While the Giro d’Italia is receiving the most attention, the Tour of Norway stage 3 did not disappoint at all, with Remco Evenepoel doing an unbelievable climbing performance on the queen stage that ended with the steep Gaustatoppen-Stavsro climb (10.5 km, 8.7%).
Nuclear Watts In Norway
The pace on the 10 kilometre-long climb was high already from the bottom, thanks to EF-Education Pro Cycling. James Shaw did a great job, thinning down the group and working for Esteban Chaves even after working during the middle of the stage chasing INEOS who had created a split in crosswinds. Jay Vine attacked with 8 kilometres to go and increased the tempo. Footage below courtesy of Velon.
Very rarely one of the big favourites attacks so early, but the sections were around 10% steep, so the draft did not matter that much. Vine was caught and with 7 km to go Evenepoel started to drill as hard as possible, dropping Chaves then race leader Johannessen off his wheel.
As Evenepoel said in the interview afterwards, the presence of a tailwind made his attakcs more difficult for the others to follow, and when he attacked with just under 5 kilometres remaining, no one could follow.
Evenepoel soloed to the finish, doing an insane 6.50 w/kg for 30 minutes and 23 seconds, which is easily the best climbing performance of 2022.
Jay Vine lost on the climb 26 seconds to Evenepoel, doing 6.34 w/kg for 30:49. Also an incredibly high climbing level. In the second part of the climb, when Evenepoel started pacing and went solo, he did 6.85 w/kg for 15 minutes.
Strava data from Jay Vine is a confirmation that this was an incredible performance. Vine did 435 watts for little over 30 minutes, which is 6.30 w/kg. We assume his weight is around 69 kilograms. All the w/kg estimations are done with 60 kg etalon weight because a heavier rider like Vine with the same w/kg will be faster on a climb than for example, 55 kg Juan Pedro Lopez.
Best Remco Climbing Performance
Without a surprise, this is by far the best climbing performance by Remco Evenepoel. It is easy to forget that he is only 22-year-old, younger than last year’s Tour de l’Avenir winner Tobias Johannessen from whom he took the leader’s jersey today.
His reported weight at the start of the season in Algarve and Valenciana was 66.5 kg, in Basque Country it was around 64 kg, and it looks like after the Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory he has shed even more kilograms to improve his climbing ability. This would explain why finally he did not struggle on the steep gradients like he did early this season in Basque Country, Valenciana and Algarve.
The previous best pure w/kg performance by Evenepoel was surprisingly in the 2019 Tour of Turkey. Also on this day Evenepoel attacked early, but was caught by Conti, Kudus and Grossschartner and finished 4th. The stage before was not hard and it was a good w/kg test for at that time 19-year-old Remco.
It is logical that during these 3 years he would progress, despite crashing hard in 2020 Il Lombardia and falling off the bridge, which could have also ended his career. He came back in Giro d’Italia 2021 but it was too early, which influenced his entire 2021 season. Finally, in 2022 he has gained more experience on climbs and probably found his perfect weight, which is the reason why we saw this nuclear performance in Norway.
Many riders broke their power personal bests for 20 and 30 minutes on Tour of Norway Stage 3. Probably those who lost close to two minutes such as Brenner and Sheffield.
Whilst the temperature was perfect for high performances, the stage before the climb was not easy. The riders needed to do 12.43 kj/kg/h for 4 hours and 13 seconds, which is a medium tempo and in the middle of the stage to be in the first echelon, Jay Vine needed to push 371 watts (5.38 w/kg) for over 30 minutes when INEOS attacked.
Slovenians, Remco is Coming
The next Grand Tour Evenepoel will race is planned to be Vuelta a Espana, where we might to see both Slovenians. If Evenepoel can bring Tour of Norway legs to Spain then it must be an exciting battle. Evenepoel is one of the most aero riders ever and the shallow 6-7% gradients on long climbs in the parcours of the Vuelta a Espana 2022 are perfect for him.
What must be a surprise to many, is that compared to the best Pogačar climbing performances, Evenepoel did a better in Tour of Norway stage 3, although it was not super difficult before the climb.