The "official" climbs is 13.8 km long according to Wikipedia, and gains 1099 meters according to Strava, an average grade of 7.96% (the GPS recorded distance depends on trajectory through the switchbacks, for example, and in any case GPS isn't that accurate on distance along curvy routes). It was climbed during the Tour de France stage 19 this year.
The climb was complicated by riders arriving at the start in small groups. Timing thus needed to consider the finishing time, well documented by the race, but also the starting time. According to Wikipedia:
Since 1999 photo-finish has been used from 14 km. Other times have been taken 13.8 km from the summit, which is the start of the climb. Others have been taken from the junction 700m from the start.
The following times were posted as "official" by the Inner Ring on Twitter:
I assume these are from the camera Wikipedia says is 14 km from the finish.
The Science of Sports Blog claims the following:
In terms of the historical context of the 2011 performances, the overall time for Contador was 41:30. Sammy Sanchez was the fastest of the day in 41:21, while Pierre Rolland, first to summit, did it in 41:52 because he started the climb with a 51 second lead (bear in mind small errors in timing off the TV).
He initiated timing at "the start banner of the climb".
The "official" times had Sanchez 41'45", Contador 41'54", and Rolland 42'22". These times lag Science of Sports' by 24", 24", and 30". If as I assume the difference is due to a 200 meter difference in start location than this corresponds to Contador and Rolland riding at 30 kph and Rolland at 24 kph, to crude precision.
So to convert the "official" times to the times for 13.8 km "chrono", I assume all riders other than Rolland rode the 200 meters at the same rate as Contador and Sanchez, taking 24 seconds. Perhaps this is optimistic for the 200 meters in many cases, but that makes it somewhat pessimistic for the time over the climb itself. However, assigning pack times to individuals, as is done here for both the start and finish of the climb, adds several seconds of error, so I would put all times here with ±5 second error bars.
So here's the results: I show rider, time, and VAM. I also calculated an estimated W/kg, but as I've described before, there's plenty of potential errors in such estimates, especially when riders draft each other. Jonathan Vaughters tweeted 5.4 W/kg for Tom Danielson, very close to my still air estimate of 5.51 W/kg, but then I read a claim this was revised to 5.7 W/kg, so take all that for what it's worth. My calculation has Sanchez at 5.67 W/kg, with numerous assumptions.
rider min VAM Samuel_Sanchez 41.35 1594.7 Alberto_Contador 41.50 1588.9 Pierre_Rolland 41.87 1575.0 Cadel_Evans 42.07 1567.5 Damiano_Cunego 42.07 1567.5 Andy_Schleck 42.07 1567.5 Frank_Schleck 42.07 1567.5 Peter_Velits 42.07 1567.5 Thomas_de_Gendt 42.07 1567.5 Tom_Danielson 42.37 1556.4 Jean-Christophe_Peraud 42.57 1549.1 Hubert_Dupont 43.22 1525.8 Rein_Taaramae 43.22 1525.8 Ryder_Hesjedal 43.22 1525.8 Ivan_Basso 43.22 1525.8 Levi_Leipheimer 43.22 1525.8 Jerome_Coppel 43.63 1511.2 Kevin_De_Weert 43.88 1502.6 Rob_Ruijgh 44.18 1492.4 Thomas_Voeckler 44.48 1482.4 Christian_Vandevelde 44.48 1482.4 Yury_Trofimov 44.48 1482.4 Arnold_Jeannesson 44.50 1481.8 Robert_Gesink 44.63 1477.4 Carlos_Barredo 44.68 1475.7 Blel_Kadri 44.90 1468.6 Remy_Di_Gregorio 45.55 1447.6 J_Blazquez_Hernandez 45.98 1434.0 Haimar_Zubeldia 46.12 1429.9 Richie_Port 46.38 1421.6 Chirs_Anker_Sorensen 46.38 1421.6 Sebastien_Minard 46.43 1420.1 Bauke_Mollema 46.43 1420.1 Christian_Knees 46.43 1420.1 Niki_Terpstra 46.72 1411.5 David_Loosli 46.80 1409.0 Egoi_Martinez 46.93 1405.0 Sandy_Cesar 46.93 1405.0 Gianni_Meersman 46.93 1405.0 Jakob_Fugelsang 46.93 1405.0 Jonathan_Hivert 47.90 1376.6 Jeremy_Roy 47.95 1375.2If you told me a few years ago you could win the Tour with a 1570 VAM up L'Alpe d'Huez I'd have laughed at you. Sure, maybe in the Lemond-Indurain era, but not since the age of Armstrong, who revolutionized pro cycling by previewing climbs, training in the rain, and drinking Michelob Lite.
Quick plot of these results:
For perspective, the Strava KOM is 48.75 minutes, a VAM of 1353. Even in this kindler and gentler era, the pros humble us poor weekend warriors even after having climbed the brutal Telegraph and Galabier in week 3 of a grand tour. But this is expected: it's what they do, they're probing the limits of human ability. And maybe, just maybe, they're no longer exceeding them.