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July 22, 2017
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  • Andy B

    impressive figures nonetheless

    • Paulmapp

      The most impressive stat is the loss of a high percentage of bodyweight fat whilst retaining muscle and FTP.
      Biggest loser candidate given he was still a pro at 75.6kgs.
      Can’t imagine striping a further 8.6 kg off fun even if slightly cyclical.

  • Myles

    The past has burnt our trust. My solution is we all cycle more

    • ummm…

      This is a much more elegant way of saying what I usually try to say.

  • Jordan Santos

    Just a thing: Ross Tucker is South African, not Australian. Great piece of work!

  • Nath

    I realise this is all (relatively) important and that cycling definitely needs more scrutiny, but the cycling media seems to be trying to turn themselves from fanboy yes men to hard-headed investigative reporters in one swift step. Some may have forgotten the sheep like role the cycling media played in the Armstrong saga, but for me, I reckon the cycling media has as many questions to answer as cycling itself.

    • velocite

      I believe that hits the spot. We so do not want to get duped again so we doubt everybody, even Cadel sometimes!

  • Nitro

    Just so I don’t stuff up my thinking / comparison with my (clearly inferior) self – what’s the definition of “Peak Power” Vs “Sustained Power”.

    Peak = sustainable for 20 mins / Sustained = 1 hour?

    • Andy B

      I believe it may be
      Peak= 5 Minutes
      Sustained= 20 Minutes ?

    • Peak Power Output (PPO) is the work rate at maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). For an elite athlete, sustainable for between 5 and 8 minutes.

      Sustainable power output is another way of saying “functional threshold”. In this case, 40 minute sustainable work rate.

      • fred biggins

        I believe here they are saying that Sustainable is measured at 20 minutes.

        | Esquire quotes him as saying. “But 6.2w/kg is definitely doable for Chris for 20 minutes if not longer.”

      • Paul Jakma

        The peak power in these ramp tests would be the power just before the subject gives up. They’re already well in the red at that point. I doubt that figure could be sustained for 8 minutes (I couldn’t sustain mine for that long anyway ;) ).

        The other figure is the ‘ventilatory threshold’. That’s the power figure at the which O?/min usage stops increasing along with the increase in power. That signals the maximum amount of power the body can produce aerobically (and hence relatively sustainable). Past that figure, the body is augmenting aerobic power production with (much less sustainable) other, non-aerobic power production metabolic pathways. Exactly how long a person can sustain that ventilatory threshold figure is another question, but one would assume 20 minutes+ should be possible. Really good athletes might be able to sustain it for double that or more.

        • There are meany factors that contribute to how long an individual can sustain “peak power”. But I think ultimately the question is, did the MAP / PPO / VO2 test actually reach true max, and does the reference value represent true max. I’m yet to see an athlete that can hold MAP for much more than 6 minutes. And likewise I question 8, assuming an accurate value for MAP.

          In this specific example we can only trust that his reported values reflect his max – But I see no reason why a reputable research group would release numbers they didn’t have confidence in. How long could Froome hold his MAP for, who knows without having access to his field data.

          According to other reports, lactate (Dmax) was the method used to determine Froome’s threshold – quoted as being sustainable for 20-40 minutes. Given this work rate (419 Watts) represents 79.8% of his reported “peak power” the 40 minute duration is completely reasonable, if not low for a very well trained endurance athlete. There is plenty of research that indicates elite cyclists can sustain higher percentages of VO2max / MAP than what has been reported here.

          As for the method for reporting of threshold, Andy Coggan talks about that here:


  • VO2min

    Is it safe to assume that the online article from Esquire is not the entire article that will appear in print on Monday? Because, to my eyes, it ends rather abruptly, with no real conclusion to the narrative.

    • That’s our take as well. It ends very suddenly.

  • VO2min

    “The engine was there all along,” says Swart. “He just lost the fat.”

    OK, but did Froome just lose the fat in the few weeks leading up to his 2011 Vuelta breakthrough?

    I’m also having a hard time with the assessment of 9.8% body fat.
    “Froome says he isn’t surprised, that his gangly arms and legs give him the appearance of being skinnier than he is.”

    Is he serious with that? His grotesquely thin appearance is now the stuff of legend. We’ve all seen pics of emaciated POWs, but they hardly display the type of vascularity that Froome does. It’s more than just his gangly limbs that make him appear that way. 9.8?!?!

    • Note also, a 2.9 kg increase in mass from their reported tour mass.

      Unlikely that that increase is lean mass (muscle) given the time frame. So 6.8% fat mass is not representative of his body composition during the Tour.

    • Lyrebird_Cycles

      Well the figures literally don’t add up: 61.5 kg lean mass + 6.7 kg fat = 68.2 kg, not 69.9 (or 67, the layout of the figures is a little ambiguous).

      Assuming the fat mass and percentage are the correct figures and his lean mass is thus now 63.2 kg, his tour weight of 67 kg would be a fat percentage somewhere between 5.7% (if the differential was all fat) and 7.8% (if it was 50/50 fat and lean mass). That looks about right to me.

      • The other main component of a DEXA scan is bone…

        Not saying the figures are or are not correct, just saying that there is a component there that you have not factored in.

        • Lyrebird_Cycles

          I’d thought about that but as far as I am aware bone is simply counted in lean mass. The figures given support this, there’s no way Froome’s skeleton weighs 1.7 kg.

          • Can you buy these carbon-lite skeletons? It’d help me climb like Froomey….

  • Strictly B Grade

    don’t want to be a naysayer
    but there are a few things here that are a little strange.

    Is Esquire the best place for this story to run?

    I still call bullshit that Team Skye of the “no
    stone unturned” and “incremental gains” never bothered to do any testing on him
    – having said that; they also signed JTL and his bio-passport case made it
    sound like he was up to his eyeballs on gear.

    If the thing holding Froome back from showing
    his true potential was actually his “chubbiness”

    a. Why
    were we hearing all this info about his Bilzherian disease?

    b. The
    “I just lost weight” argument is straight from the Armstrong playbook.

  • Tony N

    I am taking this as proof to my claim that I would win the Tour if I wasn’t so fat.

    • Dave Clark

      You are correct, no beers for you on the weekend.

  • Martin P. Hoff

    What is the definition of “peak power” used? Bit confusing without a clear def

    • Andrius

      Read original article. Peak Power Output (PPO) – In respect of cycle tesAng, peak power output is the final maintained power (30 second average) that a cyclist produces in the final stages of a maximal ramp test. A ramp test requires cyclists to cycle conAnuously against an ever increasing resistance, the rate of which is determined prior to the test.

  • Dan Hustwayte

    Has anyone ever thought that perhaps Froome’s improvement in results isn’t purely physiological, natural or not, but perhaps he just learned how to race.
    Unlike most Euro Pros he wasn’t schooled through an academy system or age old junior series of racing like in Italy and Belgium or groomed by a World Tour Team since he was 14. He didn’t turn pro until 22 in South Africa, then signed by African backed Barloworld, because he was African in 2008. So perhaps between 2008 and 2011 he just learned how to race and what he could do.
    Look at Taylor Phinney, bastion of cleaning cycling, he turned pro, or pretty much as close to it with the Trek-Livestrong in 2009. By 2012 he seemed to finally have figured out how to win and what races to win and it looked like he was going to do a national title double until his unfortunate accident. People put this all down to him having 4 seasons of learning the ropes, developing as an athlete. Perhaps the same can be said of Froome. Very few riders rock up and smash their first big race and are team leaders from the off.

    • gmop

      Good points – i still like to think its not all about w/kg. [though I still have some doubts on Froome, this data ‘dump’ presents as a bit to calculated to be taken as fully credible].

    • Brad Fry

      Yup, and was never a protected rider until later either. Also, not trained by the very best until well into the 2000’s – need to give Brailsford and Kerrison (even as an Australian). Think about whether Sky would have ‘prepped’ him to win and then had him smash Wiggins in the 2013 TdF, if nothting else, very poor PR. Just a few thoughts!

  • jakub

    It is a known fact in the published literature that lab tests tend to underestimate compared to tests on road by approximately 10-15% (see e.g. Validation of a field test to Determine the maximal aerobic power in triathletes and endurance cyclists, Br J Sports Med 2007; 41:174-179). In his autobiography, Froome claims that his peak 30-minute power before winning the 2013 Tour was 459 W (measured during an effort up the Col de la Madone). Compared to 420W measured in the lab, this is an increase of approximately 9%. Using his claimed Tour weight of 67 kg, this puts him at striking 6.85 W/kg for 30 minutes.

    • beev

      Mmmmm. The main eyebrow raisers from this data for me are two things;
      – Within the data, the level of body fat. 17%! So, Sky had the raw CF 2007 data in 2010 (excess fat and bilharzia included), applied “marginal gains”, and yet were prepared to let CF leave pre Vuelta 2011 performance.
      – From using the data as reference (and this is where it is relevant to your point re on-road performances), when you consider his st.10 performance at the Tour, where he destroyed everyone. Sky states that final climb effort was “only” 5.78W/kg.

      On both points above it raises massive questions of Sky, and not CF.
      Perhaps this is why CF chose to do this totally independently of Sky, Kerrison & Brailsford et al.

      Maybe it’s just me, but i always sense a huge tension between DB & CF. They both know that they are good for each other professionally speaking – but that is absolutely all. There is no love there.
      So, good on CF for doing these tests.

      Now it would be good for someone, other than Sky, to fill in the gaps. 8 years is a long time….

    • ummm…

      Interesting argument


    Don’t get me wrong, these numbers are amazing, but he is surely not the only one able to produce them. Obviously his w/kg is important, so is his massive VO2, but there are other factors that add up to him being a grand tour winner. I think a lot of pros can produce these similar numbers in a test. But maybe they can’t produce them at the end of a stage, or do as many efforts. To me the efficiency is a big part of what makes a WT pro. As sport continues, there will always be special people that push the boundaries on what we think is humanly possible. We used to think that a 4 min mile was not possible, but Banisters record has been improved on 18 times now.

    • Oldan Slo

      Ya! And the last time the mile record was broke was 1999. In the middle of the EPO era. But not since. Hmmmm … .


        We should just all give up on sport as everyone is cheating. At least Zwift is safe, oh wait…

        • Oldan Slo

          No, you fail to understand the difference between relative event performance and absolute records. Every year someone will win the Tour de France. If every rider is clean, then the winner will be clean. But there are no guarantees that someone will break an absolute record. And that mile record looks a little suspicious, as do a number of other track and field records. In those cases you are competing against dopers. There can be plenty of mile races won by clean runners but not approach the time of the record.

  • Paolo

    Ok, so now there are some numbers from a test that was done purely to publish the results. Who can guarantee that Froome went full gas and the max numbers are actually a maximum and not 95%?

    • Peter

      Good point.

    • ummm…

      I second this notion. This whole exercise was to deny his guilt, but apparently not prove innocence. Anyhow, how can he with all we know about cycling and pro sport since the original Olympics in Greece. Take this stuff with a grain of salt like the rest. Just dont race, and dont have your kids race as a professional goal and we dont have to worry about it. In fact the extra drama helps these blogs get clicks

    • Andy B

      He was likely not in the same form as coming in to the tour as well

  • Brad Fry

    So sad, “prove you are clean”, or be judged.

    • ummm…

      lol, how is that sad? Its like saying to the Thieves Guild – “it is such a shame you guys have to prove you didnt steal the milk”.

  • Flash

    I know, this may not be right, But – WHO CARE’S.
    I am sick and tired of drugs, drugs and more drugs.
    Lets look at the future, the young guns coming through etc etc.
    As soon as I see biological passports, VO2 max tests, % of bodyfat, scientific paper, data, blood data points, longitudinal data, haemoglobin level, watts per kg etc etc- I just want to scream.
    Where are the cogs, chain rings, wheels, strategy etc etc.


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