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SlowRower



Joined: 22 Nov 2006
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Location: 62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fontfroide wrote:
SlowRower wrote:
I can't get away from my favourite point, namely that there are many factors that underlie performance levels, training regime being but one of them.


I totally agree.


The problem from your French related analysis, though, is trying to quantify the impact of each factor.

In basic terms, natural talent is most important. Irrespective of the dope, you need a rider with certain minimal physical attributes to win the TDF and it's harder to get these characteristics than it is to get the dope, as you can't buy genetic superiority.

But at pro level, all riders are very talented, and the impact of relatively small differences in natural talent are hard to split out from differences in training, team structure, tactics etc. From most other sports, though, differences in training make the difference between being a serious contender and winning, not the difference between, say top 50 and major championship winner, so I'd be surprised if dodgy French training methods are the main reason for their underperformance relative to the Spanish. (But it's not impossible - French road training may be institutionally absolutely cr*p.)

Likewise, whilst getting an expert's top doping regime gives you a vast advantage over those on the cheap and cheerful regimes, the top guys in the top teams all have access to someone's top programme, and it then becomes much harder to relate performance differences to doping regimes. Put bluntly, who can objectively demonstrate who has the best doping programme out of Ferrari, Fuentes etc?

Each factor in isolation is necessary to achieve success, i.e. if as a rider you lack any of natural talent, team structure, training, preparation and superdope then you're not going to win the TDF.

The most important factor depends on the type of riders you're comparing:

My view is that natural talent is the most important factor when comparing a pro with a weekend warrior.

When comparing two top pros, it will be fine margins in many factors that make the difference, as they will both be talented, super doped, supported by a strong team etc.

Comparing different middle-ranking pros is an exercise in futility IMHO, as they might be top athletes riding clean or doped up donkeys.
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Spoo



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chapeau for even attempting it though Bartali.

Its a pretty tough ask for even the most experienced MTBers, I got chatting to a guy on the bus back from the end of Oxford to Cambridge last weekend and he said he was doing it as part of a 4 man team as he 'couldn't do it alone' and he was more of a MTBer than a Roadie
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Beasley



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

12h in the saddle.

You need cojones to even sign-in!!

I've always promised myself I do a 12h TT one day, but knowing a few of those super-endurance types, they're an utterly different creed!

Think I'll stick to the 25.
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beasley wrote:
You need cojones to even sign-in!!


Reinforced ones at that!
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bianchigirl



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Bart - sounds grim and simal and rather you than me but you deserve props for attempting it.

SR I agree, 100%
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys ... you make me feel better.

SR - On the subject of natural talent v training v dope v all those other things etc.  Just wondered what you thought to say Wiggins as a GT contender.  Lets say he isn't dabbling in PEDs, then is it better training that has taken him from the autobus to a top 4 finish?
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bianchigirl wrote:
SR I agree, 100%


About "factors" or the need for reinforced cojones? Smile

Thanks anyway...
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Mrs John Murphy



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A friend of my cousin does those 24 hour marathons. I met her (the runner not my cousin) once - she was not exactly a barrel of fun.
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bartali wrote:
SR - On the subject of natural talent v training v dope v all those other things etc.  Just wondered what you thought to say Wiggins as a GT contender.  Lets say he isn't dabbling in PEDs, then is it better training that has taken him from the autobus to a top 4 finish?


Being 10kg lighter (we'll believe the stated pre and post weights as well as the not dabbling claims) when starting out at 82kg from the track days will make a huge difference. In a typical mountain stage of (say) 4000m climbing, 10% lighter means 10% faster over approx 2.5 - 3 hours climbing, i.e. 15 to 18 minutes.

Training will also make a big difference, as for the pursuit, there will be a lot of training work on dealing with lactic acid. In the latter stages of a b*lls out effort of 4.5 minutes, although the pain that makes you want to stop, the lactic acid forces you to slow down even if you don't want to. Training can be tailored to enhance your abilities to metabolise the lactic acid, at the expense of training effectively for longer distances.

Without needing to train for the track, Wiggo could concentrate on developing the "fat-burning" abilities, or more precisely, the ability to break down fat into glycogen, providing more useable fuel for riding 6+ hours a day.

So at the bottom of the final climb, not only has he used less energy to get there (as he's lighter) but he has plenty of glycogen to fuel the efforts on the final climb. He's also going to be going harder as a GC contender, riding as fast as he can, rather than as slow as he can get away with to avoid the time limit (worth a a couple of minutes at most, though.)

I'm not entirely convinced, though... Sad
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But why has he lost 10kg now?  (Which I don't believe BTW)  Why not when he was riding for a french team?  Why not in 2006?  After all it clearly doesn't take him long to lose the weight and switch from pursuitest to road man.

Last edited by Bartali on Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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bianchigirl



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

actually agreed with you on your 'factors' post - now don't go having a heart attack on me
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Spoo



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bartali wrote:
But why has he lost 10kg now?  (Which I don't believe BTW)  Why not when he was riding for a french team?  


On a French team he wouldn't have been training as hard no? Wink *ducks*

I'm not sure about the 10kg claim as a measure of the loss but he had looked a lot more slimline, that picture of him at PR was a bit frightening to be honest. Apologies if this has been done to death but he looked 'wasted away' in the PR pic thats got to hurt him powerwise surely and his TT doesn't appear to have been too affected.
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bart - I don't believe the lost 10kg either. I believe he was low 70s in the TDF - skinny so and so - but the 82kg claimed for his track racing weight doesn't ring true. He might have weighed 82kg during the off-season, but not when "properly pursuing".

As to why now and not before...

Well, my guess would be that he really wanted to nail 3 golds in Beijing. That would have achieved sporting immortality and given the Honours office at #10 something to think about. So in 2006 and 2007, he wouldn't want to compromise his track training. After all, all the endurance athletics disciplines talk about building over 4 years to the OG, not over 1 or 2. To miss a whole year training properly for the TDF might have blunted his edge on the track. (Or not - who knows? Boardman did his best track work a few weeks after his best TDF finish in 1996.)

Having done the 2008 OG, he's then in a position to take a few risks. He's got Olympic medals left right and centre, and must know that whatever he did, the competition on the track would only get hotter, so as a 30-something in 2012, he's only going to go downhill from 2008. (Maybe he knew that the IP was going to get the chop!)

So, only after 2008 is he mentally prepared for potentially abandoning the track in exchange for who knows what on the road.

As I said before, though, I'm not convinced, simply because you'd need to be stunningly brilliant to be as close to a doped up Bertie et al whilst clean as Wiggo was.
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bianchigirl wrote:
actually agreed with you on your 'factors' post - now don't go having a heart attack on me


My heart is fine, thanks. It's the state of Bart's cojones that bothers me. Smile
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SR - Spot on re the weight.  Just not sure I buy the 4 years to prepare for a 4k pursuit but you can become competitive in a GT in about 6 months!?

Obviously there are many factors ... motivation being a great unknown.
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bart - Pursuiting is very specialised. It's not so much that it takes 4 years to become competitive, but that margins are so fine that one year off the specialist training might trim a vital half a percent or even less from performance, which might be enough to make him uncompetitive.

GT riding is mainly about generating power sub-maximally for a very long time. In terms of riding skills, it's not as specialised, other than TTing, but Wiggo has a long background in that already.

It's not like Wiggo came from a standing start to GT contender in 6 months. He was already an elite endurance athlete, so 6 months might be feasible to get the benefit from changing the emphasis on training. I guess only Wiggo knows for sure.

If there was any doping angle to it, I'd be suspicious of his descending skills. Where the heck did he learn to descend like that? Certainly not in a velodrome! Smile
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, but I just don't buy the 4 years of specialist training necessary as the record books are full of world class pursuitists that buck that trend.

As for the GT - he went from a grupetto rider to 4th place in I reckon about 6 months.  All that specialist training for the olympics - then the celebrations and the off season, then by May he can climb with the best GT men.  

Not making a point about PEDs here (not that I don't think they were involved), but about the effects the 'right' training might have.
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Enchantress



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've said it before in another thread - I'm very dubious of Wiggo's transformation from world class pursuiter to TDF top 5 contender.

The pursuit is purely an exercise in vo2max, that is to say, the power output one can generate in the 3-8 minute timeframe. That's quite a ways from being a top 5 finisher in the TDF during mountain stages and the like which involves aerobic power for hours at a time.

We are speaking of vastly different challenges in these two distinct events.

Moreover, everyone in the pro peloton understands that climbing is absolutely based on watts/kg of mass. And as easily as everyone knows this, the conclusion is obvious, the best climbers have the lowest bodyweight in combination with the highest power output.

There is an ideal and optimal figure for body mass whereby weighing less actually becomes a detriment to power output and weighing more, slows the rider down due to excessive mass.

The premise for Wiggos transformation is that he merely shed all this weight and upped his w/kg figure near that of the top climbers in the TDF.

If this were some simple exercise then any rider in the peloton with GC aspirations would simply drop some weight and suddenly climb with aplomb.

Also it is difficult to lose weight, particularly a large figure like 10kg's, without sacrificing lean muscle mass - unless of course, drugs are involved.

Here, most routinely pan Armstrong as being an obvious doper due to his alleged miraculous transformation of a rider due to losing a few kg's and thus becoming the best climber, rather than with the laughing group as before. Wiggo's transformation in terms of climbing is almost as implausible. Back in 07 when he last rode the tour, Wiggo was losing 25-30 minutes to the likes of Contador & the Chicken. Now he's merely a few minute behind contador and almost par with Armstrong.

How is that any more credible than LA? Granted, he's a far, far more likable bloke than Dopestrong and his antics. Still, his on road performance at the TDF is quite dubious to me.
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bart,

So if it's not PEDs, what is your point? (I'm not meaning that rudely...)

Wiggo DID go from an also ran GT man to a podium contender in 6 months, so we're not hypothesising as to whether he could do it, because he already has.

Are you asking why he didn't try it before, as he clearly found it pretty easy, as it took only 6 months. Maybe he has wasted his talent up to now, and could have combined proper GT riding with pursuit dominance. Or maybe he was put under pressure by the Track Team not to take any chances because of the team pursuit.

My guess is that he didn't do it before because it was too big a risk to take, given that he would probably not have expected to be a podium contender. If he'd tried his hand at proper GT riding in 2005 and 2006, he might have been a top 20 sort of guy, and then come back to pursuiting for the OG and been a crucial margin slower. Throwing away potentially three Olympic golds for a top 20 TDF finish isn't a smart idea, so taking the safety first option is not unreasonable.

You never know, though. He might be sitting there now thinking "Why didn't I try this GT thing properly after Athens? I might have won the Tour in 2006." Smile
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enchantress wrote:
If this were some simple exercise then any rider in the peloton with GC aspirations would simply drop some weight and suddenly climb with aplomb.


Enchantress,

I basically agree with all your previous post. One has to be suspicious.

I don't agree with the highlighted point entirely, though. Was it Kimmage who said there are thoroughbreds and there are donkeys? It's entirely possible that Wiggo was an overweight (by GT standards!) thoroughbred, who could keep pace with lightweight donkeys up the climbs. The lightweight donkeys have nowhere to go power to weight wise, whereas Wiggo would go a lot faster losing his excess weight.

It's the "how much" element of faster that is hard to believe.
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