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Just how fit are these guys?

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  • josamejosame Posts: 1,052
    The difference between the body shape of Hinault and riders such as Andy Schlek ... leads me, in a way, to admire Hinaults achievements even more.
    'Do not compare your bike to others, for always there will be greater and lesser bikes'
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 20,502
    I think we re arguing the same side of the coin here BB...
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • ocdupalaisocdupalais Posts: 3,767
    Chris Newton used to ride with us sometimes, and he told us about how he was racing in France once. He'd been dropped along with a team mate when Beloki and another rider stopped (actually stopped) for a wee-wee. He thought they'd never get back on. Few minutes later they come soft tapping past telling Chris and his team mate to jump on. He said he couldn't even hold his wheel. This is from a World Champ and Olympic medalist. Frightening to mere mortals.

    This made me laugh.

    I was in a UK stage race with Newton and his GB team mates (including Wiggo and Tristan House, amongst others) some years back. On the rolling 4th stage (of 5 x 100 mile stages), we'd set off at a pretty fierce pace. We'd been lined out for about 20 minutes when a team mate managed to haul himself along side me. He gestured to his Polar which read 29mph. We were all battered. We agreed that this couldn't go on for much longer. At this point, Newton (with race leader House in tow) went screaming up the outside of the bunch (I hadn't noticed why they'd dropped back - probably a wee, like Beloki). There was a distinct dropping of heads and an audible groan above the panting (and frantic clicking in the search for the "right gear") from the riders around.

    The average for the stage was over 26 mph.

    I've always enjoyed hearing stories of riders (particularly elites or pro's) getting psyched out by someone else - it's good when it happens to others.

    My favourite is from an elite UK rider who was racing in Europe (Belgium, I think) for a few weeks in June one year in the early Noughties.
    I so hope it's true.
    He was at a mid-week chipper kermesse for the top local riders and a sprinkling of low-level pro's, when he heard a rumour that Ullrich was riding. He didn't believe it, and began joining in with the changing-room banter about how "fat-boy Jan" was too busy cramming Black Forrest Gateau in his, er... cake-hole, to consider doing their piddly race, etc. The chat continued with laughter about the photos of porky Ullrich earlier in the season.
    At this point, in walks a relaxed Jan The Man chatting with his brother (there as his assistant). He looked brown and had that ridiculous burned lower lip he always got at the Tour.
    There were some good startled faces; but most of the lads were trying to be cool about it. A low murmur prevailed; until, that is, when Ullrich suddenly stood up, stripped his top off and revealed the tell-tale mahogany stick-thin arms and puny white body combo.
    When the tracksuit bottoms came off and they caught sight of his legs, apparently, there was a hushed gasp! and an audible mish-mash of "censored !", "sh!t!" and "Godverdomme!"...
    This UK rider said "there were a lot of fit blokes there, but we all felt like a bunch of donkeys looking at a thorough-bred racehorse".
  • frenchfighterfrenchfighter Posts: 30,642
    Lol, that's a cool story - any idea how the race panned out?

    Anyone else got some similar anecdotes?
    Contador is the Greatest
  • cycling5280cycling5280 Posts: 279
    rather than the stronger climbers being able to decimate the field with all-day suffer-fests, attacking on the first big climb of the day and so forth.

    Doping or not doping it doesn't make sense tactically to attack on the first big climb of the day if you're riding for the GC. It's about conserving energy and calculating every move to win the overall. Ryder Hesjedal is a perfect example of that, Wiggins is clearly learning, Contador understands, Schlecks are dumb and even after a 10 year global witch hunt Armstrong proved it year after year.
  • BikingBernieBikingBernie Posts: 2,163
    rather than the stronger climbers being able to decimate the field with all-day suffer-fests, attacking on the first big climb of the day and so forth.

    Doping or not doping it doesn't make sense tactically to attack on the first big climb of the day if you're riding for the GC. It's about conserving energy and calculating every move to win the overall.
    Maybe today, but before people like Armstrong pushed the doping envelope with Epo and blood doping, and got their team mates to do likewise, so changing the whole nature of the sport, serious attacks on the first climb of the day by the big contenders were common. For example:

    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=40002&t=12789792&p=17080272

    As Armstrong's own doping meister has pointed out, it doesn't matter much any more how big your tank is, nowadays all that really matters is peak sustainable power which 'is relatively easy to “tweak”', and we all know what that is a euphemism for. :wink:
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 20,502
    AS an aside, I think part of the reason people are whinging about races today are that teams and riders have forgotten how to ride undoped...

    e.g. (maybe) Basso won the Giro tapping out a sustainably high speed, which worked BECAUSE he was doped to the gills...maybe...now he's normal again, he can't do it anymore
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • ocdupalaisocdupalais Posts: 3,767
    Lol, that's a cool story - any idea how the race panned out?

    Anyone else got some similar anecdotes?

    Apparently, Ullrich lined it out repeatedly over many laps, before pulling out with 2 to go. I've seen pro's do this before when they're in a lesser race for the training. Also, his brother said he'd done 200km that morning.


    As for anecdotes, I reckon Brian Smith (who occasionally graces these pages) will have some absolute belters. If it wasn't for those pesky defamation laws, we'd maybe get to hear them. Dave Harmon on Eurosport (and Sean Kelly... in fact, virtually anyone professionally connected to cycling) has undoubtedly got loads, too: I'm sure I can often hear him bursting at the seams to spill the beans...
  • ocdupalaisocdupalais Posts: 3,767
    ddraver wrote:
    I think part of the reason people are whinging about races today are that teams and riders have forgotten how to ride undoped...
    Or maybe just stuck in old habits?

    It's been said before, but using the old "level playing field" stance as the basis for conjecture (for the sake of argument, agreeing that they're either all doping: or they're all not doping), the differences amongst the lead riders at the end of the most brutal mountain stages are often relatively small. You see riders who have been "dropped" or have "blown" coming into the finish less than a minute down than the winner (often partly because they've left the frying-pan fight to the last few Km): if you've ever ridden the big mountains, you'll know what "blowing" can cost . All of the margins are getting smaller - the understanding of what's going on in the bodies of elite riders, scientifically, has moved from micro to nano technology: the weight advantages of this material over that: the aero qualities of these wheels over those...(ah! But what about the stiffness?!), etc. - all of this can diminish the romance/heroism.
    That's what I love about Cav - "Physiologically, no potential? Not able to put out enough watts to compete with the best?...Bo!!ocks! Have some of this..."
  • frenchfighterfrenchfighter Posts: 30,642
    edited October 2012
    ocdupalais wrote:
    Apparently, Ullrich lined it out repeatedly over many laps, before pulling out with 2 to go. I've seen pro's do this before when they're in a lesser race for the training. Also, his brother said he'd done 200km that morning.

    :shock:

    These guys are ridiculously good.
    Contador is the Greatest
  • cycling5280cycling5280 Posts: 279
    rather than the stronger climbers being able to decimate the field with all-day suffer-fests, attacking on the first big climb of the day and so forth.

    Doping or not doping it doesn't make sense tactically to attack on the first big climb of the day if you're riding for the GC. It's about conserving energy and calculating every move to win the overall.
    Maybe today, but before people like Armstrong pushed the doping envelope with Epo and blood doping, and got their team mates to do likewise, so changing the whole nature of the sport, serious attacks on the first climb of the day by the big contenders were common. For example:

    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=40002&t=12789792&p=17080272

    As Armstrong's own doping meister has pointed out, it doesn't matter much any more how big your tank is, nowadays all that really matters is peak sustainable power which 'is relatively easy to “tweak”', and we all know what that is a euphemism for. :wink:


    Agree to disagree on Armstrong doping. Until he is busted I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Might as well throw Wiggins, Ryder, Cancellara and De Gendt under the bus because they are surprisingly stronger and faster now yet you have no hard proof they doped. I find if difficult Armstrong didn't dope but at the same time I find it more difficult no one has a single piece of concrete evidence worthy of the court systems both in the U.S. and over in Europe to bust Armstrong.

    The sport is cleaner today and you will see the same tactics played out you believe Armstrong started due to doping. These tactics make sense to attack, gain the most amount of time without having to maintain that gap. Why would you attack early and get a 40 second gap only to have to maintain that for the next 100km? Why not go with 5km to go and achieve that 40 second gap just meters from the finish line? Makes sense to me. Armstrong started a lot of trends in the sport that is now standard and not because of doping. Before Armstrong no GC riders scouted the big climbs in the Tour like he did. Before Armstrong no one spent days and lots of resources in the wind tunnel to fine tune their TT position. Armstrong improved his diet and that of his team by bringing on personal chefs instead of eating the crappy French food at the hotels. Having a team chef is now standard practice for the top teams these days. If you can be a hater of Armstrong with all these claims and interviews but not a single piece of hard evidence then my guess is you're a hater of a lot of great cyclist.
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,648
    I'm afraid I don't really buy the whole argument that:

    "The best in the world at sport A are fitter than the best in the world at sport B".

    To be the best in the world at anything, those individuals have reached the highest possible level at a specific type of human achievement. Unless you define very carefully what you mean by 'fitness' then you can't really answer the question of who is 'fitter' - a world class marathon runner, a world class rugby full back, a world class distance swimmer, a world class cyclist, a world class decathlete or ...... ???
  • BikingBernieBikingBernie Posts: 2,163
    Agree to disagree on Armstrong doping. Until he is busted I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Might as well throw Wiggins, Ryder, Cancellara and De Gendt under the bus because they are surprisingly stronger and faster now yet you have no hard proof they doped.
    The thing is with the likes of Wiggins is that they haven't had half the people they have worked with, from riders to masseurs to doctors to mechanics all saying that they doped, as is the case with Armstrong. Nor has Epo been found in their samples, as is the case with Armstrong's. Nor has Wiggins had a long term relationship, kept secret for 6 years, with the most notorious doping doctor in the sport, as is the case with Armstrong. etc. etc. etc.

    In fact, there is so much evidence around that Armstrong doped that it is essentially irrational to argue that he didn't. I know that the most faithful of his disciples like to pull the old equivocation ruse. That is, "He has not been found guilty in a court, so he is 'innocent'", trying to imply that this means he innocent of doping in the first place, rather than the much more credible truth, which is that he did dope but simply hasn't been sanctioned for it.

    All I can say is that anyone who sincerely believes that Armstrong was clean must have some very deep personal reasons for keeping the faith even though, to paraphrase Mark Twain, 'Faith is believing what you know isn't true'. Perhaps like many, especially in the USA, you feel in tune with Armstrong because of the way he has exploited and fed anti-French xenophobia, born of ignorance and a hatred for anything that stands as a challenge to American neo-liberal 'values' (naturally I use the word loosely) hence you comment about "crappy French food". :roll:
  • cycling5280cycling5280 Posts: 279
    Agree to disagree on Armstrong doping. Until he is busted I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Might as well throw Wiggins, Ryder, Cancellara and De Gendt under the bus because they are surprisingly stronger and faster now yet you have no hard proof they doped.
    Thing is with the likes of Wiggins is that they haven't had half the people they have worked with, from riders to masseurs to doctors to mechanics all saying that they doped, as is the case with Armstrong. Nor has Epo been found in their samples, as is the case with Armstrong's. Nor has Wiggins had a long term relationship, kept secret for 6 years, with the most notorious doping doctor in the sport, as is the case with Armstrong. etc. etc. etc.

    In fact, there is so much evidence around that Armstrong doped that it is essentially irrational to argue that he didn't. I know that the most faithful of his disciples like to pull the old equivocation ruse. That is, "He has not been found guilty in a court, so he is 'innocent'", trying to imply that this means he innocent of doping in the first place, rather than the much more credible truth, which is that he did dope but simply hasn't been sanctioned for it.

    All I can say is that anyone who sincerely believes that Armstrong was clean must have some very deep personal reasons for keeping the faith, and to paraphrase Mark Twain 'Faith is believing what you know isn't true'.


    You have guys like Rasmussen and Valverde getting suspensions for not even testing positive but yet with ALL this 'evidence' against Armstrong nothing? Let me guess he paid off every single person who has anything on him and the UCI, WADA, the French prosecutors and American prosecutors. You're probably right. No deep personal reasons for me. I'm definitely not going to lose sleep if Armstrong if found truly guilty but he's clean in my book until that day comes. I'm also not going to rely on mechanics, former pissed off teammates, teammates' wives, other competitors, masseurs and doctors accusations unless of course they are willing to testify in a courtroom and be accountable for their words. Like I said agree to disagree. Just curious who else is on your radar as a doper?
  • BikingBernieBikingBernie Posts: 2,163
    You have guys like Rasmussen and Valverde getting suspensions for not even testing positive but yet with ALL this 'evidence' against Armstrong nothing? Let me guess he paid off every single person who has anything on him and the UCI...
    There is ample evidence that the UCI protected Armstrong, and they were effectively in his pocket from the moment they accepted that pre-dated medical certificate from him when he tested positive for steroids in the 1999 Tour. The UCI did this because he was vital to their plan to 'globalise' cycling, open up the American market and break the domination of the sport by what that other narrow-minded little Francophobe, Pat McQuaid, called 'the mafia European nations'.
    I'm also not going to rely on mechanics, former pissed off teammates, teammates' wives, other competitors, masseurs and doctors accusations unless of course they are willing to testify in a courtroom and be accountable for their words.
    Many have shown a willingness to do this already...
  • cycling5280cycling5280 Posts: 279
    You have guys like Rasmussen and Valverde getting suspensions for not even testing positive but yet with ALL this 'evidence' against Armstrong nothing? Let me guess he paid off every single person who has anything on him and the UCI...
    There is ample evidence that the UCI protected Armstrong, and they were effectively in his pocket from the moment they accepted that pre-dated medical certificate from him when he tested positive for steroids in the 1999 Tour. The UCI did this because he was vital to their plan to 'globalise' cycling, open up the American market and break the domination of the sport by what that other narrow-minded little Francophobe, Pat McQuaid, called 'the mafia European nations'.
    I'm also not going to rely on mechanics, former pissed off teammates, teammates' wives, other competitors, masseurs and doctors accusations unless of course they are willing to testify in a courtroom and be accountable for their words.
    Many have shown a willingness to do this already...


    Let me know when the ASO officially change their record books and take Armstrong's wins off. I believe it all at that point.
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,779

    Let me know when the ASO officially change their record books and take Armstrong's wins off. I believe it all at that point.

    Grand, does this mean you accept Andy Schleck won the 2010 TdF?
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • cycling5280cycling5280 Posts: 279
    iainf72 wrote:

    Let me know when the ASO officially change their record books and take Armstrong's wins off. I believe it all at that point.

    Grand, does this mean you accept Andy Schleck won the 2010 TdF?

    HAHA..Yes but not really. I don't believe in champions that don't believe in themselves. Andy doesn't think he won it so why should I? :)
  • slowsiderslowsider Posts: 197
    singleton wrote:
    I'm afraid I don't really buy the whole argument that:

    "The best in the world at sport A are fitter than the best in the world at sport B".

    To be the best in the world at anything, those individuals have reached the highest possible level at a specific type of human achievement. Unless you define very carefully what you mean by 'fitness' then you can't really answer the question of who is 'fitter' - a world class marathon runner, a world class rugby full back, a world class distance swimmer, a world class cyclist, a world class decathlete or ...... ???

    Yeah, That ^ Specificity innit ;)
    I'm old enough to remember watching 'Superstars' as a kid on TV, and looking forward to seeing how the pro cyclist got on. Dismally, as it turned out, iirc. Think it was Joop.
  • BikingBernieBikingBernie Posts: 2,163
    slowsider wrote:
    I'm old enough to remember watching 'Superstars' as a kid on TV, and looking forward to seeing how the pro cyclist got on. Dismally, as it turned out, iirc. Think it was Joop.
    Yes, cycling is a very specific exercise, but it is no wonder the cyclists performed poorly when they used to turn up with no preparation, just treating the competition as a rest day from their racing schedules on the bike. I am sure that I read that Poulidor was riding an after-Tour criterium the day after he appeared. Meanwhile many competitors - such as that judo player who introduced slippery toed shoes into the squat thrust competition - trained specifically for the competition for months on end.

    Chris Boardman did quite well when he took part, even in the gym tests. They should have let him ride the MTB event though, given that they let a runner do the run because 'it wasn't his distance'.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,658 Lives Here
    iainf72 wrote:

    Let me know when the ASO officially change their record books and take Armstrong's wins off. I believe it all at that point.

    Grand, does this mean you accept Andy Schleck won the 2010 TdF?

    HAHA..Yes but not really. I don't believe in champions that don't believe in themselves. Andy doesn't think he won it so why should I? :)

    He turned up to the ceremony for him to pick up the jersey...

    By your logic, someone could throw a motor on their bike and win, as long as they win 'on the road'. :roll:
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 4,040
    I have always thought rowing looks especially brutal. It is an all body exercise and they are also seated which means they can continiously train themselves to the point of collapse - which they seem to do regularly. The pain must be unimaginable.

    I think of all the sports I've seen the rowers look to be in the most pain at the end of a big race.

    All the top athletes in all the top sports are putting themselves through the grinder every day. Good luck to them all.
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  • ProssPross Posts: 24,248
    Yes, cycling is a very specific exercise, but it is no wonder the cyclists performed poorly when they used to turn up with no preparation, just treating the competition as a rest day from their racing schedules on the bike. I am sure that I read that Poulidor was riding an after-Tour criterium the day after he appeared. Meanwhile many competitors - such as that judo player who introduced slippery toed shoes into the squat thrust competition - trained specifically for the competition for months on end.

    Chris Boardman did quite well when he took part, even in the gym tests. They should have let him ride the MTB event though, given that they let a runner do the run because 'it wasn't his distance'.

    Was the bit in bold deliberate? :lol:

    In answer to Singleton's point, I think many have already differentiated between fitness and endurance. Fitness is very much sport specific (hence people who are physically fit being classed as not 'match fit') and will relate to the particular demands. For example a rugby player needs the sort of fitness to carry out short burts of effort over and over again whilst also not tiring as much as his opponents from the constant contact. Road cycling is all about endurance and recovery.
  • Ringo 68Ringo 68 Posts: 441
    One thing that impresses me about pro cyclists is the ability to recover from crashes and injuries.

    Take this years Giro. Cav crashing at top speed wearing nothing but a 1 micron thick bit of lycra, then picking his bike up and carrying it over the line. Or Taylor Phinney, who crashed on more than one occasion and could hardly walk but still battleling it out for the pink jersey.

    It puts proffessional footballers to shame.
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  • dougzzdougzz Posts: 1,833
    Ringo 68 wrote:
    One thing that impresses me about pro cyclists is the ability to recover from crashes and injuries.
    Take this years Giro. Cav crashing at top speed wearing nothing but a 1 micron thick bit of lycra, then picking his bike up and carrying it over the line. Or Taylor Phinney, who crashed on more than one occasion and could hardly walk but still battleling it out for the pink jersey.
    It puts proffessional footballers to shame.

    Complete censored mate. Footballers play act as part of cheating/stretching the rules, call it what you like. But you have no idea how many play through pain, what effort and sacrifice they make, not saying I do, but unless you do it you can't. People are always jealous of footballers because the salaries at the high end are extraordinary. Any sport can be described in a belittling way, oh that's kicking a ball or that's just riding a bike. How many of the cyclists would prefer to line up for Barcelona for £150K/week rather than cycle if that was an option for them, and then they'd be rolling round the floor faking injury like all the others. All this my sport is harder than yours is nonsense.
  • Ringo 68Ringo 68 Posts: 441
    I have been involved with a premiership club and I have seen first hand how hard they train and the work they put in.

    I remember walking through the gym at the training ground one evening, long after the players had finished and one of the midfielders was on a running machine going like the clappers. I remember thinking 'I bet he can't keep that up for long' I came back through about 40 minutes later and there he was, still going at the same rediculous pace with hardly a bead of sweat on him.

    I just think some put a lot more effort in than others and getting paid the money they do and the cost of tickets to the average Joe, I think some footballers take the p**s big time.

    Anyway, back to the cycling.
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  • ilovebigwigilovebigwig Posts: 118
    I have a decent amount of experience in and around pro football and there is a direct correlation between top class performances and top class conditioning. Obviously there are exceptions (Maradona etc) which don't need highlighting, but in general the most competitive, talented players, in particular midfielders, maintain phenomenal levels of fitness, for example Keane, Gerrard and Vieira of recent years.

    The only thing I would ever say against the fitness of cyclists is that due to the lack of impact, they can maintain extremely low body weights which adds considerably to their ability to increase endurance and recovery abilities.

    I would suggest that Ironman competitors kick a$$ the most.
  • Ringo 68Ringo 68 Posts: 441
    One thing about Gerrard, he smokes (or at least he used to)

    I wonder if any modern day top cycling pros enjoy the odd cigarette?
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  • ilovebigwigilovebigwig Posts: 118
    I would have thought so. Sheringham, Butt, Solksjaer and Phil Neville all used to occasionally as well, and Slavan Billic at Everton.
  • Coach HCoach H Posts: 1,287
    Here's one from left field; elite level strongmen.

    They may not be able to do time based endurance, mainly due to bodyweight, but I bet if you tested their lactate threshold per kilo you woud be surprised how 'technically' fit they were.

    Even though their efforts are over pretty low time periods those efforts are huge and when you compare the time periods to powerlifters they are pretty extreme.

    Maybe 20ish years ago a bodybuilder who was a recent finalist in that years Mr Olimpia (Tour De France of bodybuilding) and reputed to be the strongest competetive bodybuilder of his era entered Worlds Strongest Man. Whilst he did not manage to finish a single event (he was strong enough in some events, not all, but just not fit enough and was overwelmed by lactate very quickly) a few weeks later he finished the LA Marathon.
    Some are just lardy bulk monsters though :D
    Coach H. (Dont ask me for training advice - 'It's not about the bike')
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