Today I rode the training ride/race, where most people ride full carbon bikes, extremely deep dish carbon aero wheels and very expensive color matched helmets, shoes and kits for teams they don't ride for. Entry into this club is at least $5000 and there are some that have paid well over $10k for a premium membership. This is a serious group with many very fast racers, although they weren't going all out this morning.
There was a guy, probably in his early 30's, riding a vintage, downtube shifter, full Campy Cinelli, probably from the late 70's, early 80's. He had the whole retro kit, a leather hairnet over a campy cap, mesh back leather palm gloves, he even had a spare tube around his waist! Well this guy easily kept up with the group, in fact he could easily move up and through the pack at will. Many guys with the latest, most expensive gear fell off the back, but this guy held on for the whole ride.
You talk with most wannabee racers these days and all they talk about is the number of watts this unobtanium/carbon part will give you, but the proof is in the legs. The fact that this guy could easily keep up demonstrates that there has been very little functional improvement since the golden age of race bikes, the late 70's-early 80's, despite the new, expensive materials that bikes are made of today.