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  • winkybiker

    My benchmark is that on the known/measured climbs in Europe, the pros seem to do about twice my speed (I don’t do strava). So a 45 minute climb for them takes me the best part an hour and a half on a good day. So if I’m doing 15km/hr on a climb, they’d come past me at 30km/hr. Quite remarkable to think about. Also consistent with this article in terms of w/kg at threshold (I’m about a D-grade).

  • Adam Fuller

    I reckon I’d do a great job of hanging on through the neutral zone…

  • Nitro

    Great article. Always interesting to read how Pro the Pro’s are… and how absolutely Not Pro the rest of us are…
    The other thing that the Pro’s do – not something that cant be measured / quantified [But should be!] – is how easy they make it look / how quickly they recover.

    30 seconds after crossing the finishing line at the top of a Tour Alpine Stage, or the end of Milan San Remo, the winners are generally grinning, chatting to team staff, having a drink and looking like they’ve been out for a casual stroll.

    30 seconds after trying to set a new PB up Oliver’s Hill (or more likely a climb on Zwift), I’m trying to decide between throwing up and having a massive heart attack…

  • Schmuck123

    Yes, these numbers are very impressive. However, what is even more impressive is their ability to recover. Imagine doing 150K of hard riding and getting up the second day to do the same.

    • John Murphy

      Drugs help a lot with that.

  • Cruz er

    When you ride with some pros, you can see the quality straight away. As big a difference as the numbers show, the actual difference on the ground, in a pack, is far greater.

    • Wily_Quixote

      Dunno, I saw a youtube clip by a bloke named ‘durian rider’ who can obviously climb better than Ritchie Porte but chooses not to…..

      • Stompin


  • Andy Logan

    I remember I was watching the TdF a few years ago and Phil and Paul were talking about L’Etape which had happened on the same stage as the pro’s the day before of whatever. I think it was a Alp D’Huez stage. The guy that won that event, finished 20mins slower than the Groupetto finished the following day and he would of been fresh, vs the pro’s which had 15+ stages in their legs by this stage.

    Stupid strong!

    • Paul Thomson

      Yep, pretty much every year the Etape du Tour ‘winner’ is many minutes down on the last finisher of the Tour stage, where most are just saving themselves for survival rather than going ‘for the win’.

  • Spartacus

    Great article. Just a word of caution on using Coggan’s comparative table (as reproduced on TrainingPeaks) which appears at the beginning – much of the data relied upon by Coggan came from the EPO-era and so is artificially high. This is why many of the workouts based on that data are simply unachievable for the full set, and most athletes in the know now do their intervals at lower %s of FTP and LT than those set by Coggan, Carmichael etc.

    • Andy B

      This makes me feel better

    • Agree with the sentiment in your comment. There is a very strong selection bias in that sample.
      However, to clarify, Coggan’s comparative power table has not much to do with your training levels/intensities. It basically just shows you where your best efforts slot in in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like you as a 3 w/kg guy that wants to make it to the World Tour can just set your FTP at 6 w/kg an train at these levels.

      • Spartacus

        Sorry, I should have been clearer in demarking the two parts of my comment. My point on the training levels is that they are also based on what an EPO era athlete can sustain. For example, if the workout is for medium length Vo2 max intervals, say 8x Nseconds @120-150% FTP, most athletes can’t complete that full set within the power range. Most are more likely to be able to do the intervals properly @105-120% FTP.

    • Andrew Coggan

      None of the individuals who formed the top anchor point of the power profiling tables (which have been made obsolete by power-duration profling in WKO4) have ever been sanctioned for, or even reasonably suspected of, doping. (And as P3N54 pointed out, my power profiling tables and my training levels really have nothing to do with each other).

      • higoigoogk

        That’s highly unlikely given the amount of doping in the 90s and 00s. Either the power profiles are not from elite level riders, or they are (very likely) from doped riders.
        That they have never been sanctioned is not a very good argument.

        • Andrew Coggan

          It is simply a statement of fact. (BTW, I don’t know how one could possibly reach the conclusion that world champions/record holders are not elite level riders.)

          EDIT: More generally, there seem to be some misconceptions here about how the tables were constructed in the first place.

        • Eric Hancock

          Nice mansplain

          • Andrew Coggan

            I’m sorry if my statement of facts hurt your feelings.

            • Eric Hancock

              Ha ha – that wasn’t directed at you. Was responding to higoigoogk (sp?)

      • Spartacus

        Thanks for taking the time to reply and provide clarity Andrew. On training levels, see my comment below about it not being linked to the table per se, rather to what an EPO era athlete could sustain for a particular interval set. But you know your data sets, methodology and analysis better than anyone so I’m not going to presume to know better and am very happy to be corrected. I would also be really interested to understand a little more about how the table came into being because it seems to be pretty commonly believed (erroneously it seems) that it is based on data sourced from Ferrari and Conconi testing?

        • Andrew Coggan

          How I constructed the tables is described in the article I wrote back in 2002 introducing them. It is now mirrored here: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/power-profiling/

          I haven’t a clue as to why people think that Ferrari, Conconi, etc., had anything to do with the table (especially since they aren’t know for working with male track cyclists or women, period, data from whom form the top rank of 6 of the 8 columns). But, as I said before, there are certainly lots of misconceptions about the tables floating around out there.

  • david__g

    Yeah but my power to pint ratio has pros in tears.

    • Emil

      How do you measure that? Is it how much your FTP drops per pint, or how much power you can produce divided by the number of pints on any given day?

      • Andy Logan

        I think it’s how much power you can produce the following day surely? I reckon Stuey O’Grady would have a pretty high ftp/ptp personally!

    • Jos van Emden’s power file from the start of the 2017 Milan San Remo paints a picture of what’s required to stay in the bunch at the start of a one-day WorldTour race.

  • David Bonnett

    I always chuckle when you hear a pro described as “not a climber” or “not a sprinter” – they should have to caveat any such declaration with “but they would still absolutely kick any viewer’s arse up a mountain and on a charge to the finish!”

    • Lyrebird_Cycles

      Agree entirely: I remember watching Fabian Cancellara (famously “not a climber”) power up a hill in Geelong in 2010 and thinking how much I wished I couldn’t climb like he couldn’t.

  • Robert Merkel

    I’d be fascinated to see what WT pro sprinters can do at the end of a crit. It must be higher than what they do at the end of road stages, because the domestic pros would do these kind of numbers sometimes and still mostly lose to the WT pros if the pros are motivated.

    That or they just wind it up hard enough in the last few laps to tire the locals out.

    • Emil

      It probably depends on the pro in question. Aussie Caleb Ewan is the national crit champion, but it’s not certain that the others would put out much more than they already do, given that their training is for sprints at the end of long, hard endurance efforts, not short, sharp stop/start racing like a crit

  • velocite

    I assume that to a major extent what we’re looking at here is genetics, ie the pros are people who were genetically blessed in a cycling way. Or to put it another way, if I trained full time I’d improve but fall far short of pro level. I do wonder, though, about what’s going on. What is it in the make up of a pro that makes him/her so much more powerful over time? Circulation? Mitochondria? Muscle composition?

    • Josh

      High anaerobic capacity, High Lactate Inflection Point, High VO2 max, strong cardiac muscles, very efficient body systems etc

      • velocite

        Indubitably. But I’m curious about the differences in bodily composition. For example, what is it about Cadel that causes his high VO2 max? Strong cardiac muscles? Are they bigger, or stronger per kg? If stronger, why?

        • David Bonnett

          Check out Faster by Michael Hutchinson: https://cyclingtips.com/2014/05/book-review-faster-the-obsession-science-and-luck-behind-the-worlds-fastest-cyclists/
          He hits on a lot of these topics in a nicely packaged story.

          • Steven Andrews

            A superb book indeed. In his conclusion it was interesting that he calculated his performance had only improved by a very small percentage between his first ever race and the apex of his career despite structured training, altitude tents, lightweight/aero everything, specific diet etc.
            Genetics indeed.

          • Eric Hancock

            Definitely a good read

    • John Murphy

      Another factor of genetics is how much benefit they gain from performance enhancing drugs.

      • Patrick Murphy

        give it a rest

  • Patrick Murphy

    “That being said, Van Emden is a seasoned professional cyclist so his bunch skills would be of high quality, allowing him to make the most of the draft of the peloton”. This is a key line imo, I’d guess amateurs waste incredible amounts of energy through poor positioning, as a newcomer to road racing and crits this something I learning. The quicker I stop getting excited and trying to either make a break or pull one back the better I’ll be!

  • Stewie Griffin

    Hardest race I’ve done this year had a normalised power of 336watts, 285 watts average over 90 minutes at 68kg. Didn’t feel too shabby about that. Then I saw Thomas De Gendt’s powerfile of last sunday. Averaging 306 watts over 5 hours, NP of 341 watts at 68 kg. And he’s got a 10 minute effort at 460 watts in there on the first climb. A puny human I am. Very admirable athletes they are.

  • ?ack Dennis?n

    Tour de France Satge 3 last year. Barely 33 kmph for the first hour or so. 36.8 kmph average for the day with one climb taken at about 20kmph. Only problem would be the 220 km distance and the 50 kmph run in to the finish for the last 30 km. Maybe one could make the time gap after getting dropped.

  • Nick White

    Insightful article, after looking at those numbers I might stop cycling and take up another sport like curling.

    • Wily_Quixote

      Just bear in mind that it is their day job.

      They would probably be shite at whatever it is that you do for a living.

      besides, have you seen the power output on those curlers? It’s insane!

      • John Murphy

        They’re also on performance enhancing drugs.

        • Justin Evans

          GO AWAY!

      • Patrick Murphy

        I’m pretty sure Adam Hansen would be better than me at anything he felt like doing!

  • Stupidly cool data, great article.


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