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Old 02-25-14, 01:44 AM   #1
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TDF pros not very good later in life ?

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like none of the TDF riders are the best riders when they hit their 40's and 50's.

Do they stop racing ? Are they just worn out ?
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Old 02-25-14, 01:49 AM   #2
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Old 02-25-14, 11:46 AM   #3
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Think about how much of their lives are dedicated to cycling during their pro years. Every calorie and pedal stroke is calculated to improve performance. Replicating that level of precision training during retirement would be crazy, they might as well continue being a pro. This just being one of the multitude of reasons I see pros getting slower later in life.

I also read that performing at a high level early in life usually means their body peaks and then breaks down around 27 years of age in men. Beginning training around this time provides better longevity and faster performances in older men (50, 60, 70, etc.) since the body isn't broken down and their training peak doesn't coincide with their physical peak.
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Old 02-25-14, 12:20 PM   #4
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Replicating that level of precision training during retirement would be crazy, they might as well continue being a pro.
They physically can't continue being pros. Human bodies experience a slow decline in power and strength after mid-30's. It's pretty small (Chris Horner at 40 would still confidently kick asses of all 25-year-old Cat 1/2/3's in this country) but enough that the person would stop winning. Once you stop winning stages, it's time to retire. That's why racing organizations like USA Cycling have separate classes for under-35 and over-35 ("masters") with further age-based subclasses within masters.

Pro racers might still be racing when they are 50, they just can't get into the same high-profile competitions like TDF, and there's probably much less (if any) money in it for them.
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Old 02-25-14, 01:15 PM   #5
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Like any former pro athletes, some of them get fat and lazy. Others stay in pretty good shape.

A number of ex pros have done very well in L'Etape de Tour, which is not riding the actual TDF, but still takes pretty good shape to be at the pointy end.

It's an incredibly demanding lifestyle to race at the Pro Tour level. It's unreasonable to expect anyone to stay at that level of fitness when their careers are over. That said, most old pros could still drop most of all of us at will.


I don't think anybody here wants a sprint against Cippolini, even at his advanced age.

http://cyclingperspective.com/mario-...pollini-bikes/
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Old 02-25-14, 01:38 PM   #6
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Go tell that to Jensie!
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Old 02-25-14, 01:39 PM   #7
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Pro racers might still be racing when they are 50, they just can't get into the same high-profile competitions like TDF, and there's probably much less (if any) money in it for them.
There are definitely guys racing 50+ in the U.S. that are ex pros. (which kinda sucks for us Cat 3's). For the most part though, its relatively low level former domestic pros.
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Old 02-27-14, 01:20 AM   #8
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Old 02-27-14, 07:15 AM   #9
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Old 02-27-14, 10:43 AM   #10
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most pro's in any sport are done by age 35 with a few exceptions.
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Old 02-27-14, 11:04 AM   #11
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Old 02-27-14, 11:06 AM   #12
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most pro's in any sport are done by age 35 with a few exceptions.
Cadel Evans is 37. Maybe he's not going to win the TdF again, but he's not getting dropped by the peloton AFAIK.
And then there's Horner and Voigt.
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Old 02-27-14, 11:22 AM   #13
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OTOH, Greg Lemond doesn't look like he can be very fast at this weight:

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/wp-cont.../01/LeMond.jpg
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Old 02-28-14, 10:37 AM   #14
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Cadel Evans is 37. Maybe he's not going to win the TdF again, but he's not getting dropped by the peloton AFAIK.
And then there's Horner and Voigt.
There are always going to be a few. Notice Jakedatc said 'most'.

It counters those that don't make it to 30.
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Old 02-28-14, 11:39 AM   #15
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There are always going to be a few. Notice Jakedatc said 'most'.

It counters those that don't make it to 30.
I did notice the word "most", which means >50%, but combined with the word "done", I disagree. Perhaps there are different definitions of "done" There are plenty of good riders in their early-mid-30s - Wiggins is 33, Cancellara is 32 and about to go for the hour record. Maybe they won't be the best in the world 2-3 years, but I doubt that they will be anything other than first-class riders. Is that "done"?
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Old 02-28-14, 11:42 AM   #16
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Actually, Cancellara will be 33 in 3 weeks
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Old 02-28-14, 02:03 PM   #17
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I did notice the word "most", which means >50%, but combined with the word "done", I disagree. Perhaps there are different definitions of "done" There are plenty of good riders in their early-mid-30s - Wiggins is 33, Cancellara is 32 and about to go for the hour record. Maybe they won't be the best in the world 2-3 years, but I doubt that they will be anything other than first-class riders. Is that "done"?
Most... as in Most.. you named 3-4 more out of 150-200 pro tour riders? name me 60 others and you might be getting somewhere.
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Old 02-28-14, 02:25 PM   #18
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Most... as in Most.. you named 3-4 more out of 150-200 pro tour riders? name me 60 others and you might be getting somewhere.
If your definition of "done" is no longer in the pro tour at 35, I'm sure that's true. But there are different definitions of done. As in, they would still kick the butts of most everybody else in the world except for the top ~0.01%.
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Old 02-28-14, 02:34 PM   #19
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The OP was talking about being in the tour de france. i'll even concede all pro tour events and spring classics.

yes the retired pros would still dominate a weekend group ride and be competitive in non pro races.
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Old 02-28-14, 03:14 PM   #20
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well, maybe the OP will come back and clarify what he meant, but he said that they're not the best riders when they are in their 40s and 50s. Unless the aging process is total news to him, I didn't take that to mean competition at the TdF level.

BTW, there were, by my count, 13 riders 35+ in last year's TdF. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...Tour_de_France
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Old 02-28-14, 05:50 PM   #21
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Maybe, because they no longer have access (or can not afford buy) the good drugs that had been used by so many in the past.
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Old 02-28-14, 06:25 PM   #22
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well, maybe the OP will come back and clarify what he meant, but he said that they're not the best riders when they are in their 40s and 50s. Unless the aging process is total news to him, I didn't take that to mean competition at the TdF level.

BTW, there were, by my count, 13 riders 35+ in last year's TdF. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...Tour_de_France
Sure. But it's more or less the same 13 as last year. But every year there are at least that many who ride the only TdF of their career. And many others who do 2-5 and are gone. That is the case for more than 50%.
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Old 02-28-14, 07:07 PM   #23
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Motivation is such a huge factor in approaching your potential, at any age or ability level. Most people are not going to have that drive when the results are no linger possible. Some ex pros do find other avenues.
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Old 02-28-14, 07:35 PM   #24
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The problem with TDF participation is that there are many factors influencing it. Aside from aging, you have burnout, retirement due to injuries, etc. Most pro cyclists are already competing professionally by age 25. Wiggins was representing the UK at the Olympics at 20, Cancellara was signed up by his first pro team at 19. Not everyone has stamina and motivation to keep going for 15+ years. The oldest active cyclists tend to be "late bloomers", relatively speaking. For example, Jens Voigt is still active at 41, but he didn't turn pro till about 25 because he spent 4 years in the German Army.

And results at TDF poorly correlate with performance because group dynamics plays a large role.

To get an idea how aging affects athletic performance, here's a plot estimating how fast it would take a hypothetical world-best male runner to run a marathon at different ages (for men, the specific distance does not seem to matter much, the curve would be pretty much the same for 5 km and for a marathon, just the overall scale would change):



As an interesting side note, actual average times at large marathons rise much slower with age. An average 30 year old male runs an average marathon in about 4:15. This chart would suggest that an average 40 year old would be slower by about 6 minutes (2.5%) and an average 50 year old would be slower by 30 minutes (10%). In the real world, 40 year olds are about as fast as 30 year olds, and 50 year olds are only slower by about 10 minutes. The reason is that older recreational runners are more experienced and they are closer to their own peak potential. (This only works for regular guys, but not for pros.)
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Old 02-28-14, 11:31 PM   #25
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That's a very interesting graph, but research shows that cycling and running are not necessarily the same in this respect. Diminished race speed may be more gradual for cyclists.

See for example

www.ajol.info/index.php/sasma/article/download/31858/23635‎

If the link gives you trouble, the first sentence of the conclusion is,
"In conclusion, this study established a trend that age-related decrements in performance occur at an earlier age in running compared with cycling in the specific races used in this study."

St. Clair et al. 2004 "Age-related decrements in cycling and running performance" Sports Medicine v. 16 pp 8-11.

Caveat: Perhaps the specific races that they examined are not representative. Or perhaps race speed is less dependent on ability in cycling, where drafting and group dynamics apply.
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