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Wiggins using VAM

ratsbeyfusratsbeyfus Posts: 2,841
edited July 2012 in Pro race
Interesting article on/by Wiggins here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/jun/28/tour-de-france-2012-bradley-wigging
The numbers we have been working by this year on the road are not power output or speed, but VAM: Vertical Altitude Metres, or how quickly you gain height on a climb. That way it doesn't matter about power output, windspeed, the steepness of the climb or your speed: it's simply a matter of how fast you gain height vertically, as if you were in a lift, measured in metres per hour. The average VAM for a big climb on the Tour last year was 1,400m or 1,500m. When Alberto Contador attacked at Verbier in 2009 he was going at about 1,800m, which is similar to the figures Marco Pantani used to reach.

In the Dauphiné, on the Col du Joux-Plane on the penultimate day, we were climbing at about 1,700 VAM. There aren't many riders out there who can go that fast, and there weren't many able to stay with us on that stage. So that gives me confidence that physically I'm in the right place at the moment.

I don't know scientifically how valid it is to compare VAM figures from one rider to another on different days/courses, etc, but to me that comparison between Contador, Pantani and his own figures sounds like he's trying to tell the doping-doubters to shut it.


I had one of them red bikes but I don't any more. Sad face.

@ratsbey
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  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,776
    He's obviously using Strava :D
  • RundfahrtRundfahrt Posts: 551
    I do wonder at times if Sky does some things (or at least claims to do some things) just to be different.

    On another note this sounds like there is some concern about his climbing in the Sky camp.
  • Yellow PerilYellow Peril Posts: 4,466
    ratsbeyfus wrote:
    Interesting article on/by Wiggins here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/jun/28/tour-de-france-2012-bradley-wigging
    The numbers we have been working by this year on the road are not power output or speed, but VAM: Vertical Altitude Metres, or how quickly you gain height on a climb. That way it doesn't matter about power output, windspeed, the steepness of the climb or your speed: it's simply a matter of how fast you gain height vertically, as if you were in a lift, measured in metres per hour. The average VAM for a big climb on the Tour last year was 1,400m or 1,500m. When Alberto Contador attacked at Verbier in 2009 he was going at about 1,800m, which is similar to the figures Marco Pantani used to reach.

    In the Dauphiné, on the Col du Joux-Plane on the penultimate day, we were climbing at about 1,700 VAM. There aren't many riders out there who can go that fast, and there weren't many able to stay with us on that stage. So that gives me confidence that physically I'm in the right place at the moment.

    I don't know scientifically how valid it is to compare VAM figures from one rider to another on different days/courses, etc, but to me that comparison between Contador, Pantani and his own figures sounds like he's trying to tell the doping-doubters to shut it.

    that's strange because I read it the other way. To me he's saying Bertie is right up there with Pantani and we all know what that means. He then goes on to say about him (and others) climbing at 1700VAM so 1800VAM must be "something special"?

    To be honest I don't understand it surely how fast you gain height depends upon the course you follow to gain that height? so surely there must be variables
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  • ratsbeyfusratsbeyfus Posts: 2,841
    ratsbeyfus wrote:
    Interesting article on/by Wiggins here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/jun/28/tour-de-france-2012-bradley-wigging
    The numbers we have been working by this year on the road are not power output or speed, but VAM: Vertical Altitude Metres, or how quickly you gain height on a climb. That way it doesn't matter about power output, windspeed, the steepness of the climb or your speed: it's simply a matter of how fast you gain height vertically, as if you were in a lift, measured in metres per hour. The average VAM for a big climb on the Tour last year was 1,400m or 1,500m. When Alberto Contador attacked at Verbier in 2009 he was going at about 1,800m, which is similar to the figures Marco Pantani used to reach.

    In the Dauphiné, on the Col du Joux-Plane on the penultimate day, we were climbing at about 1,700 VAM. There aren't many riders out there who can go that fast, and there weren't many able to stay with us on that stage. So that gives me confidence that physically I'm in the right place at the moment.

    I don't know scientifically how valid it is to compare VAM figures from one rider to another on different days/courses, etc, but to me that comparison between Contador, Pantani and his own figures sounds like he's trying to tell the doping-doubters to shut it.

    that's strange because I read it the other way. To me he's saying Bertie is right up there with Pantani and we all know what that means. He then goes on to say about him (and others) climbing at 1700VAM so 1800VAM must be "something special"?

    To be honest I don't understand it surely how fast you gain height depends upon the course you follow to gain that height? so surely there must be variables

    No, you read it the same way I did... I don't think I made myself very clear. I think he was insinuating the same thing (i.e. Using this metric I clearly can't climb as well as juiced up riders like Pantani/Contador so don't put me i the same bracket as them).

    I agree that VAM does seem like a strange measure to compare between riders/courses/days/etc.


    I had one of them red bikes but I don't any more. Sad face.

    @ratsbey
  • rebsrebs Posts: 891
    VAM from what I understand iw only used on sections of climbs so set bench marks.

    If you compare the data of riders from similar sections with the rest f the telemetry t's a good way of getting a picture of how power output is workng for a rider. I like VAM as as tool. But needs other data to work along with it.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,753 Lives Here
    VAM tends to be higher for steeper climbs too IIRC.

    So for a given performance, my VAM up the Alp would be lower than the VAM up the Zoncalon.
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,319
    VAM tends to be higher for steeper climbs too IIRC.

    So for a given performance, my VAM up the Alp would be lower than the VAM up the Zoncalon.
    Yeah, that's what I thought. And Joux-Plane is steeper than most TdF climbs.
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • Jez monJez mon Posts: 3,809
    I read it as "look, here's a fancy way of comparing climbing speed, which sounds vaguely scientific and allows performance across different climbs to be compared, without data from the riders themselves. Using this measure, we can see that I'm an OK climber, but not as good as Pantani or Contador. But we all know why they were so good, wink, wink, nudge nudge."
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • jongingejonginge Posts: 5,945
    RichN95 wrote:
    VAM tends to be higher for steeper climbs too IIRC.

    So for a given performance, my VAM up the Alp would be lower than the VAM up the Zoncalon.
    Yeah, that's what I thought. And Joux-Plane is steeper than most TdF climbs.
    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2009/07/tour-2009-contador-climb.html
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  • LangerDanLangerDan Posts: 6,132
    I'd have thought that VAM is a particularly inaccurate method of measuring performance.

    Thisis what Ferrari has to say about it - the same VAM figure can mean significantly differing power outputs.
    'This week I 'ave been mostly been climbing like Basso - Shirley Basso.'
  • LeicesterLadLeicesterLad Posts: 3,908
    LangerDan wrote:
    I'd have thought that VAM is a particularly inaccurate method of measuring performance.

    Thisis what Ferrari has to say about it - the same VAM figure can mean significantly differing power outputs.

    Wasn't Ferrari an early developer of VAM? Makes sense with Wiggins being a doper I spose...























    ;)
  • dave milnedave milne Posts: 703
    VAM is rubbish. Utterly meaningless unless compared on the same climb. Am I missing something as to why it's quoted so much?
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,526
    Rundfahrt wrote:
    I do wonder at times if Sky does some things (or at least claims to do some things) just to be different.

    On another note this sounds like there is some concern about his climbing in the Sky camp.

    Sky have openly said that Wiggins had a perceived weakness on steeper climbs that they have been working hard at. Specifically (from memory) they have been working on his climbing out of the saddle.
  • ocdupalaisocdupalais Posts: 3,790
    Pross wrote:
    Rundfahrt wrote:
    I do wonder at times if Sky does some things (or at least claims to do some things) just to be different.

    On another note this sounds like there is some concern about his climbing in the Sky camp.

    Sky have openly said that Wiggins had a perceived weakness on steeper climbs that they have been working hard at. Specifically (from memory) they have been working on his climbing out of the saddle.


    I don't think there's any "concern about his climbing". It sounds like the opposite is true: one of the Sky training team (I think it was Rod Ellingworth) said in interview that they've developed Wiggins's training to be good (in the saddle) climbing up to around 14% gradients, rather than the 7 or 8% that tended start giving him problems previously. It sounds like there is still the admission that anyone with an attacking climbing style of the likes of Contador or the Shlecks, etc could give him problems on the really steep stuff. But you could count the number of those riders in the World on one hand.
    If the race started at the foot of some of these big climbs (in the GTs), then perhaps we'd see more of the likes of Pozzovivo and some of the Colombian specialists: but it's often the damage caused earlier in a stage - and then the ferocious pace set by the GC teams that nullifies such riders.
    On the one hand, that's great, because you can still have the intrigue of diesel riders like Wiggins, grinders like Evans, flyweights like Quintana/Pozzovivo and the best rider of his generation (ahem, Contador... what can I say, I'm a fan and I miss him! Despite what he may or may not have been up to) all up against one another: on the other hand, one team smashing it up in formation up the climbs can all be a bit reminiscent of Armstrong's Tour reign. Personally, I don't really have a problem with the latter style, but it gives rise to a lot of moaning elsewhere, which is profoundly boring...
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
    Sounds about as scientific as Geraint's snake oil bracelets. Also, if Sky were doing 1700 VAM at the Dauphine (when the domestiques stayed with the group) then you'd expect Wiggins to be approaching 1800 VAM at some point in the Tour.
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 24,319
    bigmat wrote:
    Sounds about as scientific as Geraint's snake oil bracelets. Also, if Sky were doing 1700 VAM at the Dauphine (when the domestiques stayed with the group) then you'd expect Wiggins to be approaching 1800 VAM at some point in the Tour.

    Whenever a cyclist says what watts (or similar) he's doing or how much weight he's lost it's best to take it with a pinch of salt. It like a fisherman saying how big the fish he caught was or a teenage boy saying how much sex he's had.
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • airwiseairwise Posts: 183
    VAM tends to be higher for steeper climbs too IIRC.

    So for a given performance, my VAM up the Alp would be lower than the VAM up the Zoncalon.

    On very steep gradients like the Zoncolan, your Vam will actually be negatively impacted. On very shallow gradients it will also suffer as aerodynamics come more into play. Around 8% - 10% seems to the the optimum but I agree - it's a rather rudimentary metric for a tour team to use. Power is vastly more useful in maximising performance.

    It's also a fact that we lose about 5% of power output for every 1000m vertical ascent so as power to weight drops, so does Vam. - unless you were not at max or are prepared to go into the red.

    Wiggins probably enjoyed exposing the ignorance of the British press on this one,
  • gabriel959gabriel959 Posts: 4,227
    Spinning the propaganda wheel like the censored spouted by Gallagher or Moore. Meaningless stats are meaningless.

    I will spin it my own way, you used to get dropped on 4th cat climbs and now you are less than 5% away from the likes of Pantani.

    Yeah right :lol:
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,249
    Am I the only one that thinks they measured Contadors time on a climb off of the telly and then did the same climb themselves and compared..?

    In all sciences the simpler the test, the better it is. Think we re getting all het up over nothing here, nothing like an arts graduate journo to screw up science, the Daily Mail has been doing that for years!
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • Jez monJez mon Posts: 3,809
    ddraver wrote:
    Am I the only one that thinks they.measured.contadors time on a climb off of the telly and then did the same climb themselves and compared..?

    In all sciences the simpler the test, the better it is. Think we re getting all het up over nothing here...

    Yes. He's using a metric which is also used by a doping doctor. Therefore, he is a scumbag. (Winking smilie)
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • gabriel959gabriel959 Posts: 4,227
    ddraver wrote:
    Am I the only one that thinks they measured Contadors time on a climb off of the telly and then did the same climb themselves and compared..?

    In all sciences the simpler the test, the better it is. Think we re getting all het up over nothing here, nothing like an arts graduate journo to screw up science, the Daily Mail has been doing that for years!

    +1

    Although it would be good if they didn't muddled the waters themselves with dubious information.
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,249
    Well true, but people like Bernie keep demanding such information even though they clearly are nt going to share all their methods with everyone else in the pro ranks....
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • gabriel959gabriel959 Posts: 4,227
    ddraver wrote:
    Well true, but people like Bernie keep demanding such information even though they clearly are nt going to share all their methods with everyone else in the pro ranks....

    Of course they wont, they don't want us seeing the needles!!! :D:lol:
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,249
    Man you have a bee in your bonnet about Sky dontcha!
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • gabriel959gabriel959 Posts: 4,227
    ddraver wrote:
    Man you have a bee in your bonnet about Sky dontcha!

    I was joking! :?
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,249
    gabriel959 wrote:
    ddraver wrote:
    Man you have a bee in your bonnet about Sky dontcha!

    I was joking! :?

    Cheerfully withdrawn.
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • Dorset_BoyDorset_Boy Posts: 3,394
    Maybe they're putting out smokescreens?
    Maybe within gradient bands this is a very valid measurement = less steep, faster speed forward, so could climb same altitude as a steeper pitch at a slower speed.

    So if your speed on a 5% gradient was say 30 km/h and on a 10% gradient it was 15 km/h, your VAM would be identical. So can Sky keep climbing at the same VAM pace whatever the pitch?
  • ozzzyosborn206ozzzyosborn206 Posts: 1,340
    thats what i was thinking, obviously it possibly it isn't the 'best' way, but clearly they are also doing alot with his power data, but how else can you compare how well you are going on different climbs without this kind of system, to me it seems like quite a clever way of looking at it.

    Dorset Boy wrote:
    Maybe they're putting out smokescreens?
    Maybe within gradient bands this is a very valid measurement = less steep, faster speed forward, so could climb same altitude as a steeper pitch at a slower speed.

    So if your speed on a 5% gradient was say 30 km/h and on a 10% gradient it was 15 km/h, your VAM would be identical. So can Sky keep climbing at the same VAM pace whatever the pitch?
  • Yellow PerilYellow Peril Posts: 4,466
    thats what i was thinking, obviously it possibly it isn't the 'best' way, but clearly they are also doing alot with his power data, but how else can you compare how well you are going on different climbs without this kind of system, to me it seems like quite a clever way of looking at it.

    Dorset Boy wrote:
    Maybe they're putting out smokescreens?
    Maybe within gradient bands this is a very valid measurement = less steep, faster speed forward, so could climb same altitude as a steeper pitch at a slower speed.

    So if your speed on a 5% gradient was say 30 km/h and on a 10% gradient it was 15 km/h, your VAM would be identical. So can Sky keep climbing at the same VAM pace whatever the pitch?

    still a lot of variables such as road surface, nature of race (chasing breakaways etc), nature of road (amount of switchbacks) , size of group, weather etc.

    However, I blindly assume that Sky know which numbers to crunch to give them a useful stat (other than the stats which make them drill it on the front of the pack when others shoyuld take a turn!)

    Really looking forward to tomorrow though I doubt VAM will be an issue in the prologue
    @JaunePeril

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  • tremaynetremayne Posts: 378
    My own take on this is that we know wiggins and sky have spent an inordinate amount of time holed up on the side of some massive volcano/mountain undergoing serious serious mountain training (at altitude). We also know that (for example) Millar has come out and said that he would have loved Garmin to be able to do similar, but don't actually have the budget for this.

    Given wiggo will have spent day upon day climbing the same slope, one of the easiest ways to measure and benchmark his performance and improvement etc is vam. I'm guessing his computer or a box of tricks takes care of it all and it potentially saves having to press 'start' at the exact same point and measure the time taken for the climb etc - which would be the other obvious alternative.

    I'm honestly prepared to believe that he has been working with vam. At least during this mountain training. I think it becomes less credible once you really start mixing up roads and gradients.
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