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Did the TdF Showcase the Value of Aero-Road Bikes?

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Did the TdF Showcase the Value of Aero-Road Bikes?

Old 07-24-23, 08:44 AM
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Did the TdF Showcase the Value of Aero-Road Bikes?

I'm referring specifically to what seemed like an inordinate number of breakaways that kept the peloton at bay for a long time despite being not that far out in front, and despite a hard hard-charging peloton. I realize that quantifying the benefits of various "aero" features is difficult in real world situations, but it occurred to me that maybe we're starting to see the accumulation of aero features finally cutting into the drafting advantage of the peloton to the point that the peloton's advantage is becoming less meaningful. If so, that would completely recalibrate tactics of road racing.

Discuss. (:
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Old 07-24-23, 08:48 AM
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I think aero frames do provide a benefit, but it's minimal. If all the riders have them then advantage is essentially zero. Anyway, I don't think the frames lead to successful brekaways, but better tactics did. And maybe some chemical help.
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Old 07-24-23, 09:08 AM
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I was paying more attention on the mountain stages. Some riders chose deep aero wheels, some less deep - but pretty much all of them were riding deep(er) section wheels. And Trek teams seemed to switch to the Emonda vs the Madone - so wheels seemed to be more important when climbing.

But if they are essentially all on aero frames - the breakaway shouldn't have any advantage on the flat stages.
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Old 07-24-23, 09:19 AM
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I'd imagine it comes down to tactics and who's in the break rather than the riders in the break having some magical bike that the riders in the peloton don't or the bikes all being so slippery that there's no added benefit from being in the draft as you seem to imply.
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Old 07-25-23, 08:15 AM
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The body on the bike is still an aerodynamic disaster. Drafting will never cease to be an assist.
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Old 07-25-23, 09:17 AM
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Yep, on further thought I agree with your responses. I actually do not have a particularly aero road bike (2017 Cannondale EVO) and occasionally obsess whether I need to get something more aero. I'm still inclined to keep what I have a while longer. I didn't notice that Trek switched to Emondas in the mountains. Interesting.
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Old 07-25-23, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by goose70
I actually do not have a particularly aero road bike (2017 Cannondale EVO) and occasionally obsess whether I need to get something more aero. I'm still inclined to keep what I have a while longer.
Is your Cannondale frame's lack of aero efficiency costing you places in competitive events?
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Old 07-25-23, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Steel Charlie
The body on the bike is still an aerodynamic disaster. Drafting will never cease to be an assist.
This ^^^ 100%.
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Old 07-25-23, 09:28 AM
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Answer: no.
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Old 07-25-23, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by goose70
Yep, on further thought I agree with your responses. I actually do not have a particularly aero road bike (2017 Cannondale EVO) and occasionally obsess whether I need to get something more aero. I'm still inclined to keep what I have a while longer. I didn't notice that Trek switched to Emondas in the mountains. Interesting.
Do you have the money to spend and a real desire? We can tell your spouse that the internet is telling you that you NEED a new super aero, super lightweight, super record-equipped bike if that's what you need.
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Old 07-25-23, 10:05 AM
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Not aero bikes specifically, but aero everything for third-week breakaways:

The theory (and it isnít mine, but I tend to agree with it) goes like this: the power required to overcome aerodynamic drag is cubic to speed, meaning that the additional power (watts) required to go from 55 kph to 57 kph is significantly greater than it is to go from 53 kph to 55 kph, though both are increases of 2 kph. Simplified heavily, that means that if the breakaway can go a bit faster than before, then the chase has to go even faster than that, and the power increase required to hit the new speed is greater than the power increase for the break to hit its new speed. At some point, you run up against whatís possible on tired legs, two and a half weeks into a Grand Tour.
https://escapecollective.com/oops-said-the-sprinters/
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Old 07-25-23, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
Is your Cannondale frame's lack of aero efficiency costing you places in competitive events?
No more so than the aerodynamics of my Prius is causing me to win drag races. (:
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Old 07-25-23, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by surak
Not aero bikes specifically, but aero everything for third-week breakaways:


https://escapecollective.com/oops-said-the-sprinters/
​​​​
OK, this is getting at the gist of what I was suspecting although stated much more clearly than anything my brain could come up with. Thanks for posting.
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Old 07-25-23, 11:37 AM
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Aero changes the average speeds but doesn't make a big difference in the politics and gambles of breakaways. The riders going away have the legs to get the gap and feel they can put out sufficient power. They do this for a variety of reasons. To maybe win or place. To gather KOM points or sprint points and money, To be seen - for their sponsor and spend time on TV (this is after all their job). To be seen and land a job for next year.

The peloton - so many dynamics here it is tough to sum them up. The GC teams - is there somebody in that break they need to keep close? Yes and some of the key domestiques of the lead teams on GC may be doing long basically time trials with 180 riders on their wheel to keep that break within a minute or two. No and they may well be quite happy watching that break go 10 minutes up the road; in fact so far that no one even dreams of going after it. Makes their lives a whole lot easier. Sprint teams are interested in that break being caught before the finish, preferably with as little work as possible from them.

The gambles - the break attemptors spend a lot of energy trying to get that break formed and away. Then burn a whole lot of calories to sustain it. They gamble that the peloton will let them and that it will be worth the expenditure. The GC teams gamble that the break will (if it contains no one who is a treat to GC) will dampen chases - a fairly good bet - and that the break will stay within a time difference that is not threatening.

The famous TdF that Floyd Landis "won" was a fascinating study in breakaways. Oscar Piero (sp), no threat in anybody's book, went away in a break that went up 17 minutes. Oops! The GC biggies and their teams got caught with their pants down. Days later Floyd blew up on the final climb and lost minutes. But he also worked a whole lot less than anybody else. Gambled the next day that the GC leaders would let him go on the opening two mountains as he was too far down to be a threat and there was an easy flat 20 mile stretch to reel him in. Floyd knew he could do a sustained TT at his limit for that 20 miles. Would that be good enough? Well, each of the three GC teams would want to play that gamble - "we'll do a little work but you guys need this just as much". Also that the three team captains and their sports directors wouldn't say to the team "We gotta work with the other two teams over that 20 miles like a big team time trail to pull Landis' lead down to less than two minutes". Floyd correctly gambled that wouldn't happen. Piero's team was weak. He/they had no business being in the yellow jersey except for that poor gamble of the three original podium sitting teams. But the second and third placing teams had a lot to lose. Gambled that others would do enough work and they could just focus on saving their reserves for the final mountain. Again - oops!

I watch that stage at Portland's French bakery that had the Tour running live on a widescreen. Told my table mate as the first two climbs were happening and Floyd was walking away that the three podium sitting DSs needed to be radioing their captains and telling them that team time trial was going to be needed and they had to start talking to their rivals. (Yes not entirely kosher under the rules, but cooperation between competitors is as old as bike racing. Look at the paceline of any breakaway.) Of course I had no idea what those DSs and team captains were saying and perhaps there was no radio coverage there - they were in the mountains. Flat ground time - a very strong rider of one of the key teams would put in a long hard pull, minutes would come off Floyd's lead, then he would pull off, no one would pull through, everyone slowed and Floyd's lead would stretch back out. This for the whole 20 miles. Every time the peloton slowed I told my table mate they were screwing up. Floyd had most of his biggest lead when he hit the final mountain and it was enough to win both the stage and the Tour.

So - that Tour was "won" by a rider who shouldn't have been there - and not because of the drugs but because teams gambled wrong. Second place went to someone who belonged even less and was only there because the peloton and key teams make a huge mistake.

Drugs, aero - they change the speeds but they don't change the dynamics of the game of bicycle racing very much. The core of the game is still the chess game played out at high speed by different pieces; sprinters, rouleurs, climbers ... As long as your aero (or drugs) are roughly on par with your competitors, it is all about the chess game. (I care very little about aero. Yeah, it's neat and in my younger days I was fascinated by airplane wings, sailboat sails and foils. Studied them in college. Still have and use the bible "Theory of Wing Sections" by Abbott and Van Duenhof. But bike racing? I enjoy watching racing on steel bikes at the velodrome just as much as the newest winged wonder at the Tour. The chess game where the pieces are finely tuned human bodies.
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Old 07-25-23, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by surak
Not aero bikes specifically, but aero everything for third-week breakaways:


https://escapecollective.com/oops-said-the-sprinters/
​​​​
I wrote my piece above with the "oopses" of letting the two top podium sitters go before I opened that link and saw the sprinters' "oops"! Yup. The chess game. Bike races are won with mind and body. Drugs help. Aero helps. Bike techno helps. But as long as your bike and drugs are in the ballpark of what others are using, they are not what wins you races.

Third week strength - the winter of miles and races, staying away from crashes, doing a good Tour build-up, then riding smart. Making the first half of splits and sparing your body hard chases. Staying in shelter and on wheels (without angering opponents). Making alliances within the peloton to have assistance from competitors when needed. (You only have 8 teammates and they cannot always be around. Some riders didn't do this at all, others - Alberto Contador for one - were masters at acquiring good will for use later.) Managing resources - sleep, food, water, body, mental effort. Dip a little too far into any of those and you will be paying that final week. And at the finish - a good lead-out train. Catching the right wheel. Timing the come-around and the bike throw. (We just watched the guy who arrived at the TdF finish first get beaten by a better bike throw.) Digging a little deeper. Or a lot deeper. And all this after playing the chess game and gambles right all day.
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Old 07-28-23, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
...
The famous TdF that Floyd Landis "won" was a fascinating study in breakaways. Oscar Piero (sp), no threat in anybody's book, went away in a break that went up 17 minutes. Oops! The GC biggies and their teams got caught with their pants down. Days later Floyd blew up on the final climb and lost minutes. But he also worked a whole lot less than anybody else. Gambled the next day that the GC leaders would let him go on the opening two mountains as he was too far down to be a threat and there was an easy flat 20 mile stretch to reel him in. Floyd knew he could do a sustained TT at his limit for that 20 miles. Would that be good enough? Well, each of the three GC teams would want to play that gamble - "we'll do a little work but you guys need this just as much". Also that the three team captains and their sports directors wouldn't say to the team "We gotta work with the other two teams over that 20 miles like a big team time trail to pull Landis' lead down to less than two minutes". Floyd correctly gambled that wouldn't happen. Piero's team was weak. He/they had no business being in the yellow jersey except for that poor gamble of the three original podium sitting teams. But the second and third placing teams had a lot to lose. Gambled that others would do enough work and they could just focus on saving their reserves for the final mountain. Again - oops!

I watch that stage at Portland's French bakery that had the Tour running live on a widescreen. Told my table mate as the first two climbs were happening and Floyd was walking away that the three podium sitting DSs needed to be radioing their captains and telling them that team time trial was going to be needed and they had to start talking to their rivals. (Yes not entirely kosher under the rules, but cooperation between competitors is as old as bike racing. Look at the paceline of any breakaway.) Of course I had no idea what those DSs and team captains were saying and perhaps there was no radio coverage there - they were in the mountains. Flat ground time - a very strong rider of one of the key teams would put in a long hard pull, minutes would come off Floyd's lead, then he would pull off, no one would pull through, everyone slowed and Floyd's lead would stretch back out. This for the whole 20 miles. Every time the peloton slowed I told my table mate they were screwing up. Floyd had most of his biggest lead when he hit the final mountain and it was enough to win both the stage and the Tour.

So - that Tour was "won" by a rider who shouldn't have been there - and not because of the drugs but because teams gambled wrong. Second place went to someone who belonged even less and was only there because the peloton and key teams make a huge mistake.

Drugs, aero - they change the speeds but they don't change the dynamics of the game of bicycle racing very much. The core of the game is still the chess game played out at high speed by different pieces; sprinters, rouleurs, climbers ... As long as your aero (or drugs) are roughly on par with your competitors, it is all about the chess game. (I care very little about aero. Yeah, it's neat and in my younger days I was fascinated by airplane wings, sailboat sails and foils. Studied them in college. Still have and use the bible "Theory of Wing Sections" by Abbott and Van Duenhof. But bike racing? I enjoy watching racing on steel bikes at the velodrome just as much as the newest winged wonder at the Tour. The chess game where the pieces are finely tuned human bodies.
Every last DS on the teams of the legitimate contenders should have been ingloriously sacked immediately following the 2006 TdF. They completely blew it on multiple stages.

Aero bikes? meh. I think that ITT specialists have improved dramatically over the last 10 years. Put a couple of them in a breakaway and catching them isn't the "given" that it used to be. Also, successful breakaways in the Tour usually occur in the 3rd week when domestiques have depleted much of their reserves.
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Old 07-28-23, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
The famous TdF that Floyd Landis "won" was a fascinating study in breakaways. Oscar Piero (sp), no threat in anybody's book, went away in a break that went up 17 minutes. Oops! The GC biggies and their teams got caught with their pants down. Days later Floyd blew up on the final climb and lost minutes. But he also worked a whole lot less than anybody else. Gambled the next day that the GC leaders would let him go on the opening two mountains as he was too far down to be a threat and there was an easy flat 20 mile stretch to reel him in. Floyd knew he could do a sustained TT at his limit for that 20 miles. Would that be good enough? Well, each of the three GC teams would want to play that gamble - "we'll do a little work but you guys need this just as much". Also that the three team captains and their sports directors wouldn't say to the team "We gotta work with the other two teams over that 20 miles like a big team time trail to pull Landis' lead down to less than two minutes". Floyd correctly gambled that wouldn't happen. Piero's team was weak. He/they had no business being in the yellow jersey except for that poor gamble of the three original podium sitting teams. But the second and third placing teams had a lot to lose. Gambled that others would do enough work and they could just focus on saving their reserves for the final mountain. Again - oops!
I think you're conflating memories of a couple of famous Tour stages. The only flat section in the latter half of stage 17 of the 2006 Tour was only about 7 miles in length, not 20 miles. See the race profile shown at around 2:05 in Chris Horner's unforgettably fascinating reminiscence of the stage, where he buried himself in support of his team leader, Cadel Evans.

Concerning the tactics of the other teams: Chris points out that all the teams were fried by that point in the Tour and that the riders were holding on for dear life, so not a lot of tactics involved. As he says, 100 riders failed to make the time cut on the previous, similarly hellish stage, but the Tour officials chose not to boot them out simply because doing so would have cut the field by over 50 percent.

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