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Technology, training, how much faster are the pros now VS then?

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Technology, training, how much faster are the pros now VS then?

Old 09-26-18, 08:49 AM
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canyoneagle 
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Technology, training, how much faster are the pros now VS then?

The facts, based on 5 fastest TDF ascents of Alpe d'Huez since 1982.

Also worth noting:
Average of pre 1997 (classic/non-carbon era) data points: 20.55 KPH
Average of post-1997 (modern era) data points: 20.421 KPH

Typical bike weight pre '97: 18-20 lbs
UCI limit (2018): 14.99 lbs

So........ the data suggests that riders have not gotten any faster, despite the advances in tech and training. Obviously, this is a climbing-centric sample.
It isolates more of the physiology (cyclist capacity, training influences) and bike weight and takes some of the aero out of the picture.
I think the aero effect will be a relevant part of the larger discussion, so some TT data would add some color to the conversation.

No agenda or trolling, but I do find it interesting.

Discuss.........



Chart source: https://wattmatters.blog/home/2018/7...imes-1982-2018
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Old 09-26-18, 09:01 AM
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I also find that interesting. Better training methods, nutrition, more gears, and bikes that are FIVE POUNDS lighter have done nothing to improve times up Alpe d'Huez?

There has to more to this story.
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Old 09-26-18, 09:07 AM
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Interesting discussion and data: great uncle pappy's cycling almanac: Tour de France: It Keeps Getting Faster at a Suspiciously Constant Rate

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Old 09-26-18, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Colnago Mixte View Post
I also find that interesting. Better training methods, nutrition, more gears, and bikes that are FIVE POUNDS lighter have done nothing to improve times up Alpe d'Huez?

There has to more to this story.
Definitely. I think it will be interesting to see what other stats and factors come into play to ensure it is not a "confirmation bias" situation.
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Old 09-26-18, 09:22 AM
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I wouldn't read in to it too much either way. Lots of stuff at play, but for one, the Pre-1997 average is buoyed by 3 of the fastest 4 ascents ever in '94, '95 & '97. It's probably worth nothing that Marco Pantani, no stranger to doping allegations, set the top 3 all-time individual times during those three years.
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Old 09-26-18, 09:23 AM
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There's more to winning than training and gear. You left out doping.
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Old 09-26-18, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I wouldn't read in to it too much either way. Lots of stuff at play, but for one, the Pre-1997 average is buoyed by 3 of the fastest 4 ascents ever in '94, '95 & '97. It's probably worth nothing that Marco Pantani, no stranger to doping allegations, set the top 3 all-time individual times during those three years.
Good point, but I would bet that all of the top 5's in all of those years were doping.
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Old 09-26-18, 09:31 AM
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Maybe I'm being overly-cynical, but my response would be, "When were top 10 riders in the Tour ever NOT doping?"
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Old 09-26-18, 09:34 AM
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Temperature and humidity could be significant factors, I think.
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Old 09-26-18, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Colnago Mixte View Post
Maybe I'm being overly-cynical, but my response would be, "When were top 10 riders in the Tour ever NOT doping?"
+1
I think the 50's marked the beginning of the trend
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Old 09-26-18, 09:39 AM
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Perhaps slightly surprising the modern era isn't discernibly faster with not only reduction in weight but improved aerodyanamics and advancements in bike tech aka more gears, improved handling, better brakes on descents etc.

So likely other factors at play as mentioned...in particular routes changing.
No question preponderance of doping skews the equation a bit. And there was the Lance era of very high tech doping.

But will add, to me and maybe you guys have experienced this riding with top flight riders, genetics rule the day. Sure the other stuff matters of course but speed just isn't that much different, the engine based upon evolution...the miniscule of history difference since modern man has been on the planet for 200K years...just hasn't changed that much in the past 50 years. Does anybody here doubt that Eddy Merckx or Greg Lemond or a host of other great riders of a bygone era wouldn't be great today?..even with the training regiments of decades past? I don't. They would be top riders in my opinion today. Genetics rule. They rode their @$$'s off to get in shape back then too.

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Old 09-26-18, 09:46 AM
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It's probably due to those riders in 2004 not using Strava...
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Old 09-26-18, 10:11 AM
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It keeps getting shorter at a suspiciously constant rate.
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Old 09-26-18, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
+1
I think the 50's marked the beginning of the trend
Yes, but a large part of that is that Alpe d'Huez was first used in the Tour in the 1950's.
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Old 09-26-18, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
Definitely. I think it will be interesting to see what other stats and factors come into play to ensure it is not a "confirmation bias" situation.
Which bias do you think is being confirmed?
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Old 09-26-18, 10:19 AM
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What surprises me is that people frame this kind of data as not showing changes.
Like, there's a whopping 1-2km/h increase in Alpe speeds that aligns exactly with when hemotocrit boosting is known to have been rampant in the pro peloton.
And for what it's worth, if you slice that era out and just look at the 80s versus recent years, recent years come in half a km/h faster. That's despite how the 80s times appear to be getting artificially boosted by only averaging the top 1-3 riders instead of the top 5 riders. The bike weight difference should account for a few tenths of km/h, which may leave a bit left over for other factors...

The overall TdF average speed progression is more dramatic. Today's winning speeds are several km/h faster than those circa 1980. That's a huge difference!

But another thing to consider is that this data doesn't isolate things down to the raw performance of bike and rider. The Tour de France is not a team time trial held on the same course every year; its rules and routes change over time, and so do the tactics. Races aren't won by going fast, they're won by going faster than the other guy. It's difficult to tell how different factors are influencing the data.
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Old 09-26-18, 10:35 AM
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As far as the 5 pound bike weight reduction, this is interesting:


Jim Gourley, a triathlete with an aerospace engineering degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy, tackles this topic in his book Faster: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed. In fact, he did the math to see just how much speed a cyclist can save with a lighter bike.


For starters, he estimates that switching from an entry-level road or hybrid bike with an aluminum frame to a top-of-the-line carbon racing bike with the lightest components on the market can save you about three pounds. Then he calculates how long it will take a cyclist riding four different bikes—15-, 16-, 17-, and 18-pounds—to get up a mile-long hill.

Even at the steepest grade he tested (7 percent), a one-pound difference between bikes only saves about 2.5 seconds—and the lightest bike only reaches the top 7.5 seconds faster than the heaviest one. "Over the course of an hours-long race, a few seconds per climb is not a significant advantage," he writes, at least not to an amateur cyclist or age-group triathlete. (If you're racing the Tour de France and are neck-and-neck with your competitors, that's another story.) And, it's worth noting, even these small advantages dissipate as the course gets flatter.
So 2.5 seconds per mile per pound times 5 = 15 seconds per mile saved. And since I remember Phil Liggett describing Alpe d'Huez colorfully as "the nine miles drunken road to nowhere", let's assume the climb is nine miles long. 9 x 15 seconds is 235 seconds or 3 minutes and 55 seconds.


If I made a mistake in my math, feel free to correct, it's my absolute worst subject.

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Old 09-26-18, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Which bias do you think is being confirmed?
I'm of the school of thought that bicycle weight makes little appreciable difference, and welcome data that demonstrates otherwise
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Old 09-26-18, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
I'm of the school of thought that bicycle weight makes little appreciable difference, and welcome data that demonstrates otherwise
For climbing which is the data presented here...or a large part, your thought is incorrect. Weight of a bicycle matters.

https://analyticcycling.com/ForcesLessWeight_Page.html
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Old 09-26-18, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
I'm of the school of thought that bicycle weight makes little appreciable difference, and welcome data that demonstrates otherwise
Way too many moving parts for these data points to provide any commentary on that.
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Old 09-26-18, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Colnago Mixte View Post
So 2.5 seconds per mile per pound times 5 = 15 seconds per mile saved. And since I remember Phil Liggett describing Alpe d'Huez colorfully as "the nine miles drunken road to nowhere", let's assume the climb is nine miles long. 9 x 15 seconds is 235 seconds or 3 minutes and 55 seconds.


If I made a mistake in my math, feel free to correct, it's my absolute worst subject.
2.5*5 is 12.5, not 15.
15*9 is 135, not 235.

12.5*9 is 112.5 seconds, less than half the figure you calculated.

Even 112.5 seconds is a large exaggeration, though. The 2.5 seconds per mile in the article was for a hypothetical recreational rider pedaling 200W, not a top-level professional climber racing for the glory of Alpe d'Huez. It takes much less time for a 300+W engine to move 5lbs uphill than a 200W engine.
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Old 09-26-18, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Sojodave View Post
It's probably due to those riders in 2004 not using Strava...
Or a much smaller % of riders after certain dates not being doped to the gills.

The tell-all books do what they say, they tell all. Lance won his seventh tour in 2005. There was still shady stuff between then and the coming out of retirement on teams.

So, I think the reason the modern times aren't somehow much faster.........they're actually clean or clean-er than back then.
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Old 09-26-18, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
I'm of the school of thought that bicycle weight makes little appreciable difference, and welcome data that demonstrates otherwise
Those two words are doing all the work there. Makes the claim unsolvable, unless the meaning of those words is defined first.
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Old 09-26-18, 11:42 AM
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Long live Pantani.

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Old 09-26-18, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
I'm of the school of thought that bicycle weight makes little appreciable difference, and welcome data that demonstrates otherwise
What does it take for you to appreciate a difference?
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