not a doctor
Join Date: Jun 2007
Bikes: Fuji Team 06, Giant ATX-something from mid-90's, Bob Jackson tourer from 1976 (belonged to my late father), a custom touring tandem (ditto).
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plus they train for different things. a sprinter relies on power and acceleration, and a climber relies on aerobic capacity and endurance. the training is significantly different for these two types of effort (although both types of rider obviously need to work on all aspects of their cycling, just the emphasis is different).
their natural body composition (fast twitch/slow twitch muscle fibre ratio, body mass, aerobic capacity, cardiac capacity) would play a big part in what sort of rider they become - no matter how hard mcewen or boonen tried, they would never be pure climbers. just as rasmussen is never gonna have the speed and power of mcewen over a short sprint, no matter how many power cleans he does.
given that they're never going to compete with pure climbers in the mountains, it makes sense for sprinters to conserve as much energy as possible, just making sure they get through the mountain stages within the time limit, and get to the flat stages as fresh as possible.