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Vuelta 2016: Stages 8-10, Rising Gradients, Aug 27th - 29th
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mazda



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:43 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Thought I'd missed a couple of exciting days of racing, but apparently not.
Yesterday I just caught David Millar saying that was one of the most exciting mountain finishes he's ever seen (due to there being no prescribed correct way to ride the uneven mountain).

We even saw Quintana with his mouth open as he strained to drop Contador. He seems to have changed his tune from saying he could afford to ride to defend (after taking the Red) to cheekily suggesting he needs 3 minutes on Froome.
Clearly the team psychologist has had a word with him on what to say.

Whether Froome has the belief to risk attacking Quintana I don't know.
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HuwB



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bartali wrote:
Much though I don't like (and don't believe in) Froome ... I think the real story from 2016 is Valverde's ability to be competitive in three GTs.  Given he has never really been a GT 'star' in the same sense as Bertie, Froome, Nibali etc .... its pretty staggering that he can maintain 'podium' level in all three (so far).  Suggests that (i) he might have wine more GTs if he could 'peak' like the rest. (ii) he has a different metal/physical make up from most GT riders or (iii) he's on some sort of programme (legal or otherwise) to maintain his level.  FWIW - I think the Quintana is suspect too.



This.
Which is the point I am labouring over in regard of Froome.
There have more suspicious performances in this Vuelta than the guy who yesterday rode his own tempo in order not to blow himself up.
Yet he gets singled out for the doper ridicule, because other riders did just that.
Valverde entering his eight straight GT week remains ahead of Froome in the GC.
He blew up well over 6kms from the summit, yet conceded a mere 5 seconds.
Folks seeing what they want to see, in order to vent against a rider they don't like. Simple as.
Lucky everybody likes Peter Sagan, or else he'd get the same treatment for being able to ride the 21 days of the Tour like each day was a monument.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HuwB wrote:

Lucky everybody likes Peter Sagan, or else he'd get the same treatment for being able to ride the 21 days of the Tour like each day was a monument.


Fortunately you're around to keep reminding everyone about how inhuman is Sagan's tour form.

Equally as bias as my blindfolded Froome observations

In full agreement with you both about Valverde's consistency. Just not worth to comment on it.
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HuwB



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boogerd_Fan wrote:
HuwB wrote:

Lucky everybody likes Peter Sagan, or else he'd get the same treatment for being able to ride the 21 days of the Tour like each day was a monument.


Fortunately you're around to keep reminding everyone about how inhuman is Sagan's tour form.

Equally as bias as my blindfolded Froome observations

In full agreement with you both about Valverde's consistency. Just not worth to comment on it.


No.
That's the first point.
I totally accept Sagan's extraordinary Tour performances as legit, free from speculation.
The main point I'm trying to make is highlighted by your final sentence.
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HuwB wrote:
He blew up well over 6kms from the summit, yet conceded a mere 5 seconds.
Personally I don't have a problem with that.  Valverde is a past master at managing his effort which is probably part of the answer to my question above. Perhaps if he hung tough a little longer he may ship more time.  As for Froome I haven't see much to be concerned about this year other than I don't believe the back story.  I think he rode a good tour and will be there or there abouts here too.
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mazda



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have read quite a few reports now, all of them containing the same narrative "Froome was in trouble". I don't think he ever was in trouble, not physically over the limit.
It is just something that we don't see all that often these days, not visibly among the leaders, of different paces deliberately being set.
Labeling Froome as a non-climber would seem to be taking things a bit far (he's not quite a Miguel Indurain) , but everything is relative, and at the moment Quintana is relegating him to that role.

I would compare and contrast him with Gesink and Contador.

Gesink was "in trouble" early on the climb when the likes of Rolland easily dropped him from the breakaway and he was off the back of the group for quite a while. But in the end he was the top rider from the break.

Contador got into trouble on the final steep ramp and conceded over a minute to Quintana, over terrain that contained a lot of flat and downhill.
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mazda



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have they changed Friday's stage ?
The Vuelta profile differs from Steephill quite a bit, and is a much easier last 40km.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bartali wrote:
HuwB wrote:
He blew up well over 6kms from the summit, yet conceded a mere 5 seconds.
Personally I don't have a problem with that.  Valverde is a past master at managing his effort which is probably part of the answer to my question above. Perhaps if he hung tough a little longer he may ship more time.  As for Froome I haven't see much to be concerned about this year other than I don't believe the back story.  I think he rode a good tour and will be there or there abouts here too.


Agreed.
I used it to highlight how Froome's climb wasn't extraordinary Clinic material. Wink
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Cyclingnews ..

Quote:
Vuelta a España leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has called for power meters to be banned from competition, a move backed by his teammate Alejandro Valverde, who currently lies second overall. They take away a lot of spectacle and make you race more cautiously,” Quintana said. “I’d be the first in line to say they should be banned.” ... “I think they’re really useful for training, but they take out a lot of drama from the sport,” added Valverde. “In competition you should be racing on feelings.


I fully agree ... radios too. BUT, not the right time to say it.  Lacks a bit of class IMO.
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mazda



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I assume that a pro cyclist can pretty much tell the rate they should be riding at and how it relates to their known planned power output ?
So a rider with enough self-control and sufficient mental agility wouldn't necessarily need the comfort of it being displayed on a small screen for them, would they ?

This seems to be a similar debate to the one that F1 isn't having with much success. There is the technology to measure so much data, and the knowledge of how to apply and react to that data, that it seems to be detracting from "real" racing. You know, the sort of racing that only men who died young could take part in.

There seems to be some parallels with Mercedes calculating the best tyre strategy, fuel settings, use of electrically stored power at a point in the lap in order to obtain the fastest tace time and Sky working out the fastest way to get Froome up a hill.

The trouble is, how do you beat that, other than being better at what Mercedes and Sky are doing ?
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You beat it by simply banning the radios and the meters and putting the racing back into the hands of the riders.  If a pro cyclist can ride to power without a meter then good luck to them, but if they can then why have the meter?  Lets just get rid of them.  Riders have always had different 'climb' strategies ... at least since the 40s.  What the meters do is turn cycling into science ... usually, but not always (as demonstrated yesterday), to the detriment of entertainment.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Power meters are something of a red-herring re exciting racing. 10 year old kids can pace themselves evenly over a 400m swimming race after a bit of trial and error. Pro cyclists can easily pace themselves up the final climb by feel as the difference between going hard but with a bit in reserve and as hard as you can (ie the effort level for the final 2 or 3 k) is huge in terms of feel. Therefore, other than hunger-knock, no-one blows up halfway up and is surprised at the time. The feeling they're about to blow creeps up over time and they can either keep going and hope everyone slows down or back off and hope they ride back up as others slow. (This happens all the time on climbs though usually it is the whole GC bunch that doesn't follow a lone attack rather than a single GC rider not following an acceleration of the rest of the GC bunch.)

Pros largely race with power meters because they're paid to do so to create the impression that a £1000 power meter is essential for Weekend Warriors. (Whereas in reality, a good diet and a DVD player for the turbo sessions is more important!) They are not without merit, obviously, but the merits are marginal and very expensive for the masses, so without the nudge from pros, power meters would be a "hard sell".

I think even-pacing has become more popular given the control that radios give teams. There's little chance of a "suicidal" attack succeeding as riders know where all key rivals are and if Bloggs attacks up the penultimate climb then the chasers simply pace themselves from there to the finish as quickly as they can, knowing that if they go as quickly as they can but steadily, they will finish before the attacker (unless the attacker is genuinely better on the day, obviously!)

I'm guessing that on sprint stages, the key information for the sprint teams is how fast the gap to the break is changing rather than the wattage of the rider leading the chase.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure I agree with this SR.  While riders can ride by feel (and every day is different) it must be an advantage to know exactly what you can sustain and for how long.  Certainly weekend warriors (I hate that term Smile ) will go quicker and more efficiently up a climb if they are riding to a number rather than feel. Perhaps with the pros its less of an issue, but it is still an issue.  

Agreed re radios though ... they are a bigger culprit. There's no doubt in my mind that cycling was more spectacular before the age of radios and power meters.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bartali wrote:
Certainly weekend warriors (I hate that term Smile ) will go quicker and more efficiently up a climb if they are riding to a number rather than feel.


I hate the term Weekend Warrior too. But only because I'm more of a "Monthly Marauder" these days!

I actually think the enthusiastic amateur will generally go slower than they might have done using a power meter than if riding by feel.

Consider an approximately 60 minute climb e.g Hautacam or Luz Ardiden. Anyone in anything like sensible shape for the challenge could set off riding by feel thinking "Steady for first 15 minutes, push on a bit to half way and then see what's in the tank." One extreme scenario is that you get to half way having ridden a bit more gently than you could have done, but there's still plenty of scope for laying it all down in the second half. Obviously if someone has such a bad feel that they get to the top barely out of breath then there's no hope. But per my observation about 10 year olds being able to pace a 400m swim off feel, this doesn't seem a likely scenario.

Another extreme scenario is that you ride with marine-like stupidity to your target power e.g. 300 watts. However, after 20 minutes, you're deep into the red zone because for whatever reason, today is only a 280 watt day. The result of this is that you limp to the top far slower than if you had ridden by feel, even slightly conservatively.

I will concede that if you are to extract the absolute maximum performance then targeting a particular output level and hoping for the best is the only way to go. I've done this on my rowing machine (a big, painful power meter) many times, usually ending in epic failure, but every so often it came off!
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst waiting to watch todays race . . .

I'm going with Bart on this one with respect to the unwashed public. I have a crude power meter on the bike computer which works much like the online calculators where you input gradient, speed, weight and so on and out pops some numbers. On climbs the computer lines up pretty well with the online calculators which in turn have been shown to line up pretty well with reality (despite the protestations of many). Riding to a number on the screen is pretty easy and what works well is I get much quicker feedback on changes in effort than waiting for my heart rate to stabilise at its new level. Why ride on feelings when I can have a number in front of me? My only problem is that around here I'm limited to about 20 minute climbs cos that's our geography. So whilst I know I can manage about 225W (according to the estimates) for 20 mins, I don't really get much of a benefit from the numbers.

In terms of the pro peloton they're all riding with power meters (I've hung around at the start of enough bike races by now) so I think it in some corners of the internet it unjustly ends up being another stick to beat the imagined Skybots with. The other teams have the same tools so I don't see how it gives Sky an advantage, even less an unfair one. Sky made a decision the other day on how to ride the climb. I'm pretty sure they could have done the same without knowing real time power numbers. Being pros they can do the feelings pretty well.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bio - What do you do when you can't hold the power number you thought you could?
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's not happened yet - which is more a reflection on me being relaxed about my cycling than some type of a boast. I was on the road bike everyday last week (420km and 8000m) and I pretty much never toggled through to the power screen. Quite happy to enjoy the scenery and the first hints of orange creeping into the trees despite the temperature being comfortably into the 30s!

If I was to guess as to what would happen, I presume it would be about the same as if after about 3/4 of the way up, I decided it wasn't such a feel good climb as I thought it was at the bottom Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bio - I'm not sure you're fully embracing the potential for suffering when a full on effort goes wrong. 20 minutes is plenty long enough to built a very large hurt box!

But joking aside, I do think full-on efforts are the only way to test the relative benefits of pacing via feel or power meter as with such an effort you'll be in some degree of non-trivial physical discomfort after the first quarter (or earlier) and the remaining effort needs to be carefully managed.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I'm not sure you're fully embracing the opportunities of letting your subconscious get on with solving the various problems on your to do list, whilst you enjoy a stress free ride not worrying about feelings or numbers Smile

I think if you tried riding to a power number you'd have a better feel for what I'm saying Wink

I will finish on the topic by saying that my feelings tag along on every climb whether I want them to or not and that it seems self evident (to me anyway) that also adding an objective measurement into the mix can only be beneficial.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Biosphere wrote:
...adding an objective measurement into the mix can only be beneficial.


I like numbers as well as the next man - maybe even more - and spend a lot of time calculating projected finish times and VAM on climbs. At least when I can actually still do the sums! (Which isn't a flippant comment - mental arithmetic in the red zone is decidedly tricky.)

It's just that based on several hundred time trials on a rowing machine (which is simply a power meter than arbitrarily converts power to speed and shows performance to 4 significant figures) and a fair few TTs on the turbo (where speed plays the part of power, albeit non linearly) and up hills I've learnt the hard way that unless you allow for how you're feeling physically on the day and modify your effort accordingly you will most likely die a horrible and painful death around the three quarter distance mark!


Anyway, each to their own.


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