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Are the Pro's just robots?

charliew87charliew87 Posts: 371
edited December 2012 in Pro race
I'm a huge fan of Wiggo and all the top riders. I've read most of their books and follow the tours religiously.

However, it became pretty clear in Wiggo's book, that whilst he is massively talented and almost certainly the best in the world at what he does, he is essentially just a robot plugged into a computer controlled by Dave Brailsford and Tim Kerrison. They worked out this time last year exactly what power output he would need to win, how much training he would need to do to reach that level and how much climbing would be required. He did all the training, reached that level and destroyed everyone in 2012.

He turned up at the tour and churned out 450w or whatever it was, in the knowledge that nobody else could match it and barring injury he was guaranteed success.

I've no issue with the training side of things using the power meters, but surely they massively detract from the spectacle of the live event, knowing riders are basing everything on computer readings rather than instinct and talent?

Not sure if this discussion has been had before, if so point me that way, but should power meters really play such an important role in racing? Surely riders instincts and natural talents should play more of a role?
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 20,476
    Dear god yes it has been done before....to sum up, you re wrong.
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • TurfleTurfle Posts: 3,762
    It doesn't bother me in the slightest. Riders are still making the same calculations of whether or not to go into the red. Riders are still clinging onto the backs of groups, regardless of whether they know their wattage or not. Riders are still exploding on climbs.

    There have always been tempo climbers, and there have always been explosive climbers. That Wiggins has his numbers in front of him doesn't mean he's riding any different to how Indurain, for example, rode. Froome does it too, but it didn't stop him attacking, and it didn't stop him from attacking when he probably shouldn't have attacked.

    The problem with the Tour was that Wiggins power WAS enough. What happens when it isn't?
  • Are the race bikes equipped with power meters, measuring race power output (and transmitting it?) in real time?

    Or is that stuff just for training?
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Just churning out 450W wouldnt guarantee success. Two 400W riders getting away and pacing each other would probably be faster than one 450W rider. (numbers made up - but you see what I mean)

    Racing is so tactical - nothing is guaranteed. An unfortunate crash or puncture and he's out of the race. And its not quite that easy getting to be able to put out those huge figures.

    There's no other sport like it.
  • See where everyone's coming from regarding the normal stages. There are too many other factors involved to rely purely on some numbers, but surely in an hour long time trial, it's just boring to base it all on a number on a screen in front of you. Wiggo knows he can churn 460 or whatever it is for an hour and nobody else can, and he just cycles along at that speed for an hour and wins. Obviously not quite that simple, but would it not be better for the sport to leave riders on their own with just themselves, their bikes and a couple of time checks in those circumstances?
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  • antflyantfly Posts: 3,448
    Without radios, is that what you mean ? I think they tried that recently.
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  • charliew87 wrote:
    Wiggo knows he can churn 460 or whatever it is for an hour and nobody else can, and he just cycles along at that speed for an hour and wins. Obviously not quite that simple, but would it not be better for the sport to leave riders on their own with just themselves, their bikes and a couple of time checks in those circumstances?

    I'd be willing to bet that Wiggins could do ride to a certain wattage without the power meter.
  • charliew87 wrote:
    Wiggo knows he can churn 460 or whatever it is for an hour and nobody else can, and he just cycles along at that speed for an hour and wins. Obviously not quite that simple, but would it not be better for the sport to leave riders on their own with just themselves, their bikes and a couple of time checks in those circumstances?

    I'd be willing to bet that Wiggins could do ride to a certain wattage without the power meter.

    Exactly, take that away and they'd use Heart Rate, take that away and we're back to riders learning their gear development chart by rote and multiplying it by cadence.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

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  • TurfleTurfle Posts: 3,762
    Also, the "just" in "just riding at high enough wattage to defeat all other cyclists" is doing a heck of a lot of work.
  • maddog 2maddog 2 Posts: 8,114
    if they were robots you would hear the engine inside them. I'm pretty sure they are too quiet.
    Facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that's remotely true! - Homer
  • r0bhr0bh Posts: 1,446
    edited December 2012
    charliew87 wrote:
    Wiggo knows he can churn 460 or whatever it is for an hour and nobody else can, and he just cycles along at that speed for an hour and wins. Obviously not quite that simple, but would it not be better for the sport to leave riders on their own with just themselves, their bikes and a couple of time checks in those circumstances?

    I'd be willing to bet that Wiggins could do ride to a certain wattage without the power meter.

    Exactly. They are professional bike riders and I bet they could guess their power output to within a few watts just going off perceived exertion. If there had been a ban on power meters in the Tour I'm pretty sure that Wiggo would still have won.
  • Exactly, take that away and they'd use Heart Rate, take that away and we're back to riders learning their gear development chart by rote and multiplying it by cadence.

    Mind you, I'd still do away with radios. In fact, I'd get rid of all the team cars!
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 20,476
    I used to go to a swimming club for a bit of extra exercise and we also swam with the Kids. The coach could tell the kids (ages from about 13/14 to 18 yrs old) to swim a certain distance in a certain time and they were good enough to get within a second of it. They were nt the best in the club (but close), but they could get that close.

    There is no chance that a 30 year old professional athlete could nt do the same thing.

    AS we ve said a gazillion times, putting a bunch of domestiques on the front to control pace is not a Sky thing, it's not a powermeter thing, it's not even a modern thing. It's a cycling thing!
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • ProssPross Posts: 24,213
    You could have the best DS in the world telling me what to do and I still wouldn't win. The human body is also unpredictable, a rider might be able to ride x watts for y amount of time in training or 99% of races but that doesn't mean they won't crack when doing the same under pressure. Likewise, there's no point riding at your known level in a single day race if your opposition are leaving you behind - if you want to win you have to go into the red. It hasn't really changed over the years. Even in a TT where a measured full out effort is required I doubt things have changed as others have pointed out. Radios being used to determine race tactics is probably more of an issue.
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,779
    Power meters make no difference. The riders still have to kick out the watts - It's not like the DS can say "ride at 420W" and it will just happen. And as the body gets tired, things become more unpredictable.

    Sky just rode to their strengths. They employed a bunch of strong guys who could set a hard tempo. If anything is to blame it's their big budget and ability to have a 600K guy, followed by an 800K guy followed by a 1.1m guy.

    As for radio's - Meh. Like RichN95 likes to point out, the Copenhagen worlds was strangled into submissive boredom by team GB would no radio.

    I suspect if people want really exciting racing, like in the old days, we'll need to have the races only available via articles in a magazine a week later, or races edited down to 20 minutes per stage.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • shinyhelmutshinyhelmut Posts: 1,345
    ^this.

    And smaller teams
  • tailwindhometailwindhome Posts: 15,475
    *goes off in vague tangent.

    Was there not a story about Rafa Benitez making substitution decisions based on data being analyzed on the sidelines?
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  • mike6mike6 Posts: 1,199
    It is the job of a coach, in any sport, to get the best out of the athlete. But.....if its not there in the first place even the worlds best coach cant get it out.

    It would be easy for a coach to say to a runner "Run faster" easy to say, not easy to do.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,594 Lives Here
    iainf72 wrote:
    Power meters make no difference. The riders still have to kick out the watts - It's not like the DS can say "ride at 420W" and it will just happen. And as the body gets tired, things become more unpredictable.

    Sky just rode to their strengths. They employed a bunch of strong guys who could set a hard tempo. If anything is to blame it's their big budget and ability to have a 600K guy, followed by an 800K guy followed by a 1.1m guy.

    As for radio's - Meh. Like RichN95 likes to point out, the Copenhagen worlds was strangled into submissive boredom by team GB would no radio.

    I suspect if people want really exciting racing, like in the old days, we'll need to have the races only available via articles in a magazine a week later, or races edited down to 20 minutes per stage.

    Smaller teams - the olympics would have been rubbish with a team of 9. Teams of 5 made it better.
  • iainf72 wrote:
    As for radio's - Meh. Like RichN95 likes to point out, the Copenhagen worlds was strangled into submissive boredom by team GB would no radio.

    Did they use radios at this year's Worlds then?
  • No_Ta_DoctorNo_Ta_Doctor Posts: 10,028
    TBH I think the main advantage of power meters, at least for Wiggins, is a confidence boost. You know what you put out in training and racing over a year, your DS tells you to pick up the pace, you can see you've got a few more watts in you.
    “Road racing was over and the UCI had banned my riding positions on the track, so it was like ‘Jings, crivvens, help ma Boab, what do I do now? I know, I’ll go away and be depressed for 10 years’.”

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  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    You don't know that though.

    If I've done x watts before, that doesn't mean I can do it again, especially not if I've got a load of miles in the legs etc. However in the TT's his power speaks for itself.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    You do if you have peaked properly for a race, you might aim to go higher than ever.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Nonsense. It is all so variable you could never know that you were 100% sure had x in the tank...

    Also Froome has less watts than Brad, you wouldn't have thought that at times in the tour...!
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • okgo wrote:
    Nonsense. It is all so variable you could never know that you were 100% sure had x in the tank...

    Also Froome has less watts than Brad, you wouldn't have thought that at times in the tour...!


    No question when it came to the TTs who had the most power
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