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Opinions Wanted -- DNA or Dedication?

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Opinions Wanted -- DNA or Dedication?

Old 07-18-07, 03:05 PM
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Opinions Wanted -- DNA or Dedication?

What really determines bike-racing success, genetics or hard work?

http://marcofanelli.blogspot.com/200...edication.html

Please read and offer your opinion. Thanks!

Mark
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Old 07-18-07, 03:14 PM
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Don't forget:
Support system
Flexible schedule
Funds

But of the two, my opinion is that hard work is more important at the lower level, but you're not going to get to the upper level without both.
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Old 07-18-07, 03:38 PM
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Old 07-18-07, 03:42 PM
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I'll echo what's already been posted to your blog, I've seen guys get by on good genes to the 2s.
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Old 07-18-07, 04:37 PM
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Genetics can make hard work easier and more successful. Without genes, cycling can be miserable for a long time.

When you see an untrained high school freshman get out on the track in his trainers and run a "fitness assessment" mile under 4:40 then it's pretty clear that genetics can start you off way ahead of everyone else.

On the other hand, we had a guy at our high school who ran egg beater style on the worst legs God could have possibly chosen for him. His arm movement was exaggerated and he bounced a lot. He was a scrawny football reject who came in last his first time in a foot race. He later became one of the most decorated runners in our school's history.

I remember that he had an insanely high tolerance for pain (he once finished a race on a broken leg and would often end workouts wailing and collapsing), which has me now more open-mindedly revisiting Dr Pete's idea of high pain tolerance as a key differentiator of cyclists of similar abilities.
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Old 07-18-07, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by OTB View Post
What really determines bike-racing success, genetics or hard work?
Both (end of thread) ........... What other answer is there ?
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Old 07-18-07, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Both (end of thread) ........... What other answer is there ?

epo
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Old 07-18-07, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cat4ever
Don't forget:
Support system
Flexible schedule
Funds
Yeah, as I suggested in the blog, assume all that is as good as possible. For example, married to pefectly supportive spouse, great team, no job, independently wealthy!

Originally Posted by Homebrew01
Both (end of thread) ........... What other answer is there ?
That's why I phrased the question like I did in the blog post, specifically, what level could a typical, new, late-20s bike racer reach if he had unrestricted time and funds to apply? In other words, his only limitations were luck and genetics. To deal with the luck variable, let's assume he races every weekend all season long. What's your answer to that question?
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Old 07-18-07, 06:40 PM
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"... what level could a typical, new, late-20s bike racer reach if he had unrestricted time and funds to apply? In other words, his only limitations were luck and genetics. To deal with the luck variable, let's assume he races every weekend all season long. What's your answer to that question? ..."

He would reach whatever level his physiology permitted. For some people, they might never get beyond cat 5, others would win the TDF
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Old 07-18-07, 08:22 PM
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This explains why the FGOB's always blow by me.

I'm probably the world's lousiest endurance athlete. My Dad was college shot put and bench press champion and my mom was 80 yard hurdle national record holder.
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Old 07-18-07, 08:28 PM
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Hard work, fitness is nothing less than hard work.
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Old 07-18-07, 11:05 PM
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I wish my parents gave me good genes. That is all.
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Old 07-19-07, 02:22 AM
  #13  
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From the link: "How about John Smith from Elko, Nevada, racing age 28 and a relatively novice bike racer...If John Smith had unrestricted time to train..."

All names have been changed to protect the innocent. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Old 07-19-07, 04:40 AM
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DNA + EPO x VO2 Max = MAX GC
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Old 07-19-07, 07:01 PM
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hey...
Nice blog post. I was gonna post on there but I think this is easier.

You wanted some examples of guys who trained 20-30 hours a week and didn't become Cat 1 or D3 pros?
Well, just head on out to Boulder. It's amazing how much some guys "live the life" and really really struggle to get out of Cat 2. In my opinion, you have to have above average genetics AND everything you mentioned.

Another couple things. You need above average genetics to train 30 quality hours a week! Guys who don't might even hurt their performance, and certainly couldn't take a full "every single weekend" race schedule on top of that.

Then, I would also say that -including everything mentioned so far- you have to know how to race. I know SO many guys who just don't ''get it". There is more to genetics than VO2 and LT. It's also how to read a race and capitalize on it, how to move up through the middle of the group, bomb a descent... lots of these things can be learned, but watch more Cat 1 and pro races and you see the guys were born with that too.
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Old 07-20-07, 08:03 AM
  #16  
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Dedication, training, expensive toys, gumption, whatever, won't do you squat without genetics.

The former soviet states knew this, which is why they tested all kids at 12-14 for proficiency in sport, then they doped them to the gills.

Genetics+dope= winning pro athlete.
 
Old 07-20-07, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by The_Convert View Post
Then, I would also say that -including everything mentioned so far- you have to know how to race. I know SO many guys who just don't ''get it". There is more to genetics than VO2 and LT. It's also how to read a race and capitalize on it, how to move up through the middle of the group, bomb a descent... lots of these things can be learned, but watch more Cat 1 and pro races and you see the guys were born with that too.
Uhhh bull****. Maybe they are born with slightly better reflexes then others or with a propensity to take more risks which allowed them to develop these skills faster but to say that things like "reading a race" have more then a slight genetic component that couldn't be almost completely overcome is ridiculous.
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Old 07-20-07, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by dutret View Post
Originally Posted by The_Convert
Then, I would also say that -including everything mentioned so far- you have to know how to race. I know SO many guys who just don't ''get it". There is more to genetics than VO2 and LT. It's also how to read a race and capitalize on it, how to move up through the middle of the group, bomb a descent... lots of these things can be learned, but watch more Cat 1 and pro races and you see the guys were born with that too.
Uhhh bull****. Maybe they are born with slightly better reflexes then others or with a propensity to take more risks which allowed them to develop these skills faster but to say that things like "reading a race" have more then a slight genetic component that couldn't be almost completely overcome is ridiculous.
Actually he's right on. Genetics and fitness will only get you so far. You can assume that ALL the top guys are darn close in that respect. Just look at the spread in their TT times vs. amateur TTs. In the lower levels you can get by on fitness and strength and if you're better trained and closer to your genetic potential than the others, you'll have an easy time.

However, at the cat-1/2/pro level, and perhaps the 3s, you can assume that they're all darn close to their genetic limits, it's all in the brains after that. You need the tactical awareness and strategic cunning of a chess grandmaster. You gotta be able to see 3-4 moves ahead and come up with counter-measures for all the possible contingencies. Then when something happens in the pack, you'll know which is the best response. Heck, I've seen hell-ass strong guys in the 3s wallow for years because they never learned to follow a single wheel closely and smoothly. Skill and mental-acuity is something you learn and develop, what percentage of that is genetic I have no idea.

The stratgies occurs on a team level as well with multiple riders coordinating maneuvers. Outside of genetics, training, support and funding, you gotta have brains too.
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Old 07-20-07, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Actually he's right on. Genetics and fitness will only get you so far. You can assume that ALL the top guys are darn close in that respect. Just look at the spread in their TT times vs. amateur TTs. In the lower levels you can get by on fitness and strength and if you're better trained and closer to your genetic potential than the others, you'll have an easy time.

However, at the cat-1/2/pro level, and perhaps the 3s, you can assume that they're all darn close to their genetic limits, it's all in the brains after that. You need the tactical awareness and strategic cunning of a chess grandmaster. You gotta be able to see 3-4 moves ahead and come up with counter-measures for all the possible contingencies. Then when something happens in the pack, you'll know which is the best response. Heck, I've seen hell-ass strong guys in the 3s wallow for years because they never learned to follow a single wheel closely and smoothly. Skill and mental-acuity is something you learn and develop, what percentage of that is genetic I have no idea.

The stratgies occurs on a team level as well with multiple riders coordinating maneuvers. Outside of genetics, training, support and funding, you gotta have brains too.

The Convert is right to place racing acumen in the genetics category.
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Old 07-20-07, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ratebeer View Post
The Convert is right to place racing acumen in the genetics category.
Yeah, the latest research seems to show that intelligence has a higher genetic component than previously thought. However, very few people ever learn racing skills, tactics and strategies to their fullest potential. I'm not sure what it is, maybe some sort of brain-fog with the adrenaline flowing.

It's not hard to follow these instructions:

1. follow THAT wheel only
2. if he goes left, you go left
3. if he goes right, you go right
4. if he speeds up, you speed up
5. if he slows down, you slow down.
6. sprint around him at the end of the race.

Find the guy that will get 2nd place behind you and just do this to win the race. Simple.
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Old 07-20-07, 06:30 PM
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You could argue that whatever level you make it to, your Genetics were adequate for. Often dedication is misdirected, and it takes a long time to find the training and racing techniques that allow you to reach that potential. Some are lucky or well coached and reach it more quickly, some of us take a long and winding path to that genetic limit.
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Old 07-21-07, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
"... what level could a typical, new, late-20s bike racer reach if he had unrestricted time and funds to apply? In other words, his only limitations were luck and genetics. To deal with the luck variable, let's assume he races every weekend all season long. What's your answer to that question? ..."

He would reach whatever level his physiology permitted. For some people, they might never get beyond cat 5, others would win the TDF
You only have to start 10 races to get to 4. Literally anyone could do that.
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Old 07-21-07, 07:26 PM
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Genetics #1, far and above everything else.

Tyler Hamilton - skier, rode a bike in sneakers, probably not doping at the time. Did his local TT, first time out, and broke the course record, and he was in a cycling hotspot. The locals wondered if he'd cut the course. But he did it again and they realized he was the real deal.

Lemond - ever read how he started? "I did such and such race when I was 14. I won. So I did such and such race with the Seniors. I won. etc etc". Not a lot of racers with that kind of talent.

When I was 17 I did a Junior race. Kid went off the front, went some insane speed, rode away from the field on his own. He was 14. Then he did the 2/3 race and worked his butt off for his Senior Fuji teammates. His name? Frank McCormack. We figured we'd hear great things from that kid.

One really good Junior (when I was a Junior) slayed all, his name was Pat. He was like George Hincapie (who raced around here) before Hincapie meant George and not Richard Hincapie. He raced for Mengoni (as did Lemond and Bauer to name two) and quit after he had back problems. About 5 years later we were going out for a ride from school (UCONN, Cat 3's and 4's) and a guy on a mountain bike, sneakers, and a backpack full of books (it was almost bursting) asked if he could tag along. He rode our 20 mile ride with us. I didn't recognize him without his helmet/kit but it was that Junior, Pat. His younger teammate, after taking 10 or so years out of the sport, is a 2 after a couple years back, and able to destroy fields.

Genetics is by far the most important thing when determining the potential (at a local level) of a racer. Ask a sprinter to climb. Ask a climber to sprint. It just doesn't work. Nature doesn't work like that. You can't overcome your genetics and turn a Boonen into a Rasmussen or a Rasmussen into a Cancellara. It simply doesn't happen. Get a sprinter who hasn't looked at a bike for a year and he'll still be able to beat you 150 yards down the road. (A guy who stopped riding for a couple years rode with me and challenged me to a race to a garbage can - to my shock and horror he beat me - and my only strength is my jump!).

I think a genetically talented racer can easily go to Cat 2 with not too much specific training - just racing enough to get points. I've watched guys go to Cat 2 in a year and they make it look easy. They don't have to race too smart either - they're so strong they can do anything in a 3 race and still make the break or place top 3 in a sprint.

After that, it's another level of genetics, it's a bit more of using your head, and a bunch of other stuff.

one who doesn't have the genetics but tried training really hard for many years,
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Old 07-21-07, 10:35 PM
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This thread is seriously getting me down, it's like Gattaca.
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Old 07-22-07, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
Genetics #1, far and above everything else.
I respectfully disagree, unless you are talking about the level of good domestic pros and above. Clearly Pro Tour riders are genetic mutants, and I'd even say the same thing about the top domestic riders. But if you're talking about amateurs, say cat 2s and 3s, then... No Way is genetics #1.

Originally Posted by carpediemracing
Lemond - ever read how he started? "I did such and such race when I was 14. I won.
I don't need to read about Lemond. I was in his first race. Seriously, look it up. But you are right on the mark with him ...10-sigma genetic freak.


Originally Posted by carpediemracing
Genetics is by far the most important thing when determining the potential (at a local level) of a racer. Ask a sprinter to climb. Ask a climber to sprint. It just doesn't work. Nature doesn't work like that. You can't overcome your genetics and turn a Boonen into a Rasmussen or a Rasmussen into a Cancellara.
Again, totally agree for Pro Tour riders. At amateur levels, there are plenty of fast-twitch guys who train their asses off and do make it over the hills. And vice versa... endurance/climber guys who put in the sprint-training time and then do pretty well in bunch finishes, to some extent because their aerobic fitness is good enough to be near the front at the end. Maybe they don't win, but they place and they upgrade.

Originally Posted by carpediemracing
I think a genetically talented racer can easily go to Cat 2 with not too much specific training - just racing enough to get points.
Yes, but it's also true that genetically average people can make it to Cat 2 (and above) by putting in enough quality training, and by racing a lot. A huge part of upgrading is doing enough races so that the dice roll your way occasionally. And yes, you have to race smarter than the genetically gifted people.

To me, the issue is that too many people blame their genetics as the reason they plateau in bike racing at a level of, say, Cat 3 or 4. In reality, the main reason is that they only train 5-10 hours a week, and half of that time is wasted chit-chatting on group rides or cruising along at low heartrates. Then they only race once or twice a month. It's not near enough, so it's wrong to blame genetics.

A genetically average person can certainly make it to Cat 2 (or above) by training 10-20 hours a week, and racing 3-4 weekends a month. Plus, and this is key, he/she has to do that for several years in a row.
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