes of the sprint when she catapulted herself off Kopecky’s wheel. Over one minute, Wiebes was able to produce 439 watts in the sprint, an impressive feat considering she only weighs 60 kilograms according to her ProCyclingStats. Perhaps a little less impressive are the SD Worx rider’s watts across the entire stage which were 158 watts on average for the four hour stage, but this should be considered with the time that Wiebes would have spent descending or coasting in the bunch in mind. In addition, a trait of a talented sprinter is the ability to hide in the peloton using as little energy as possible, so a low average power throughout the stage should be considered as clever, conservative riding from the Dutchwoman.

Power numbers and watts are one thing, but it takes far more than numbers to win bunch sprints at the highest level. The skill to navigate through a speeding and precarious peloton are crucial, as well as the knowledge of when it is the right time to launch an effort. Wiebes is one rider who seems to have it all figured out.

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