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Vuelta a Espana 2002

30 Sep 2002

The clash of mega-rivals Roberto Heras and Aitor Gonzales was spectacular, impassioned, surprising: 
But let me play with the numbers…

Alto de la Pandera: the last 7 kms, an incline of 680 meters.
Time: 21'40"
VAM*: 1880 m/h

Time: 22'28"
VAM*: 1829 m/h

Gonzales has a VAM that is 2.7% less than Heras’s.

Alto de Angliru: last 7 kms, an incline of 875 meters.
Time: 28'00"
VAM: 1875 m/h

Time: 30'16"
VAM: 1735 m/h

Gonzales’s VAM is inferior by 8%.

Alto de Covadilla: last 9.5 kms, an incline of 760 m.
Time: 24'01"
VAM: 1900 m/h

Time: 24'38"
VAM: 1853 m/h

Gonzales’s VAM is less than 2.5%.

As we can see, in the most challenging Vuelta 2002 climbs, Roberto Heras’s VAM turned out to be, on average, 4.4% higher than his rival’s.
It is important to note that the combination “Gonzales plus Bike” is equal to about 74 kilos, while the combination “Heras plus Bike” comes to about 66 kilos, or 11% less than for Gonzales.

Since the riders climbing effort is represented essentially by the weight involved, Aitor G. put out an average absolute power of 6.6% greater than Roberto H’s (11%-4.4%=6.6%).
We find approximately the same difference in power in the Cordoba time trial (36.5 km.): 
Time: 47'06" 
Km/h: 46.49 
V2: 2161

Time: 45'32"
Km/h: 48.09 
V2: 2312

The difference in V2 between Gonzales and Heras was about 6.9%.
But in the final Madrid time trial (41 km), Gonzales’s superiority was even greater, reaching about 14.5%:
Time: 51'16" 
Km/h: 48.20
V2: 2323

Time: 47'54"
Km/h: 51.60
V2: 2662

Note: average speeds in time trials were squared (V2) because on the flat the power put out by the cyclist is expressed in relation to the square of the velocity. 
*VAM = Average Ascent Speed

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