Fleche Wallonne 2011
The dominance of Philippe Gilbert on the Muur de Huy was pretty clear: at the finish of a tactically perfect race, the Belgian champion rode the last Km (112m of climbing) in 2’40”, with a VAM of 2520m/h, corresponding to about 570w, assuming a body weight of 68 Kg.
An excellent performance, but quite far from the one supposed by Eugenio Capodacqua (800 average watts): after all, the good Capodacqua is one prone to exaggerating...
This time on the last Km is the fastest ever: the previous "record" was 2'44" (Rebellin in 2007).
Joachim Rodriguez, Samuel Sanchez and Alexandre Vinokurov were not so far behind though:
Rodriguez - 2’43”; 2473m/h; 58kg; 478w average
Sanchez - 2’45”; 2443m/h; 62kg; 505w average
Vinokourov - 2’46”; 2428m/h; 71kg; 574w average
As we can see, the difference in performance between the winner and the second placed rider is 1.9%, while Vino (4th at the finish) produced an effort 3.7% inferior to Gilbert's.
Truly Gilbert gave the impression of clear superiority over his rivals, easing on the pedals quite far away from the finish line; probably the peak of power expressed at the moment of his attack exceeded 1000w, but such flaming accelerations have always been his best feat.
Whereas in the recent past he was used to produce 3-4 of such accelerations in the course of a race, he seems to have understood that it is better to shoot only 1 of them, the decisive one close to the finish (see Amstel Gold Race).
After all, if more than 100 riders get together at the beginning of the last km climb in Huy, it means that the race was not that selective and tough for riders drafting in the peloton: all this played in favor of Gilbert.
How far behind is the 3'02" of Moreno Argentin in his 1990 victory?
Analyzing Moreno's VAM (2215m/h) it seems that the difference is 13.7% in favor of the Belgian, but we have to keep in mind that back in 1990 the steel bikes were weighing about 10kg, versus the 6.8kg of today, and the wheels were radically different too.
Moreover, these classic events were much more selective and demanding in those days, resulting in just a few riders contending the final ramp and after having spent heaps of precious energy in the previous ascents.