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  • CyclingMe

    Thanks for talking about such an interesting topic. I’m glad to read this sort of articles about women’s road cycling.
    I may have an additional comment, as I suspect there may be a couple of small errors in the use/interpretation of the table.
    Just a couple of examples:
    1. The article says: ” the last minute of the race shows how impressive her win was. Fahlin averaged …7.66 W/kg … which already puts her in the ‘excellent’ category (domestic professional level)”; however, according to the table reported above, her effort was only at the lower end of A-grade.
    2. Similarly, “Brand … averaged … 5.19 W/kg … Her five-minute power puts her well into the ‘exceptional’ range for maximum power output on the Training Peaks chart.”; however, the table actually put her only in the A-grade category.

    I wonder if the table reflects the actual level of real competitions…
    In particular, given that the two examples above are from victories in World Tour races, I would think that – by definition – the power output required to achieve those results should fall into the “world class” category. However, the table put them two categories below (A grade). In my personal opinion, a table classifying world class performances as “A grade” may be misleading. As such, I would recommend to “the average rider” to avoid comparisons with such a table, especially if they want to know what one need to do to improve and how close one is to the top riders in the world. Instead, when it comes to understanding the demands of competitions, I’d suggest to look into published research.

    Kind regards

    PS: limitations of those tables are obvious in the Men as well, with Gaviria being classified as a domestique…

    • Pete

      The figures in the table – eg “one minute” – is not one minute at the end of a WT race.
      They would be one minute in for example an interval session of one minute reps.

  • SprintFinish

    Does this suggest an A Grade man could be competitive in a Women’s World Tour race?

    • Marc

      That’s about right. I was once on a training camp with a continental team and at the same time there was a women’s team there who where at the top level in women’s cycling. We decided to train together as we were both aiming to do lots of intensity after a period of doing base km’s. After one day we had to split up as they were holding us back. I had similar experiences in club races where categories are mixed, which is quite usual in the part of Europe where I was staying. Usually the best women had the level of the better A-grade riders, just under continental riders. These figures show the same thing.

      It shows why there generally isn’t as much attention for women’s sport and as much money in women’s sport as there is in men’s sport. When people watch sport, they want to see the best of the best. Women’s sport at the highest level is just slower than men’s sport at the highest level. And because it’s quite a bit slower, you can immediately notice the difference when watching women’s sport. That makes it less attractive to watch. AFL or champions league also attracts more spectators and interest than division 3 footy or soccer. And as a result players at the highest lever earn more money, as they generate more money.

      Women might put as much effort in as men, but it’s not the effort that you put in that gets you attention, it’s what the results of your efforts look like. Continental riders aspiring to be pro also put everything they have into their sport. But they also don’t get much attention, as they’re slower than WT riders, making their races less attractive for the general public.

      Men and women differ, as shown by these stats. It’s just a fact of life. Do I say that men are better than women? Generally speaking, in some areas they are, while in other areas they are outperformed by women. Do I say that men are more valuable than women? Absolutely not. We’re all human beings and we’re all as valuable as the other.

      • SprintFinish

        Even though they are slower the racing can still be entertaining; just as the lower categories of motorcycle racing can be entertaining.

        But I didn’t realize 293 watts for 18 minutes was incredible when I can do 330 watts over the same period and I’m just a low B Grader.

        • Marc

          A soccer match of my 8-year-old daughter can be entertaining. For the general public women’s sport is less entertaining as it’s too slow.

          • Simon E

            I suspect it’s less that women’s racing is “too slow” per se, more that it’s not matching expectations based on watching the men’s cycling.

            I also think that another factor in whether people are entertained by it is that viewers are not as familiar with women athletes, they don’t “know” them and their achievements, strengths and so on as well as men. In a men’s race we all know who goes well on a hilly puncheur’s course, who will contend for a flat sprint and who are the climbers. Unless you follow women’s racing you won’t know and often this means you won’t be as interested. Really understanding any sport – and getting more out of it – requires in investment in time, one which I think a good number of viewers aren’t ready to make for women like they would (or have done) for men. The lack of coverage in the media is part of this issue, but that itself is a chicken-and-egg thing based on the perceived level of interest.

        • Liam O’Dea

          I’m assuming you weigh more than 50kg?

          • SprintFinish

            That’s a good point. I weigh 74kg so my power to weight is well below hers. On a climb she should smoke me but would struggle against a top A Grader. What would the typical female cyclist weigh? 57kg? Women rarely look as ripped as pro men so is it fair to say their higher fat percentage is holding them back from achieving the ridiculous power to weight ratios of men?

            • DaveRides

              It’s not so much whether it’s fair to say, but whether it’s true.

              And it is. That’s just a fact of human physiology.

            • Andrew O’Neill

              @sprintfinish:disqus – 5.7w/kg for 18 mins is exceptional. Some of the NRS (domestic pro’s) men could maybe manage that fresh, but not at the end of a tough days racing.

      • Andrew Gleeson

        My 2c is that it goes to show the performance enhancing power of testosterone.

        Also, just like in F1 where no one can tell if cars are 3-5 seconds quicker just by looking – it’s all about the closeness of the racing, and I feel this applies perfectly to womens cycling. IMO you don’t need uber-watts to make for exciting and unpredictable racing. The tactics and race-craft that we can all appreciate are very much there.

        For the record I would be getting dropped, and dropped hard by these women.

      • jules

        Disagree. People like to see humans at the outer edge of their performance. Cycling is slow, compared to motorbike racing. But we allow for that, acknowledging the handicap imposed by cycling. It’s inherently the same for women’s sport. Where women’s sport is at a disadvantage is the intensity of competition. But that isn’t their fault and can change.

      • rmonster

        That’s not how racing works. If that were true, nobody would watch any sort of car racing other than F1. Fastest = best, right?

        Well, no. I mean, F1 can be great, but some people like NASCAR. Some people like LeMans style races.

        If you look at women’s pro CX, the numbers of viewers are starting to draw even. The actual racing—the competitiveness, the drama—is far better in the women’s field and has been for a number of years. On twitter, there’s even a contingent that has taken to calling a boring race (Wout or Mathieu goes off the front, stays there until the end, Kevin Pauwels takes third, the end) a men’s race.

        “Ugh, I’ll come back in 40 minutes. This is such a men’s race today.”

        The men are *undoubtably* faster. Like, the lap times are at least 1-2 minutes faster, but the racing isn’t better. So is the problem that people don’t want to watch women’s racing because it’s not as fast, or because it doesn’t have the exposure, or the right setup or what?

        I skip watching most of the road season with the exception of Paris-Roubaix (I might watch some other races, but I almost ALWAYS watch PR). It’s just a great race. There’s drama, and action and it’s amazing. I bet I would watch it if women were racing it too.

      • Rodrigo Diaz

        Based on that logic a “slower” mountain stage would be less exciting than a flat field sprint. Or in a different sport, a boxer like Mayweather is “worse” than Bermane Stiverne. He’s not.

        In many races, women’s events are much more exciting than the men’s. Maybe it’s because the peloton is smaller? But a good example is the London Olympics. That was a cracker of a race, not so much the men’s. Having a spattering of high-quality women events in my whereabouts I am convinced they are compelling.

      • Superpilot

        Even if they may be slower than elite men, female elite cyclists are the elite level of their category.

        Can world championship go-kart racing be as exciting as F1? Yes, some may argue because it is generally much closer that it can in fact be more exciting from an entertainment standpoint.

        Men need to stop comparing female riders to males, and just enjoy the spectacle. E.g. Conti level can be as exciting as pro level, if you are invested in it as a fan (have a favorite team or rider).

        The Olympic road race for women was easily the equal of the mens from an entertainment perspective.

        If you invest your interest in a womens event it can be exciting and fun, whether that be the much maligned womens football or rugby. I really enjoy the segues to the Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen while the Ronde is on. If you decide to be a fan, you can still enjoy it.

        Womens cycling needs to stay well away from sexualizing the combatants. This is what the majority of men want to happen (whoar look at her!). Surfing has done this and I find it really tragic, sexualizing themselves to get the sponsorship dollar from companies run by men. Ew.

        To me, the coverage of womens cycling over social media, tv, even the articles here, they are much more real, emotional, and fun than the drab pr trained responses you often get on the mens side (some exceptions of course). Lots more smiling in the coverage. It just looks like more fun to me to be honest.

        Just most men choose not to be fans and that is their choice. I agree, if there was a womens TDF, the men would get around France quicker. But the battles in the womens race could be just as exciting.

        Often hear the womens races always have no attacks and end in bunch sprints, no one is good enough to attack. Then we had wins from solo breakaways this year and the online comm enters were saying the field depth just obviously isn’t deep enough. FFS, these are the same guys wanting solo breakaways in the mens races, but that is because they are ‘just so strong’. Or they’ll happily watch the longest one day of the whole year end in a bunch kick at San Remo without batting an eyelid. Ugh.

        The constant need to espouse inferiority (not necessarily by you, but by many) just grinds my gears.

        Yes, we know, it’s slower. That doesn’t mean it can’t be good.

      • I always find these discussions (whether it is sport / business / some other aspect of life) interesting as there is always some man who makes a conjecture about why men > women.

        I’m pleased to see so many men below point out the absurdity of the statement “it shows why there generally isn’t much attention for women’s sport…”

        I’m pretty certain there are a hell of a lot more reasons women’s sport don’t get much attention than them being “slower”.

      • Cruz er

        mansplaining 101

    • Robert Merkel

      Your average A grade male amateur might be OK on the flat but would have no hope of producing 5.7 W/kg for 20 minutes to win a hillltop finish.

  • ac

    I heard at the national velodrome that best french women endurance track rider (L.Berthon) has a max power of 1300W and best sprinter (M.Gros) 1500W.
    M.Gros is only 17 years old.
    For the men sprinters it’s over 2000W

    • Superpilot

      Don’t forget a 25% difference in absolute watts can be accounted for by a 25% difference in weight. Female sprinter at 60kg compared to Male sprinter at 80kg. Saying that, on a pancake flat track, riders can overcome weight issues and watts become more impactful, weight/size would be more of an issue when accelerating from starts and out of turns, and overcoming aero. But the overall difference won’t be as clear as a simple 500W difference.

  • Willem Heydendael

    It would be interesting to revisit these numbers in 5-10 years time, or look retrospectively for numbers from 10 years ago (if available). My hypothesis is that we will see a move towards parity between the sexes with the power numbers for females increasing over time.

    It is important to keep in mind how comparatively new the whole concept of women’s sports is when compared with the men. One can only assume that there are women with incredible talent, physiological or otherwise, that never have gone into competition because it was never seen as a viable option the way it is for their male counterparts. As that level of talent is discovered and introduced, we will likely see the overall level of competition rise to the occasion.

    On a similar note, just think about all of the physiological talent that remains undiscovered due to social, economic, and political issues that prevail in many countries. I know we all love to think of Dideriksen or Vos, or even a Merckx or Sagan for that matter, as the pinnacle of human achievement, but I can’t wait for what the future may bring.

    Then cycling will just have to figure out how to attract the talent that would otherwise go to more lucrative sports.

  • Beefy Chief

    Come check out the First Look at the game!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZABBM2ANDE

  • Alex Simmons

    “Normalised power adjusts average power to take into account how frequently and by how much a rider lifted their power above their threshold power”

    Small point – the Normalised Power calculation is unrelated to and completely independent of threshold power.

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