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Power meters in pro racing

redvisionredvision Posts: 2,521
edited June 2018 in Pro race
Now that the dust has settled in the giro, and having watched another highlights show over the weekend, I thought it wound be a perfect time to discuss power meters in pro races again.

Whilst this was arguably one of most exciting GTs for a while, I still think it raised questions again about the use of power meters possibly reducing the excitement. I think it is obvious now that Froome was riding to plan from the first day. Perhaps he was carrying an injury but regardless, he was clearly riding to a specific power target, set so he would peak in the third week.

On the first big mountain stage Tom Dumoulin openly admitted his team had worked out the power figure he needed to stick to beforehand, preventing the need for him to do a recce before the stage.

All the riders have access to power meters, and 99% will ride to power, but you have to ask, would it be more exciting if power meters were not permitted in pro races??

The analogy to make is formula one. For the last few years all drivers are complaining about not being able to race as at certain points of the race they have to save fuel, and the components have to last multiple races. In cycling the power meter means riders can work out the necessary data pre race and no longer tend to attack on feel. Yes I know there were some big attacks in the giro but they were either power controlled or the rider was dropped in the subsequent days as he pushed too hard.

Science has a role to play in all sports but is it time to ditch the pm to bring some uncertainty and natural racing back to pro races??
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  • green_markgreen_mark Posts: 74
    I don't think it will make much difference.

    Given how much they all train with power meters, they’re all pretty expert at judging power outputs based on their Rated Perceived Exertion.
  • redvisionredvision Posts: 2,521
    green_mark wrote:
    I don't think it will make much difference.

    Given how much they all train with power meters, they’re all pretty expert at judging power outputs based on their Rated Perceived Exertion.

    You say that, and it was what I used to think, but then when you consider how many riders attacked in the giro and then suffered the next day, perhaps they aren't as expert at judging power output by feel as you think.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    The stage where Froome won it was amazing. Keep the power meters !
  • redvision wrote:
    green_mark wrote:
    I don't think it will make much difference.

    Given how much they all train with power meters, they’re all pretty expert at judging power outputs based on their Rated Perceived Exertion.

    You say that, and it was what I used to think, but then when you consider how many riders attacked in the giro and then suffered the next day, perhaps they aren't as expert at judging power output by feel as you think.


    All teams have power meters now. They had them in the Giro. So your point it...what?

    Personally I dont give a hoot whether they use them or not. But I am curious as to what your ideal race looks like, because tbh your original post is conflicted.
  • redvisionredvision Posts: 2,521
    cougie wrote:
    The stage where Froome won it was amazing. Keep the power meters !

    It was. But he still rode specifically to power.

    Dave Brailsford said they had planned the whole attack and set his power limit so that he wouldn't drop off.

    Imagine how much more exciting it could have been if he was having to rely on feel rather than data.
  • redvisionredvision Posts: 2,521
    All teams have power meters now. They had them in the Giro. So your point it...what?

    Personally I dont give a hoot whether they use them or not. But I am curious as to what your ideal race looks like, because tbh your original post is conflicted.

    All teams have them and it is the same for all riders BUT what I have realised is that power meters mean that stages can, in effect, be determined pre race through setting power limits for the rider. Dumoulin the perfect example and also of course Froome.

    I just think it would enhance the sport if it became unpredictable again, where riders attacked on feel rather than what data number the scientist/coach had set the day before.
  • r0bhr0bh Posts: 1,407
    redvision wrote:
    All teams have power meters now. They had them in the Giro. So your point it...what?

    Personally I dont give a hoot whether they use them or not. But I am curious as to what your ideal race looks like, because tbh your original post is conflicted.

    All teams have them and it is the same for all riders BUT what I have realised is that power meters mean that stages can, in effect, be determined pre race through setting power limits for the rider. Dumoulin the perfect example and also of course Froome.

    I just think it would enhance the sport if it became unpredictable again, where riders attacked on feel rather than what data number the scientist/coach had set the day before.

    So you think Mitchelton-Scott pre-determined that Yates should ship tens of minutes on the Finestre stage and set his power limits appropriately?

    No doubt you had predicted the outcome of the Giro well in advance, given how predictable it was! Can you post your predictions so we can all clean up at the bookies please.

    Jeez, are we really having this debate again after one of the most exciting and unpredictable GTs in recent years :roll:
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Presumably Yates was also riding to power ?
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,476
    hmm - perhaps the OP has forgotten what a Power Meter does ...

    it measures the power output of the rider - it doesn't set it ... ;)
  • redvisionredvision Posts: 2,521
    slowbike wrote:
    hmm - perhaps the OP has forgotten what a Power Meter does ...

    it measures the power output of the rider - it doesn't set it ... ;)

    FFS I never said the pm sets it I said the coaches set the power the rider needs to stick to.

    Yates attacked and went above his ftp. He then subsequently popped in week three.

    Froome rode exactly as he always does, with each stage analysed by the coaches pre race, setting specific power targets for each stage.
    This meant that he was always riding within himself knowing that what he lost to others in the first two weeks he would gain when they crumbled in week 3.
  • blazing_saddlesblazing_saddles Posts: 14,030
    How would it make it any more exciting to us? We wouldn't know how they were feeling.
    When watching, did you not still think that Froome could have bonked at any time, during that attack?

    Riders do still attack on feel: They are called French
    Before that, they were called dopers.
    "Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,008
    Do you think these guys are really stupid or something and will ride themselves into the ground day after day?

    GTs usually have mostly boring stages, especially in the mountains and will continue to do so with or without PMs.

    If you expect daily repeats of that stage you'll be pretty disappointed except by legalising PEDs
  • ShutupJensShutupJens Posts: 1,373
    Froome riding to a plan = winning on the Zoncolan and then shipping time again the next day right?

    If you took the power meters away do you think people will be more inclined to attack from a long way out, or less? Sounds to me like the perfect way to guarantee more conservative racing.

    Why do people insist on trying to fix racing when it's just as exciting as that? Or is this a Froome thing, where its bad because he did it and won
  • redvisionredvision Posts: 2,521
    ShutupJens wrote:
    Froome riding to a plan = winning on the Zoncolan and then shipping time again the next day right?

    If you took the power meters away do you think people will be more inclined to attack from a long way out, or less? Sounds to me like the perfect way to guarantee more conservative racing.

    Why do people insist on trying to fix racing when it's just as exciting as that? Or is this a Froome thing, where its bad because he did it and won

    Nope, not a Froome thing, although he is the biggest power meter profile rider.

    Froome never looked in trouble in his attack and the fact that he wasn't taking huge chunks out of the chasers told me that he was riding within himself, to the power figure the team had set.

    Racing should be natural and on feel. I just don't think it's right that a stage can essentially be won the night before by the coaches.

    When you think of riders just obeying the power data set by the coaches where is the racing?
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,008
    Do you seriously think you can win a stage race by simply obeying power data and doing what your DS tells you?

    Here's quite an interesting snippet Rick posted a few days ago:
    [re: position and power]

    The same goes for GC riders.

    There was a Cycling podcast bit a year or two ago where they get Joe Dombrowski to do a diary. He's chilling with other friends from the peloton, and one of them makes the point most of them there have numbers that on paper can win a GT. They've all realised there's a hell of a lot more to it, and being able to unlock that performance within you on the day, when it matters, with the right tactics, etc etc. That's why it's a good sport.
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,038
    redvision wrote:
    When you think of riders just obeying the power data set by the coaches where is the racing?
    Quite right. I, for one, was deeply disappointed by the complete lack of racing in this year's Giro :?
  • larkimlarkim Posts: 2,279
    redvision wrote:
    Nope, not a Froome thing, although he is the biggest power meter profile rider.
    You know this, how exactly? He is the rider most accused of riding to power, probably as much as anything because of his bike position staring at his stem / where his power meter is.
    redvision wrote:
    Froome rode exactly as he always does, with each stage analysed by the coaches pre race, setting specific power targets for each stage.
    This meant that he was always riding within himself knowing that what he lost to others in the first two weeks he would gain when they crumbled in week 3.
    Again, you're leaping to a lot of assumptions here which require some inside knowledge of how Froome works.

    I don't doubt for a minute that there is some truth in what you say which may well apply to all riders and all teams. But equally there is a peloton of 150 other riders around every day, some of whom will be going off script. Plus weather, feeding, general bio rhythms, instinctive feel, unexpected mechanicals, mental fortitude, muscular fatigue, mild niggles / injuries etc etc.

    There's a lot of tech / progress which all teams use to improve the effectiveness of their riders on a day by day, week by week basis to raise standards and improve consistency. Singling out powermeters as the silver bullet to recreate some halcyon days where every GT stage was highly unpredictable (halycon days which never existed) is just over-simplistic.
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  • PhilipPirripPhilipPirrip Posts: 616
    When was this rose tinted time, sans PEDs and technology, when all pro cycling was so exciting and unpredictable?

    Answer: It's never existed. People have always sought to gain an advantage whether legal or not and you can't uninvent the technologies that have already been invented.

    Froome won the Giro using what was available not only to him but to all competitors. The question is, as all had access to the same technology and methods, why didn't others do better?

    To suggest it all comes down to following power data on the day is seriously naive. Froome's plan was formulated months ago and his training began last year.

    The question isn't as much what did Froome do to win but what did others not do or did wrong that meant they didn't win.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 8,084
    ShutupJens wrote:
    Froome riding to a plan = winning on the Zoncolan and then shipping time again the next day right?

    This basically sums it up, you can have all the power targets you like, but the rider still has to execute on that.
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,008
    Also - how is it possible to 'ride to power' when your not in a position to keep up? I doubt Froome scripted the loss of 3 minutes to TD.

    Also - this Giro, everyone is saying how damn hard it is, so noone is 'riding to power'. They're riding as fast as the fastest team on the road, otherwise you lose time.

    You are in effect asking riders to turn their brains off and just push themselves to breaking point day after day. Which realistically can only be done once, maybe twice in a 3 week GT.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,782 Lives Here
    You need to remember that although power is the main input into speed (followed by drag etc), it's not actual speed.

    So it's all very well talking numbers, but we can all see with our own eyes who's riding faster.

    They don't really need a powermeter to tell them they're blowing hard and riding fast, nor do I really need Froome's power meter reading to know he was riding chuffing hard and fast in his 80km solo win.

    I do think experienced riders who know how to use Powermetres do get some assistance.

    But then this Giro has persuaded me that blowing up is a question of experience rather than anything else.
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 22,914
    Riding to a power meter and riding to 'feel' are essentially the same thing. There both are used to help answer the question 'am I going to fast or too slow?' Neither are going to change the strategic approach of a rider if they replace the other. Besides a pro who spends hours every day riding has develop a strong correlation between the power meter and 'feel'. Heart rate motors are a better way to judge exertion anyway.
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    I agree with the sentiment, riding to power will necessarily remove some of the "feeling" however I think they are here to stay, along with heart rate monitors, garmins, electronic shifting and so on. I don't really care what kind of electronics and new tech they stick on a bike because at the end of the day it's still a man using his legs to win a race.
  • PhilipPirripPhilipPirrip Posts: 616
    Just thinking back to Giro 2017, was anyone calling for a ban on the technological advantages of time trial bikes and aero in Grand Tours as clearly they gave Dumoulin a significant advantage in the final stage?

    Or are we only wanting to ban certain technlogies that are open to all but which only certain riders know how to maximise?
  • ShutupJensShutupJens Posts: 1,373

    Or are we only wanting to ban certain technlogies that are open to all but which only certain riders know how to maximise?

    It's this one
  • r0bhr0bh Posts: 1,407
    Or are we only wanting to ban certain technlogies that are open to all but which only certain riders know how to maximise?

    TBH this sentence applies just as much to TT bikes and aero as it does powermeters!
  • above_the_cowsabove_the_cows Posts: 10,862
    edited June 2018
    redvision wrote:
    FFS I never said the pm sets it I said the coaches set the power the rider needs to stick to.

    You do realise that cyclists are human beings not machines and that this idea that the coaches set the power the rider needs to stick to requires the rider to actually be able to do that and that it is not as easy as you make out, there are biophysical and external factors at play. They're not racing on a turbo with a computer program.
    Correlation is not causation.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,782 Lives Here
    You know the story the first time Cav rode the Tour with a powermeter?

    First time they went uphill Cav was getting worried, confiding to a teammate that he had been riding massively in the red all day.

    "You'll want to block out the power meter readings for the Tour; you're always in the red". So he did.
  • ShutupJensShutupJens Posts: 1,373
    redvision wrote:
    FFS I never said the pm sets it I said the coaches set the power the rider needs to stick to.

    You do realise that cyclists are human beings not machines and that this idea that the coaches set the power the rider needs to stick requires the rider to actually be able to do that and that it is not as easy as you make out, there are biophysical and external factors at play. They're not racing on a turbo with a computer program.

    This all day, thank you ATC
  • RichN95.RichN95. Posts: 22,914
    How easy is it to ride to a steady wattage anyway? I've never used a power meter but I imagine that trying to keep at say 300W is quite difficult and would require concentration best used elsewhere.
    Twitter: @RichN95
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