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  1. #1
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    Cycling style of Jacques Anquetil vs modern pros

    J.A. had a very interesting cycling style, toes down and it seems he was using his arms and feet as a kind of push/pull.
    Can you share any insight on is unique style?

    I don't see many modern pros cycling this way.
    Watching the Tour of Cali today it crossed my mind.

    I did notice that the pros cycle with their knees very close to the top tube in an almost "knock knee" style which makes sense to keep the legs etc in line with the pelvis.
    They also seem to have a smaller frame with a long seat post, more aerodynamic position and the smaller frame is probably lighter and stiffer ie easier to control.

    Just a few observations, any insight would be great.

    Thanks

    XU

  2. #2
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    He also had a bent over posture that certainly isn't the norm today. That's because he labored at picking strawberries throughout his youth in rural France and had developed back muscles which he used to good effect in his TT style of riding. A lot of leverage from his lower back was transferred down to his legs. I probably wouldn't recommend just anyone adopting that posture (as regards his bending his lower back) unless they have grown up doing a lot of stoop labor. Same could be said about some fighters who fight out of a crouch. Carmen Basilio picked onions. Joe Frazier picked turnips.

    A lot of the cyclists from France in that era came from that rural agricultural background and used cycling as an escape from it. Better to toil at a nationally prestigious sport than picking produce for a subsistence living.

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    Thanks Zinger, I really enjoy watching the old videos of the great cyclists with their smooth flowing style...souplesse
    I am not a sports fan but pro cycling is totally amazing, something that is lost on all my football, basketball,etc friends as they laugh at me when I tell them that cycling is the hardest sport in the world.
    I wonder how someone like Jacques Antqutil would do today.

  4. #4
    1. e4 Nf6 Alekhine's Avatar
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    I love watching Anquetil's style, but I believe it's something that is only meant for certain types. I remember reading about "ankling" some while back, and the consensus was that not everyone should do it. I don't know of any riders who have a similar pedal style today, but I know very little about modern racing or riders at all compared to most on this sub-forum.

    Here's what Jobst Brandt had to say about ankling back in 2000 (with link to a brief and similar summation by Sheldon Brown, who claimed to have done some permanent damage to himself by attempting this technique when it was in vogue to recommend it)

    http://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/ankling.html

  5. #5
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xuwol7 View Post
    I am not a sports fan but pro cycling is totally amazing, something that is lost on all my football, basketball,etc friends as they laugh at me when I tell them that cycling is the hardest sport in the world.
    Most people really don't have a clue. Best you can do is have a spare bike handy and invite them out for a little ride so they can get some insight

    I wonder how someone like Jacques Antquetil would do today.
    Really tough to say. Absolutely no doping controls at all in his era. I really don't see how they doped on amphetamines like Anquetil was known to do and stayed healthy at all back then.....especially in long stage races.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zinger View Post
    Really tough to say. Absolutely no doping controls at all in his era. I really don't see how they doped on amphetamines like Anquetil was known to do and stayed healthy at all back then.....especially in long stage races.
    Not just in long stage races. When the great Coppi was asked if he ever took "La Bomba" he replied "only when necessary". When asked how often it was necessary he said "nearly all the time". The reason most of them stayed healthy is that amphetamines don't really do much long-lasting harm. They were routinely issued to British bomber crews in the second world war to keep them awake and alert during long night-time missions over Germany. Very few of those kids came to any harm, or continued using them out of the context in which they were useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by xuwol7 View Post
    J.A. had a very interesting cycling style, toes down and it seems he was using his arms and feet as a kind of push/pull.
    Can you share any insight on is unique style?

    I don't see many modern pros cycling this way.
    Watching the Tour of Cali today it crossed my mind.

    I did notice that the pros cycle with their knees very close to the top tube in an almost "knock knee" style which makes sense to keep the legs etc in line with the pelvis.
    They also seem to have a smaller frame with a long seat post, more aerodynamic position and the smaller frame is probably lighter and stiffer ie easier to control.


    XU
    There's a very long thread in the road forum about the difference between the old steel frames with a horizontal top tube and the new "compact" carbon frames. The former look much bigger, but show less seatpost and used much deeper drops, so a rider in the drops could put himself in just as aggressive/aero a riding position as a modern pro. It is true that the modern small carbon triangle is stiffer, and while that makes for a more efficient use of power it isn't really anything to do with ease of control.

    As for pedalling style, there was less of an obsession with cadence, in part because of the gearing. When one has only five gears at the back, the steps between gears are bigger and ones cadence rises and falls more significantly as one shifts. Anquetil was noted for his metronomic, high-cadence style at the time, especially in the TTs at which he excelled. How would he do these days? Impossible to compare riders across the generations, but I think we can assume he'd do very well. He was the first to win GTs in what has become a very modern style - win the time trials then defend one's lead in the mountains.

    With regard to "ankling", we have a young girl on our team who does it very conspicuously, dropping her heel deep down to push through the top of the pedal stroke then being toe-down at the bottom of the stroke as she starts to pull up on the unweighted pedal. It looks beautiful, actually, comes entirely naturally to her and I, for one, certainly can't do it. However, the way the rest of us use the ankles, and how we engage the different muscles of the leg when pedalling, is influenced by where we sit relative to the bottom bracket. Sitting well back one can push through the top of the pedal stroke more effectively, further forward one will exert more power through a longer element of the downstroke. You'll hear riders talk about being "on the rivet". Leather saddles had a rivet at the nose and one would move forward on the saddle when under pressure to squeeze out the last ounce of power. Look at how time-triallists ride. Typically they are perched as far forward on the saddle as they can get.
    Last edited by chasm54; 05-20-13 at 02:57 AM.
    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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    good stuff thanks guys, I pedal with a toes down style and push/pull on my handlebars just by nature with no thought to technique.
    I ride a 1972 PX-10 or a canyon express mtb and really love the px10 bike as it is really quick when I want to get out of the way of a driver that is too busy with their phone, texting etc.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Sigh. Matthew 7:6
    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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    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    My posture is probably the worst. It comes with a toeout stance when walking or riding. My stem has to be a wedge tightening one because I'll twist a collet tightening stem about 20 degrees out before I'm two blocks away from the house.

    That PX10 is a keeper !

  10. #10
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Sigh. Matthew 7:6
    God was invented by priests.

  11. #11
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    video of his position.

    http://youtu.be/vXCQCMo_n34?t=110s

    and a merckx photo


    The knees close to the top tube is for aero dynamics.

  12. #12
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zinger View Post
    God was invented by priests.
    No, priests had absolutely nothing to do with the emergence of Eddy Merckx.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    No, priests had absolutely nothing to do with the emergence of Eddy Merckx.
    Priests, no.

    God, yes.

    But then, god likes to think he's Eddy Mercx

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    Quote Originally Posted by xuwol7 View Post
    good stuff thanks guys, I pedal with a toes down style and push/pull on my handlebars just by nature with no thought to technique.
    I ride a 1972 PX-10 or a canyon express mtb and really love the px10 bike as it is really quick when I want to get out of the way of a driver that is too busy with their phone, texting etc.
    The push/pull on the bars thing is a bit of a myth. If you're sitting down, then any force produced by doing so stops at the saddle and cannot be transmitted to the legs, except by squashing bit that we really don't want to be squashed.

    If you're out of the saddle, then yes, it has an effect which is why we accelerate (for a short time) when on a climb or even sprinting for a town boundary sign.

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    I love watching videos of the masters, incredible and very inspiring and motivating when I ride..
    JA does have smooth style but it's kind of hard to figure out how he gets the torque to the pedals with his toes pointing down.
    I was doing some research and found a few old posts from the slow twitch forums and some guy named Nolan claimed to have discovered his secret, he was lambasted by everyone but it was kind of entertaining.

  16. #16
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    The push/pull on the bars thing is a bit of a myth. If you're sitting down, then any force produced by doing so stops at the saddle and cannot be transmitted to the legs, except by squashing bit that we really don't want to be squashed.

    If you're out of the saddle, then yes, it has an effect which is why we accelerate (for a short time) when on a climb or even sprinting for a town boundary sign.
    I think if your posture is affected by toe out (or maybe toe in) it has an effect. Guys like me probably waste a certain amount of energy on sideways force even when we're sitting. and I'm kind of wondering if guys who cycle with toes down aren't affected by toe-in posture. One way to find out is to use old fashioned cleats with caged road pedals. If your cleats are mounted straight you'll have sore knee problems soon enough and will have to adjust those cleats. Good bike shops usually used to have "fit kits" for that and I believe some still do.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    No, priests had absolutely nothing to do with the emergence of Eddy Merckx.
    Gino "the pious" would have disputed that... lol. Bartali had a blessed virgin Mary shrine set up in his hotel room after every stage. he also snooped through Coppi's room every chance he got to find out what "the long one" had in his medicine bag... ( no wonder he went to confession every week...)

  18. #18
    Coppista Rhinelander's Avatar
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    I've learned that he did two things: first, he shortened his crank arms to 170 or even to 168 (depending on the course and most often just for TT's) and trained using 53/15-16 gearing a lot for longer periods. This "higher cadence" over long periods is said to help quiet hip movement which can give a more "round" pedal stroke and therefor a better energy transfer. The story about picking strawberries is true. Strong backs are certainly an asset. Merckx himself said that the crash he had where he hurt his back, almost cost him his career. In his words: "I was never the same after that..."

  19. #19
    Coppista Rhinelander's Avatar
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    Great video. Amazing how quiet his upper body is compared to Poulidor (who was no slouch in anyone's book)

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    As for pedalling style, there was less of an obsession with cadence, in part because of the gearing. When one has only five gears at the back, the steps between gears are bigger and ones cadence rises and falls more significantly as one shifts. Anquetil was noted for his metronomic, high-cadence style at the time, especially in the TTs at which he excelled. How would he do these days? Impossible to compare riders across the generations, but I think we can assume he'd do very well. He was the first to win GTs in what has become a very modern style - win the time trials then defend one's lead in the mountains.
    Nice post! I believe Anquetil was the first to pay attention to high cadence training. Gearing for predominantly flat terrain was usually 53/46 (some anywhere between 42 to 48) and 13,14,15, 16, 18 or variants like 13,14,15, 18, 20 and so on. Mountain stages might see stuff like 13,15, 18, 20, 22. 6 cogs came into use not long after

  21. #21
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    Thanks to all that posted as I have learned so much, I cycle and read more than I post.
    Last edited by xuwol7; 05-25-13 at 02:45 AM. Reason: an eternal student of cycling something so simple can be something so complicated.

  22. #22
    Senior Member trescojones's Avatar
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    J Anqetiel looks as if the pedal axle is further forward than photos of many contemporary riders, this might aid the things described about his style

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alekhine View Post
    I love watching Anquetil's style, but I believe it's something that is only meant for certain types. I remember reading about "ankling" some while back, and the consensus was that not everyone should do it. I don't know of any riders who have a similar pedal style today, but I know very little about modern racing or riders at all compared to most on this sub-forum.

    Here's what Jobst Brandt had to say about ankling back in 2000 (with link to a brief and similar summation by Sheldon Brown, who claimed to have done some permanent damage to himself by attempting this technique when it was in vogue to recommend it)

    http://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/ankling.html
    Anquetil did not use the Ankling technique, he used a simple semi circular technique which enabled him to apply the same or even greater torque between 11-2 o'c than that applied between 2-5 o'c. Torque was generated between 11-2 o'c in exactly the same way as indoor Tug o'War competitors generate their powerful forward foot force. The arms were used when required for resistance purposes to counteract that forward maximal torque at 12 and 1 o'c. He never did perfect the technique because for this aero bars are a necessity.

  24. #24
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    Nice, "never perfected the technique", wow, watching him ride blows my mind.
    I think he is the greatest cyclist ever, I know I am going to get flamed for this....
    Love watching his videos.. damn so much effortless power....amazing to me at least.

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