After seeing how much it takes to win a Flanders or get very close to it, we see the dynamics of a wingman’s performance in a classic monument. How much do the men spend keeping their captains out of the wind for the first few hours? Still having to deal with the dry and steep Flemish tears?
Let’s see the data of one of the best known wingmen who carry out this task, the “El Tractor” Tim Declercq, 32 year old Belgian, 190cm by 78kg, in the service of the winning team of Flanders 2021, the Deceunick-QuickStep. Declercq did not finish the race due to a fall, but he still covered 193km in 4h41 ′ before retiring.
The Belgian’s average speed was 41.7km / h, just 0.2km / h less than Mathieu van der Poel, who finished 2nd. The average power is higher: 274w against MvdP’s 270w, but Declercq is slightly heavier, so in terms of w / kg the output can be considered almost identical. Same goes for the slightly lower weighted average power (NP) with 321w versus 328w of the Dutch. The peak power is very different: 1139w versus 1470w, but Declerq clearly doesn’t even need to sprint. Overall a Intensity Factor 80% versus 82%.
If you look at the distribution over time, you can see how in the first 2h13 ‘of the race the average power of MvdP was 200w for an average speed of 40.2km / h, while that of Declercq 213w for an average of 40.8km / h. A sign that the race went off quite “smoothly” in the first 2h.
The following 2h15 ‘had a different development, in particular for the wingmen, who had to position their captains at the head of the group.
The average rose to 43km / h (42.8km / h for MvdP) and the average power to 331w for Declercq against 278w for MvdP. Higher the peak of the Dutch: 1257w against 1108w.
In the remaining 20 ‘of the race before the Belgian crashed and was forced to retire, the data are very similar, with an average speed slightly down, perhaps a sign of an interlocutory moment in the race.
Van der Poel’s follower was Gianni Vermeersch, his partner at Alpecin-Fenix. Which finished with an excellent 7th place in the standings. Even for him the data is quite in line, with an average 246w, 295w NP. It should be considered that the Belgian of Alpecin is given as decidedly lighter than the other two considered, with 65kg against the 75kg of his teammate and 78kg of Declercq.
The distribution of cardiac stress between Vermeersch and MvdP is also very similar.