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usa cycling road categories

Old 05-29-12, 09:42 PM
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usa cycling road categories

yes, i've read the rulebook. since i am not at and never will achieve cat 1 status, here's a question for the wise ones on this forum: in a field of usa cycling road cat 1's, the average tdf/giro/vuelta pro rider would likely
1) dominate the cat 1's
2) perform about average
3) (doubt this is the right answer) be at the bottom of the pack
TIA.
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Old 05-29-12, 10:25 PM
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I believe somebody here posted a report of a couple Radioshack guys sitting in on a crit and lapping the field.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:12 AM
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The "average" ProTour rider is so good it's ridiculous.

We have a P123 race in Bethel in the spring, short 150m hill, not very steep, otherwise a wide course that is usually hit with wind. It's reasonably hotly contested as there is prize money etc. One day a domestic pro team showed up (sponsors were a couple towns over) with ONE of their "good" riders.

The one "good" rider basically started riding at the gun. Everyone followed.

On the first lap he had 5 guys on his wheel, including the 2002 bronze medalist at the Elite (i.e. pro/am) National Road Race. He'd dropped everyone else. I believe (don't remember) that everyone on his wheel were Cat 1s or 2s.

On the second lap he had 1 guy on his wheel, the 2002 bronze medalist, a guy who was in form, who had in recent years soloed away from a P12 race (including Grame Miller and Jeff Rutter, both domestic pros). He's phenomenally strong.

On the third lap the 2002 bronze medalist had exploded. The one pro rider was on his own.

He lapped the field solo in 10 or 12 laps, never looking stressed. The field was going bonkers trying to chase him but they only managed to make the pro look even more powerful, even more smooth.

Of course he wins the race.

Fast forward a bit, to the Tour of Georgia that year.

That one "good" pro? He was so bad compared to everyone else that the only way he could get any TV time was to get into a suicidal solo break for something like 100 km. He was nowhere in the results, none of his team had anything. They weren't even in the game.

The guys that were winning the Tour of Georgia are good, okay, but at their fitness level, at that time, they would have been considered weak if they had to enter the Tour at that moment.

Recently, like last year, Bobby Sweeting (Kenda/5 HR) did the same race. Kenda is a domestic pro team, so they struggle to get invitations to Tour of CA and such, and when they do, they consider a 3rd place on a stage a success. Sweeting is good but he has teammates who are stronger. Well, at Bethel he lapped the P123 field on his own. I asked him if he ever gets sick of winning. He laughed in response. "Dude, when I race the big races, no offense, I'm everyone else's b****." He said it is so hard when the ProTour racers are around it's ridiculous, and he's a phenomenal rider for around here.

Someone somewhere got a bunch of power readings and said that the difference between a Cat 5 and a Cat 1 is smaller than the difference between a Cat 1 and a ProTour rider. As good as a Cat 1 seems to a brand new racer, that Cat 1 is weaker by even more to a ProTour rider.

Someone else came up with the notion of comparing outputs to a pro. So if a pro can hold 500w for an hour (or something insane like that), how long can you be a pro? My best ever minute power is 587w (it was not intentional, I was trying to stay up front in a crit and sat up when I blew up half a lap to go). If I do a massive, massive effort, it's something like 450w for me, like sprinting super hard etc. So I can time trial next to a pro for about 60 seconds, then I'm dropped. If I had 60 of me and we did a relay time trial parallel to a pro, we'd be hard pressed, 60 of us, to beat a good time trialing ProTour rider.

ProTour riders are paid money for a reason. They have incredible talent, they ride insane miles, and they are super super fast. For some real numbers etc go to Strava, get an account (there are free versions), then follow the "lessor" pros like Ted King. I figured out that based on my training through May something this year, I would need 10 years to replicate what Ted King has done in 5 months. I'm a fan of Ted King's but he's not a dominating pro, he's a good solid domestique who should be able to pull some wins out here and there. He didn't make the Giro team, for example, instead doing the much shorter Tour of California (granted he's American and he races for Cannondale etc but still, if he was super super good he'd have been leading the team in CA or been assigned to help in the Giro).

etc etc
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Old 05-30-12, 05:14 AM
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Oh and this year a Team Type 1 guy showed up with his training partner. They rode away from the P123 field (no Sweeting in it, just a bunch of Cat 1s) and didn't lap the field just to keep the paperwork easy. They too made it look easy.
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Old 05-30-12, 07:05 AM
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This year's Swamp Classic circuit race, Phil Gaimon (domestic pro for Kenda, and columnist in Velonews) rode off the front of the P1,2,3 race solo pretty easily.

Gaimon is obviously a strong rider, but he's not likely to be in the TDF any time soon.
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Old 05-30-12, 07:30 AM
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I'm always amazed to see the cat 1 guys that I ride with and some times race 1/2/3 races with get blown away by some of the heavy hitters that show up to some of the bigger races. It kinda makes you want to just give it all up really It's humbling to say the least. Some of these cat 1's over here that are ridiculously strong to me can't even finish an amateur kermesse. Equally cool to see is a pro tour guy show up to a local yocal road race and have some new kid on the block give him a real run for his money. I've had the pleasure of witnessing that in the past.
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Old 05-30-12, 07:53 AM
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Thanks. This has been very informative!
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Old 05-30-12, 10:50 AM
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Just followed Ted King on Strava as carpediemracing suggested

5 min Power 821 W
10 min Power 626 W

I think I just picked my jaw off the floor!

His 5 minute power is more than 3 times mine, his 10 minute power is over 3 times mine. I couldn't ride at the pro level even though I strapped the U.S.S Enterprise to my ass.
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Old 05-30-12, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by baiskeli
Just followed Ted King on Strava as carpediemracing suggested

5 min Power 821 W
10 min Power 626 W

I think I just picked my jaw off the floor!

His 5 minute power is more than 3 times mine, his 10 minute power is over 3 times mine. I couldn't ride at the pro level even though I strapped the U.S.S Enterprise to my ass.
I doubt that those are his real power levels and not just stravas "power estimates". Ted King is strong, but no one is that level of strong.
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Old 05-30-12, 11:34 AM
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A few years ago when he was on Predictor-Lotto, Chris Horner was staying in Cool to train for the World Championships. On Saturday morning he rode 45 miles down the hill, slaughtered the River Ride, and rode 45 miles back up the hill. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Hardly broke a sweat.
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Old 05-30-12, 12:37 PM
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To be contrary, I'm a not very good Cat 3, and the one TT I've done with Pro Tour level riders was in the Tour of the Bahamas. Floyd Landis set a course record, and only beat me by a minute and change.











Unfortunately the TT was a bit under 3 miles.
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Old 05-30-12, 12:54 PM
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Great post CarpeDiem. I have never seen it put into perspective like that.

Now I will definitely re-dedicate myself to simply enjoying the ride rather than ever pretending, even for a tenth of a second, that I will ever, in five lifetimes, be in the ballpark of remotely fast.
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Old 05-30-12, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
To be contrary, I'm a not very good Cat 3, and the one TT I've done with Pro Tour level riders was in the Tour of the Bahamas. Floyd Landis set a course record, and only beat me by a minute and change.
I know you were saying this a little tongue in cheek but it does highlight the fact that it depends. It's very unlikely that Purito (57kg) could ride a strong, 85kg Cat 3 off his wheel in a crit. He would not win many crits against Cat 1's either.
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Old 05-30-12, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83
I know you were saying this a little tongue in cheek but it does highlight the fact that it depends. It's very unlikely that Purito (57kg) could ride a strong, 85kg Cat 3 off his wheel in a crit. He would not win many crits against Cat 1's either.
Don't know if I'd go so far as to say that.
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Old 05-30-12, 01:29 PM
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As a new Cat 5, I actually don't find this all that surprising. First, I’ve found that Cat 5s, as the gateway to racing, contain riders of all abilities including some very strong riders (as far as amateurs go). Additionally, some of the higher cat riders do not always keep in top form once they reach their cat 1/2 status.

I've now overheard higher cat racers in several races this year remark at the expensive equipment and fit, aggressive riders entering the Cat 5 ranks lately. Maybe guys who are accomplished in other sports (running, tris, etc.) are turning their competitive sights to road racing more frequently. I dunno. That's not to say that a huge fitness and (especially) skill gap doesn't exist between the average Cat 5 (like me) and the average Cat 1/2/3. However, the one limiter that most of these riders have in common is the need to share training time with a paying job, and defer training resources to other life needs.

By contrast, pro riders' lives are dedicated to little besides training to become a better racer. They are surrounded by the best trainers, provided the best equipment, are pushed by the best competition and have lives structured to optimize training time. Even leaving the talent/genetics issues aside, they should be significantly better than amateurs.

One neat thing about racing is that I can now better recognize and appreciate the insane effort unleashed by pro riders when I watch their races on TV. I cramp up and bonk just watching them.

Last edited by goose70; 05-30-12 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 05-30-12, 01:58 PM
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I will stick to MUP racing, quietly claiming the podium in my head as I pass the BMX dudes in their droopy pants and crooked hats. That is stereotyping, but you know I'm right

Great post, carpe. This post makes all of my tongue-in-cheek 41 brags even funnier and more ludicrous.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:08 PM
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I've been in a position where I dedicated a huge portion of my time to training. I wasn't working and I didn't have much responsibility otherwise. I never got that good. I mean, okay, for a Cat 3, fine, but not at a national level.

There are guys that can gain 100 lbs (like the aforementioned 2002 bronze medalist) and ride very little and he still has the basic stuff that made him good - a somewhat sustainable 500w time trial effort (just not for an hour). Add 100 lbs to his frame and he no longer can get away from everyone like he used to. But put him in a break and he can still really put the hurt down.

Talent, and I mean genetic talent, starts off a rider. After that it's developing said talent. Savvy counts for something but when it's down to raw strength, like in a climb or a time trial, being a clever rider won't save you much. Said rider's dad was a Cat 1 and his grandfather was a pro track rider. I don't know if that means anything but it certainly couldn't hurt.

I suspect that doping can take you a couple notches above your genetic talent level but it won't make a tops Cat 2 like myself a ProTour rider. People, teammates and friends even, have asked me why I don't just train more. In my "full time cyclist" year my FTP was about 260w. Now it's about 210w. Say I returned to my 260w FTP days, and bumped it up, say, 20%. Now I'm at 315w. That's 20w more than Floyd Landis when he bonked and lost 11 minutes on one climb. I'm still about 170w short of the sustained efforts that pros put out. In other words I have to improve my FTP by a whopping 50%, after I've already bumped my FTP up 20%.

Most riders look for 1-5% increases in FTP, and a significant one would be 10%. 20% would be tantamount to doping. To increase my current FTP by 140%? Yeah, right. I doubt even an intense doping regiment would get me to be able to hold 475w up an hour climb. I can barely do that for 60 seconds, let alone 60 minutes.

My usual reply to such inquiries about me training more (typically made by non-sprinters) is to ask them why they don't work on their sprint and bump it up to 1500w or 2000w. It's just a matter of doing some lifting, right? For sure it would make winning races much easier if they could dump a 1500w sprint at the end of a hilly road race, and since they've trained themselves to have a 2000w jump, a 1500w one should be easy.

Just go out and do it.

"Oh. I see what you're saying."

Unlike my FTP limitations I have a reasonable jump (not great, reasonable). I don't work on my sprint and I can break 1300w peak basically whenever I want, and a good sprint for me is 1500+w (in races, due to fatigue, I rarely break 1250w peak). To me these numbers don't mean anything special. I don't train for them and they happen all the time. On the other hand I've spoken to a national track level racer and his max wattage is 2600w and he can sustain some insane power for 20 seconds (I want to say 1900w but it maybe only 1500w).

This kind of subdued my track aspirations
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Old 05-30-12, 05:14 PM
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It's like comparing yourself to an MLB superstar pitcher who throws @ 100 mph. How fast can you throw, even if you're a great college pitcher? 85 mph? How fast can most high school guys throw? 70-80mph? It's kind of like that.
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Old 05-30-12, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by kv501
Don't know if I'd go so far as to say that.
An avg Cat 3 would have around 4 W/kg which at 85kg would be 340W FTP. Tour pros are around 6W/kg. A 57kg pro would be around 342W which is not enough to ride a 340W guy off your wheel. I think the highest pros are maybe 6.7W/kg which still isn't enough. You need to be around 30% higher for some duration to ride someone off your wheel.
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Old 05-30-12, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83
I know you were saying this a little tongue in cheek but it does highlight the fact that it depends. It's very unlikely that Purito (57kg) could ride a strong, 85kg Cat 3 off his wheel in a crit. He would not win many crits against Cat 1's either.
Interestingly I just chatted with a pro who races in Europe about this and he said exactly the opposite. That a guy like Purito has to do Cat 1 type work simply to be in the pro peloton on a typical flat Tour stage and that guys like Cavendish can climb like your average Cat 1. The problem is that we see and hear about them in the context of the best in the world so we think of them being that way in cycling in general.

Originally Posted by patentcad
It's like comparing yourself to an MLB superstar pitcher who throws @ 100 mph. How fast can you throw, even if you're a great college pitcher? 85 mph? How fast can most high school guys throw? 70-80mph? It's kind of like that.
Actually great college pitchers are easily throwing in the 90's. As a matter of fact the list of the top 25 pitching prospects for the 2012 draft includes 25 pitchers who regularly throw in the 90's, many of them in the mid and upper 90's. That includes anyone eligible including high school and college players.
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Old 05-30-12, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by baiskeli
Just followed Ted King on Strava as carpediemracing suggested

5 min Power 821 W
10 min Power 626 W

I think I just picked my jaw off the floor!

His 5 minute power is more than 3 times mine, his 10 minute power is over 3 times mine. I couldn't ride at the pro level even though I strapped the U.S.S Enterprise to my ass.
I just followed him too, I was in greenville this weekend to watch him fly up Paris mountain...24.6 avg for the whole race...CRAZY!
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Old 05-30-12, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by goose70
As a new Cat 5, I actually don't find this all that surprising. First, I’ve found that Cat 5s, as the gateway to racing, contain riders of all abilities including some very strong riders (as far as amateurs go). Additionally, some of the higher cat riders do not always keep in top form once they reach their cat 1/2 status.

I've now overheard higher cat racers in several races this year remark at the expensive equipment and fit, aggressive riders entering the Cat 5 ranks lately. Maybe guys who are accomplished in other sports (running, tris, etc.) are turning their competitive sights to road racing more frequently. I dunno. That's not to say that a huge fitness and (especially) skill gap doesn't exist between the average Cat 5 (like me) and the average Cat 1/2/3. However, the one limiter that most of these riders have in common is the need to share training time with a paying job, and defer training resources to other life needs.

By contrast, pro riders' lives are dedicated to little besides training to become a better racer. They are surrounded by the best trainers, provided the best equipment, are pushed by the best competition and have lives structured to optimize training time. Even leaving the talent/genetics issues aside, they should be significantly better than amateurs.

One neat thing about racing is that I can now better recognize and appreciate the insane effort unleashed by pro riders when I watch their races on TV. I cramp up and bonk just watching them.
its more like people doing what I'm doing...i'm going to train for another solid year and start racing. I'm by no means strong, but I'm not weak either. I ride with some really strong people and manage to keep up and pull at their level, I just need to get to where I can do it longer...I want to be able to maintain a break away and actually win some races. Some people get in almost as soon as they start riding, some people wait years before their first race. Either way, they start out as a cat 5.
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Old 05-31-12, 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by 18hockey
Interestingly I just chatted with a pro who races in Europe about this and he said exactly the opposite. That a guy like Purito has to do Cat 1 type work simply to be in the pro peloton on a typical flat Tour stage and that guys like Cavendish can climb like your average Cat 1. The problem is that we see and hear about them in the context of the best in the world so we think of them being that way in cycling in general.
I can't say that I'm a "strong" crit rider, but if my short excursion to Belgium was any experience, riding against the guys that weren't good enough to be pros... well let's just say they were frickin' fast. In the last few years I have yet to hit the same speeds on the flats as I hit in the flat races I did in Belgium, and I was getting dropped in the first lap of every race but one!

https://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...kermesses.html

I don't know this guy from Adam but Timothy Gudsell won a hotly contested Tour of Somerville in 2011 (last time I was there). I never heard of him before, but he raced for Les Francaise des Jeux for 4 years. When he won he was racing for Pure Black Racing. He got into various breaks, did some pulls, all sorts of stuff. I knew some of the other guys in the race and they're tough, savvy racers; one got 8th or something in a season long series in SoCal, racing solo against a bunch of pro riders based in the area (Jelly Belly, UHC, Kodak, etc). When Gudsell launched his winning move, holy smokes. It looked like he'd been playing the whole day, playing "bike racer" with the others like a dad would "play chess" or "throw a fastball" with his 4 year old child. He just killed it at Somerville, and that's not a small race for the domestic pro teams - they were all there, all desperate for a big win. He totally schooled them. I was astonished at his strength until someone nearby said, "Yeah, he used to race for FDJ."

If you look at his career at FDJ he wasn't setting the world on fire. Yes, he had some good results, but when you look at Grand Tour stuff, as the OP had said originally... On the other hand, if you read the post above about Belgium, you'll know that any result in a stage race is significant, and Gudsell has a few to his credit.

I can't speak for Purito but the ProTour guys wouldn't be sitting around waiting for the sprint in a crit (Gudsell soloed the last couple laps of Somerville), and if that domestic pro at Bethel was any sign, they'd just whittle away at the others until they were free. As far as climbing goes, in the mid 90s a reasonable level amateur from Switzerland (Cat 1 level) said he's best in 8-10 km climbs (5-6 miles). But it's all relative he said, laughing. He was in a pro-am race feeling pretty good about himself on the climbs (they were in his ideal range) when he looked to his side. It was Olaf Ludwig next to him, the sprinter from East Germany, the "guy that can't climb".

The Strava numbers for many of the pros are inaccurate - they're calculated. However if you watch a live feed of the Tour or something, often they'll show selected pros' heartrates and power. I watched one stage of something (Tour of CA?) where they showed Jens Voigt pulling like he normally does. I think his HR was in the 140 range and he was putting down 400-ish watts. So he's loafing along and doing what I can barely do for 60 seconds.

Allan Peiper (DS for... Garmin?) was a favorite for TV interviews in the Tour back in the day. He spoke English, he wasn't too obnoxious, had a good sense of humor. He's always been a domestique type rider, hoping for an opportunist win but otherwise relegated to a worker (he has his fair share of stage wins and semi-classic podiums). At the time HR monitors were pretty new so everyone was curious what everyone else's HRs were. He said that he was riding next to Chiapucci when the field was trundling along at a good speed (Peiper raced for Tulip at the time, so early 90s). Chiapucci said something about Peiper's HR monitor so Peiper looked at Chiapucci's. Peiper said his HR was 160, Chiapucci's was something like 98. Even among the pros there's a huge difference in ability/fitness.
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Old 05-31-12, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83
An avg Cat 3 would have around 4 W/kg which at 85kg would be 340W FTP. Tour pros are around 6W/kg. A 57kg pro would be around 342W which is not enough to ride a 340W guy off your wheel. I think the highest pros are maybe 6.7W/kg which still isn't enough. You need to be around 30% higher for some duration to ride someone off your wheel.
Gross oversimplification.
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Old 05-31-12, 10:06 AM
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carp, thanks again for an interesting and enlightening post.
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