Giro d'Italia: Fernando Gaviria, André Greipel and Caleb Ewan compared
By Philipp Diegner , 15 May 2017
From left, André Greipel, Sam Bennett, Caleb Ewan and Fernando Gaviria in action at the Giro d'Italia (Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

The sprint spoils at the Giro d’Italia have so far been shared between Fernando Gaviria, Caleb Ewan and André Greipel.

Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won Stage 2, Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) triumphed on Stage 3 and Stage 5, and Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT) came out on top on Stage 7.

But who has been the best sprinter of the race so far, and why? Using data taken from our tracking devices, we investigate…

Stage 1

 

The opening day of the race was won by Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-hansgrohe) courtesy of a surprise late attack, with the bunch sprint behind for second place being won by Ewan. Greipel was third, while Gaviria was down in 12th.

Below are Ewan’s numbers from the sprint.

- Time: 17”.
- Average speed: 64.3km/h.
- Maximum speed: 70.9km/h, after 12”.
- Average power: 985W.
- Maximum power: 1484W, just before he hits top speed.

Ewan’s power in this sprint wasn’t as high as heavier sprinters such as Greipel can achieve, but he appears to have benefited from his unrivalled aerodynamic position in a final effort that was elongated by the desperate attempt to catch Pöstlberger.

Stage 2

André Greipel celebrates victory on Stage 2 (Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Greipel bounced back with a comfortable victory on day two, but Gaviria could only finish fourth and Ewan ninth.

Below are Greipel’s numbers.

- Maximum power: 1885W.
- Maximum speed: 68.8 km/h.

This shows Greipel claimed victory thanks to his ability to produce massive power. If he is in the right position, his strength makes him nearly unstoppable. 

His Lotto Soudal train delivered him ideally to the last 300m, and from there he just had to ride everyone else off his wheel in a straightforward win.

Stage 3

 

Gaviria claimed his first Grand Tour stage victory by forming part of a late breakaway and then beating Rüdiger Selig (Bora-hansgrohe) into second place and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) into third.

Ewan won the bunch sprint in the peloton for eighth place on the day, with Greipel following in 10th.

Below are Gaviria’s numbers from his sprint.

- Time: 20’’.
- Average speed: 55.0km/h.
- Maximum speed: 61.9km/h, after 12”.
- Average power: 834W.
- Maximum power: 1468W.

This sprint was a special case given that it was contested by only four riders. The average speed is low because a small group has much less momentum than a big peloton and strong winds were hitting the riders.

Gaviria is a relatively light sprinter and he showed his impressive ability to accelerate by putting out massive power for a couple of seconds to create an unbridgeable gap.

In comparison, Nizzolo produced a similar average power (837W), but his peak power was much lower and he wasn’t able to match Gaviria’s initial burst.

It showed that Gaviria is a very explosive sprinter who is dangerous coming of the wheel of others, whether that is a lead-out rider or a rival.

Stage 5

Fernando Gaviria claimed his second win on Stage 5 (Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Gaviria claimed his second win of the race by beating Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) into second and Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) into third. Greipel was fourth, but Ewan didn’t contest the sprint and was 23rd.

Below are the numbers produced by Gaviria and Bennett.

Gaviria
-
Time: 0’18’’.
- Average speed: 65.0km/h.
- Maximum speed: 67.8km/h.
- Average power: 934W.
- Maximum power: 1339W.

Bennett
- Time: 0’19’’.
- Average speed: 64.9km/h.
- Maximum speed: 68.1km/h.
- Average power: 965W.
- Maximum power: 1352W.

Bennett opened the sprint with 300m to go but peaked early, which allowed Gaviria to come around him and beat him to the line. Mareckzo jumped past Bennett as well. 

This shows the importance of timing. Bennett jumped too soon, whereas Gaviria waited and then used his explosiveness to come out of the Irishman’s slipstream, where he had been able to save a bit of energy for a few seconds. 

Stage 7

 

This sprint was played out on a narrow and twisting section of road to the finish line. Ewan started his sprint early and hung on to win in a photo finish from Gaviria in second place, Bennett in third and Greipel in fourth.

Technical issues meant we were unable to record Ewan and Greipel's data, but Gaviria and Bennett’s numbers are below.

Gaviria
Full sprint
- Time: 0’29’’.
- Average speed: 58.8km/h.
- Average power: 831W.
- Maximum power: 1318W. 
Last 150m from final corner
- Speed: 64.3km/h.
- Maximum speed: 68.5km/h.
- Average power: 1036W.

Bennett
Full sprint
- Time: 0’29’’.
- Average speed: 58.7km/h.
- Average power: 839W.
- Maximum power: 1237W) 
Last 150m from final corner
- Average speed: 63.9km/h.
- Maximum speed: 67.8km/h).
- Average power: 969W.

Gaviria this time relied less on his explosiveness and instead produced a steady effort of over 1000W in the last 150m. If he had been at the front going into the corner, it is unlikely that anyone would have beaten him. 

The conclusion we can take from this is that tactics and positioning beat power in a technical sprint, and in this case, ORICA-SCOTT's strategy paid off.

Conclusions

André Greipel, right, congratulates Fernando Gaviria on his Stage 5 win (Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

- Ewan, Greipel and Gaviria have all won for different reasons and in different ways. It is therefore difficult to say that one has been better than the others.

- Ewan’s combination of power and aerodynamics make him a danger in every sprint. His light weight means he is able to get over short climbs confidently as well. 

- Greipel is a pure power house who can produce huge watts and is hard to beat in a pure sprint.

- Gaviria is explosive and fast. If he is on your wheel with 200m to go, be afraid.

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