How do professionals Fernando Gaviria and Andrey Amador compare with amateurs?
Fernando Gaviria, centre, in action on Stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia (Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

In recent data analysis articles we have looked at how amateurs compare with the fastest professional climbers - and predictably found the difference to be huge.

But how do amateurs compare with some of the back-markers in the pro peloton, when races hit the mountains?

To find out, we analysed the performances of sprinter Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) on Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia and domestique Andrey Amador (Movistar Team) on Stage 19 at the same race.

Comparing any riders on climbs can be tricky - varying weights require different power outputs to achieve the same result. For simplicity, we have looked at amateurs weighing from 65-75kg.

More data analysis

FERNANDO GAVIRIA vs. AMATEURS

Sprinters like Gaviria are dropped by the peloton on mountain stages, and form what is known as the grupetto. Although not they are not vying for the stage win, the grupetto must ride hard in order to finish inside the day’s time limit.

Stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia included a category-two climb to Portella Femmina Morta and then a category-one climb to the summit finish on Mount Etna.

Gaviria managed to stay in the peloton over the Portella Femmina Morta and didn’t even need to go above his threshold. He tackled the 29.5km ascent in 1h11’41” at a speed of 24.7km/h and an average power of 304 watts.

However, Gaviria was dropped early in the 17.9km ascent to Mount Etna and quickly formed part of the grupetto

Here is how he performed in the first 5km of the climb, and how three levels of amateurs would do on the same section.

The very best amateurs would be capable of not only staying with the sprinters in the grupetto but riding away from them at as much as 5km/h faster. However, this is with the amateurs being fresh, and the pros being fatigued from a long mountain stage.

High quality amateurs would also hold their own in the grupetto, but average amateurs would be dropped.

ANDREY AMADOR vs. AMATEURS

Amador is a better climber than Gaviria and even led the 2016 Giro for a day, but he was working as a domestique for Nairo Quintana in the 2017 race and was tired by Stage 19, which contained three categorised climbs, including a category-one summit finish at Piancavallo.

On the second climb, to Sella Chianzutan, which is 11.2km long and averages 5.5 per cent gradient, Amador was by Quintana’s side in the peloton and produced impressive power numbers.

Despite being so deep into the race, he was still four and a half minutes faster than even an excellent amateur and 17 minutes quicker than an average amateur.

But by the time the race reached the final climb to Piancavallo, Amador had been dropped by the lead group and slowed considerably, partly due to fatigue and partly because he was no longer having to race at his maximum output. In fact, he would most likely have been told to slow down by his sports director to preserve energy for the next day. 

In this instance he would be overtaken by both excellent and good amateurs, although he would still be well ahead of the average amateur rider.

CONCLUSIONS

At the start of a stage, even the slowest professional climbers would still be too fast for the very best amateurs.

But the tables turn as the day wears on. The back markers are now fatigued and slow down considerably, and it’s likely the best amateurs would be able to ride away on climbs, albeit only when fresh.

If the amateurs also had three weeks of racing and 200km that day in the legs, the gap between pros and amateurs would open up once more.

Keep reading