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What makes a good time trialist?

geoff_ssgeoff_ss Posts: 1,234
edited July 2011 in Pro race
I can see how a rider can be either an explosive sprinter (Cavendish) or a good climber (Schlecks) because of the difference between slow and fast twitch muscles. I can even see how a rider can be a good all-rounder without (relatively) excelling in either of those two disciplines (Gilbert).

What I don't understand is why a rider would be unable to time trial over a mixed course like the one around Grenoble. (I think the route should have included the loop up to Chambrousse, which it easily could, just to make it a bit hillier but that's a different subject) Surely any good rider should be able to time trial effectively. Is it a mental or a physical trait to be a good solo rider.

A very good friend of mine was successful and a national champion both in time trialling (UK style) and as a road racer. I suppose he would be more in the Gilbert mould though his hero was Anquetil.

It puzzles me. I'm sure someone here will explain it :)
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Posts

  • RowCycleRowCycle Posts: 367
    Looking at Cancellera and Martin I'd say massive legs
  • sagaloutsagalout Posts: 338
    RowCycle wrote:
    Looking at Cancellera and Martin I'd say massive legs

    Looking at Wiggins I'd say not!
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,477
    I'm no expert, but strong flat riding requires good power? And a time trial requires you can maintain that power for a reasonable length of time. Guessing those are the main requirements.

    To be a good climber you probably need good power/weight plus the ability to sprint well to get clear of the bunch.

    That's what seperates Cadel, and to an extent the likes of Ullrich. They were both good against the clock so could maintain a strong tempo in the mountains, but didn't have the acceleration to match the likes of Pantani or Schleck.
  • The ability to ride at a high % of peak power for a sustained period seems to be the key. I've looked at peak power tests (incremental till exhaustion, the same protocol used for VO2 Max) performed by Mick Rogers, and although his peak wasn't massively high (and not even outside the realms of possibilty for a good domestic pro) his TT performances suggest he has the ability to ride very close to that for long periods.
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  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    I reckon it must be a high lactate tolerance. If you look at several good TTers you will see a very different physique between them, Wiggins, Martin, Cancellara, Contador and Evans, all very different but great riders against the clock.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Geoff_SS wrote:
    Is it a mental or a physical trait to be a good solo rider.
    Both!

    The essentials for doing a good TT are the Three P's (TM Alex Simmons):
    - Power
    - Piercing the wind
    - Pacing

    Power - power to weight ratio comes into play on the hillier courses, but mainly power to CdA (frontal area x coefficient of drag)

    Piercing the wind - being powerful will take you so far.......but can you generate the same or similar power in an aerodynamic position? So all very well to spend a fortune getting your position dialled in during wind tunnel testing, but can you actually ride the bike still? The amount of training done specifically on the TT bike adapting to the position also comes into play.

    Pacing - the thing that differentiates good riders from great time triallists. The ability to completely "empty the tank" while riding a TT but not run out of gas before the finish.

    The final factor that comes into play in the final TT of a 3-week tour is freshness/recovery. Cancellara clearly had a tough last few days and was well below his normall level whereas Tony Martin still managed to nearly equal his time form stage 3 of the Dauphine showing he was recovering pretty well.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Oh, and being a bloody good bike handler helps too:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA03vSHPBJo
  • Richrd2205Richrd2205 Posts: 1,267
    ^^^^
    But to summarise & answer the OP, a good TTer has high power to wind resistance & a climber has high power to weight.
    A 50kg climber & a 90kg time triallist putting out 6W/kg will perform very differently on hills & on the flat.
    You can play with the numbers here, all you need to remember is to base power on watts per kilo & you can see the difference body weight will make when the road climbs.
    (The linked-to site is primarily about recumbents, but works as well with uprights)
  • a_n_ta_n_t Posts: 2,011
    Wiggins put out something like 480 watts in the national 10!
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  • ProssPross Posts: 29,902
    You need the physical power but the difference at the top level then comes down to mental strength IMHO (together with good team support in developing an aero position).
  • geoff_ssgeoff_ss Posts: 1,234
    Thanks everyone. I see there's a feature on the front page about time trialling. At the speeds I used to do I don't think an aero position would have much difference :) (25 minutes for a '10' and 1hr 5 mins for a '25' on a bike -a bit slower on 3 wheels)

    I sometimes wonder if I could have got 'under' had I used a modern special time trial bike rather than the stripped down Mercian touring frame I used.
    Old cyclists never die; they just fit smaller chainrings ... and pedal faster
  • mattshropsmattshrops Posts: 1,134
    weren't they doing a 31mile (ish) time trial and the difference between good and "censored " was about 2 minutes........
    Hmmm wish i was that censored 8)
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  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 57,846 Lives Here
    Pross wrote:
    You need the physical power but the difference at the top level then comes down to mental strength IMHO (together with good team support in developing an aero position).

    I'd suggest the difference at the top level is totally the opposite.

    Pretty much most pros can totally bury themselves. They wouldn't have got there otherwise. It's the body that prevents them winning.

    The analogy I use is F1 - imagine the driver is the brain, and the car is the body.

    There are those who are faster drivers than others, but the main factor, as ever are the cars, since every driver there, by virture of being there, can drive cars pretty much to the limit every time.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Pretty much most pros can totally bury themselves. They wouldn't have got there otherwise. It's the body that prevents them winning.
    It's one thing to bury yourself in a bunch race and another to do it when riding solo. I'd still say that the best testers can go deeper when riding alone. It requires a hell of a lot of focus to ride full gas for an hour.
  • No_Ta_DoctorNo_Ta_Doctor Posts: 11,194
    Not much mention of technique so far, other than bike handling....

    It's easy to see the difference between good TTers and rubbish ones when you watch them ride. The best TTers are incredibly efficient, you only see their legs move, the entire upper body is still. Picking on a censored TTer Andy Schleck looked like his jersey was full of ants, he was wriggling all over the place. Picking on another censored TTer, Frank Schleck couldn't hold his line at all, he looked like he would end up riding a couple of km further than everyone else the way he wobbled over the road....

    I don't know much about the science/body type you need, but getting the absolute maximum out of what you put in is probably quite important...
    “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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  • Dave-MDave-M Posts: 206
    I used to think it was about huge legs.

    I have huge legs......still not very good!
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