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  1. #1
    Senior Member Cyclomania's Avatar
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    Are the tour de france racers any faster than say Eddy Merckx?

    If the average speed of a TF racer is from 20-25 mph, are they much faster than the greats?
    Sometimes when I'm out doing a shopping run, I'll be offered a free sample (cut of pizza, doughnut, cheezywiz thingy)...little do they know that behind every bite is my gasoline!

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    Kid A TurbineBlade's Avatar
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    Merckx was a TDF racer.

    So yes, he was faster than himself.
    Cyclist, angler and aquarist

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurbineBlade View Post
    Merckx was a TDF racer.

    So yes, he was faster than himself.
    ^^this. I've rarely seen a stupider question. Why not just google for TdF speeds and then try to figure out what they mean?
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Animated Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    You should probably ask this in the Pro Racing for the Fans forum.

    And I agree with Turbine, the question, as asked, makes little sense.

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    http://bikeraceinfo.com/tdf/tdfstats.html

    The Cannibal won 1969-1972 and 1974 at the TdF... in 1971 the avg speed was 38 km/h. The 2011 TdF avg speed was 39 k/h.

    So the answer is "no - they are not much faster." Although in road racing the competitors are not racing all-out all the time, I think these averages are a good comparison.

    The one thing thathas changed is the aerodynamic equipment for time trailling. In my opinion, you can't compare the results from, say pre-1984 with post 1984 due to the prevalence of aero helmets, handlebars, wheels, frames, that make such a huge difference but are not used in mass-start road racing.

    Merckx's hour record in Mexico city is still very close to the record held for conventional bicycles.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cyclomania's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCB0 View Post
    http://bikeraceinfo.com/tdf/tdfstats.html

    The Cannibal won 1969-1972 and 1974 at the TdF... in 1971 the avg speed was 38 km/h. The 2011 TdF avg speed was 39 k/h.

    So the answer is "no - they are not much faster." Although in road racing the competitors are not racing all-out all the time, I think these averages are a good comparison.

    The one thing thathas changed is the aerodynamic equipment for time trailling. In my opinion, you can't compare the results from, say pre-1984 with post 1984 due to the prevalence of aero helmets, handlebars, wheels, frames, that make such a huge difference but are not used in mass-start road racing.

    Merckx's hour record in Mexico city is still very close to the record held for conventional bicycles.
    Thanks for the nice informative answer with a key to the stats.

    So this is a stupid question to some. So what of it!? Just ignore the question and move on. If you're that smart why even respond?!
    Sometimes when I'm out doing a shopping run, I'll be offered a free sample (cut of pizza, doughnut, cheezywiz thingy)...little do they know that behind every bite is my gasoline!

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    It was oddly phrased. I thought about posting a smart ass response but moved on.

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    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Moved to the Professional forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    So Tom only hires people that are nutty? Is part of the requirement to be a moderator on this site is that you have to be nuts??
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclomania View Post
    If the average speed of a TF racer is from 20-25 mph, are they much faster than the greats?
    Speeds are somewhat faster nowadays due to enhance doping, diet, exercise science, money and lighter bikes. However, you can bet that if Eddy were riding today he would be as fast and faster than the rest of them. He would have all the modern advantages.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cyclomania's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hezz View Post
    Speeds are somewhat faster nowadays due to enhance doping, diet, exercise science, money and lighter bikes. However, you can bet that if Eddy were riding today he would be as fast and faster than the rest of them. He would have all the modern advantages.
    Yes, I saw a picture of him recently in an old vintage "complete book of cycling" and wow, the dude was built like a stallion!
    I like how you included "doping" so nonchalantly in your post. Eddy on epo would have been a scary opponent indeed.
    Sometimes when I'm out doing a shopping run, I'll be offered a free sample (cut of pizza, doughnut, cheezywiz thingy)...little do they know that behind every bite is my gasoline!

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCB0 View Post
    http://bikeraceinfo.com/tdf/tdfstats.html
    ....
    Merckx's hour record in Mexico city is still very close to the record held for conventional bicycles.
    I think it is worth pointing out that originally Merckx intended to break not just the hour record, but also the 5km, 10km and 20km records in one ride.

    He decided that was not possible... He decided to not try for the 5km record. He broke the rest.

    The flip side is since the official record has gone back to using a roughly comprable bike I do not thnik any top level cyclists have tried for the record. It would have been nice if Indurain and Romminger made their attempts on traditional bikes, tehy seem to have been the last of the top level cyclists to try, but they were during the techlogical advances era.

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    Senior Member GrayJay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclomania View Post
    If the average speed of a TF racer is from 20-25 mph, are they much faster than the greats?
    Think of it the other way around. How many of todays top racers would be able to adaptand race well if they were transported back in time and had to use heavy non-aero bikes, shifters on the downtube that actually took skill to operatre, only 10 gears, exposed brake cables and brakes that would only moderatly slow your speed, no bike computers or HRM, no radio, no sports drinks or powerbars, ichy wool shorts, hairnet helmets, toestraps pedals and wooden sole shoes that you had to nail your cleats onto!

  13. #13
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
    Moved to the Professional forum.
    I understand why you mods do this... but it would be interesting to know which forum the threads are being moved FROM. Especially if we want to offer helpful responses.

    Please include the source forum in your "moved to" posts.

    Thanks.
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

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    Senior Member justadude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrayJay View Post
    Think of it the other way around. How many of todays top racers would be able to adaptand race well if they were transported back in time and had to use heavy non-aero bikes, shifters on the downtube that actually took skill to operatre, only 10 gears, exposed brake cables and brakes that would only moderatly slow your speed, no bike computers or HRM, no radio, no sports drinks or powerbars, ichy wool shorts, hairnet helmets, toestraps pedals and wooden sole shoes that you had to nail your cleats onto!
    So factoring the advantages of doping, support, and high tech. gear, today's TDF racers are slower?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrayJay View Post
    Think of it the other way around. How many of todays top racers would be able to adaptand race well if they were transported back in time and had to use heavy non-aero bikes, shifters on the downtube that actually took skill to operatre, only 10 gears, exposed brake cables and brakes that would only moderatly slow your speed, no bike computers or HRM, no radio, no sports drinks or powerbars, ichy wool shorts, hairnet helmets, toestraps pedals and wooden sole shoes that you had to nail your cleats onto!
    Don't forget about the riding support the GC guys get from their teammates in the Peloton today. Look at this year's edition. I don't think they would have fared too well with the passive attitude and team dependency if they went back to Eddie's time. Or even worse back to race against Fausto in his time.

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    Different ways of racing, u cant compare.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Cyclomania's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seypat View Post
    Don't forget about the riding support the GC guys get from their teammates in the Peloton today. Look at this year's edition. I don't think they would have fared too well with the passive attitude and team dependency if they went back to Eddie's time. Or even worse back to race against Fausto in his time.
    So, to put it bluntly, today's riders are smarter than yesteryears. More brains, less brawn
    Sometimes when I'm out doing a shopping run, I'll be offered a free sample (cut of pizza, doughnut, cheezywiz thingy)...little do they know that behind every bite is my gasoline!

  18. #18
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCB0 View Post
    http://bikeraceinfo.com/tdf/tdfstats.html

    The Cannibal won 1969-1972 and 1974 at the TdF... in 1971 the avg speed was 38 km/h. The 2011 TdF avg speed was 39 k/h.

    So the answer is "no - they are not much faster." Although in road racing the competitors are not racing all-out all the time, I think these averages are a good comparison.
    1971 was pretty much of an outlier, speeds throughout most of the 70's were around 35 km/h, inching up to 40-41 km/h in the 2000-2011 time frame. Meaning that today's riders, using today's equipment, would beat a 70's rider, using contemporary equipment, by 13 or more hours (assuming a 3600 km TdF). That's fairly substantial.

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    Senior Member justadude's Avatar
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    Does anyone have a Time Machine, like in the movies, so we can get the present racers and past racers (as they were in their prime), together for a race?

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    Bicycle Quarterly did an interesting analysis of Tour de France speeds over the last 100 years compared to speeds in a running event over the same time period. The idea is that increases in speed in the running event would be solely due to improvements in nutrition and training because running equipment is not really a factor.

    The upward slope of this line was laid next to the upward slope of TdF speeds and they matched. This indicates improvements in equipment in bike racing did not really increase speed with the exception of the introduction of multi-speed bikes before WWII.

    I would imagine taking a young Eddy Merckx through Mr Sherman’s wayback machine into the present would give today’s racers a formidable opponent. And if we were to make today’s entire peloton race on 1970’s steel racing bikes with no radio support it would still be a great race at very close to today’s speeds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justadude View Post
    Does anyone have a Time Machine, like in the movies, so we can get the present racers and past racers (as they were in their prime), together for a race?
    I do, but there are no controls on the unit itself, and I lost the remote

  22. #22
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
    Moved to the Professional forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
    I understand why you mods do this... but it would be interesting to know which forum the threads are being moved FROM. Especially if we want to offer helpful responses.

    Please include the source forum in your "moved to" posts.

    Thanks.
    Moved from General Cycling Discussion to Pro.
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    So Tom only hires people that are nutty? Is part of the requirement to be a moderator on this site is that you have to be nuts??
    Forum Guidelines *click here*

  23. #23
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MKahrl View Post
    Bicycle Quarterly did an interesting analysis of Tour de France speeds over the last 100 years compared to speeds in a running event over the same time period. The idea is that increases in speed in the running event would be solely due to improvements in nutrition and training because running equipment is not really a factor.

    The upward slope of this line was laid next to the upward slope of TdF speeds and they matched. This indicates improvements in equipment in bike racing did not really increase speed with the exception of the introduction of multi-speed bikes before WWII.

    I would imagine taking a young Eddy Merckx through Mr Sherman’s wayback machine into the present would give today’s racers a formidable opponent. And if we were to make today’s entire peloton race on 1970’s steel racing bikes with no radio support it would still be a great race at very close to today’s speeds.
    Anyone who thinks there have not been technological improvements in running knows little about running. Compare the modern track with the crushed cinder if 60 years ago. The Hurdles used in modern races are much more forgiving than those of 40 years ago. Not sure how big that one is, but it means a hurdler can train to clear by less, wasting less energy.

    Oh and if we look at middle distance events in track and compare to the TDF a huge part of any speed increase is because of greater depth in the competitors (and in track the use of rabbits) so each competitor is spending less time in the wind.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alhedges View Post
    1971 was pretty much of an outlier, speeds throughout most of the 70's were around 35 km/h, inching up to 40-41 km/h in the 2000-2011 time frame. Meaning that today's riders, using today's equipment, would beat a 70's rider, using contemporary equipment, by 13 or more hours (assuming a 3600 km TdF). That's fairly substantial.
    With far more riders to share the work these days. Shorter stages. Absolutely no thought of multiple stages in one day.

    Few of todays riders would do well if magically transported back. But I think the vast majority of the top riders would do quite well after a few years, once they had adjusted.

    I think Merckx would do well today and fairly quickly. But a large part of that is he wa a true all rounder. His epic Break in the 1969 TDF started just a couple hundred meters before the top of the next to last climb. He opened a minute plus gap on hte downhill to start things. I don't think it would have takne him long to adjust enough to have todays mindset of targeting other specific riders weaknesses. And he could exploit any weakness.

    Riders from the Merckx and Coppi era were used to riding much faster than todays riders, that could produce some real surprises if riders from the past rode today.

    I'm betting Diablo Scott knows why, anyone who knows about Merckx's serious injury suffered in 1969 should be able to figure it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    Anyone who thinks there have not been technological improvements in running knows little about running. Compare the modern track with the crushed cinder if 60 years ago. The Hurdles used in modern races are much more forgiving than those of 40 years ago. Not sure how big that one is, but it means a hurdler can train to clear by less, wasting less energy.
    I don't think the hurdle comparison is all that meaningful. The point was to compare cycling to a low tech endurance sport and see how things progressed. Considering an event that requires more equipment defeats the purpose.

    As for the old tracks, I'm sure they slowed the sprinters down. But once you are up to speed I can believe endurance events wouldn't be effected too much. I know my own times from running high school cross country events weren't much different from running a 5k on the road.

    There are the shoes to consider. But with today's trend towards minimalist footwear maybe that's out the window too.

    I didn't see the article, but I'm guessing that if changing out cinders for asphalt or rubberized surfaces made a large impact it would show up in the data just like the change to multi-speed bikes and if so it could be accounted for. The important thing would be whether the running results showed a predictable improvement during the time periods without major surface/footwear changes and whether or not the improvements to the cycling field matched or exceed it.

    But even if their analysis was faulty, I can't imagine Bicycle Quarterly's advertisers were happy with them running an article like that.

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