Tour de France 2021 - Speculation and Gossip

This is a good read: Van der Poel's coach explains what makes him different from the rest of us - CyclingTips

I like this bit:

De Kegel preferred not to divulge too many raw numbers, but he said that Van der Poel set his all-time record for five-minute power en route to victory at Mûr-de-Bretagne on stage 2, holding 551 watts (7.35 W/kg) over five minutes on the punchy climb – after 180 km of racing and having put in a prior attack too.

Don’t know if the methodology is still the same but when vetooo, Ross Tucker and doc veloclinic started to popularise these calculations some ten years ago, rider weight was normalised to 70kg. This is going by my memory, so everyone please correct me if this is wrong.

More generally, Pogi is just out of this world ridiculous and taking the piss, but others have done really well too. Colbrelli almost takes the cake.

Aderlass showed that pretty low tech blood doping regime can still function well without tripping the blood passport and that domestiques resort to those methdos as well. Add to that the fact that governing bodies are fairly gingerish to pursue passport cases, which is kinda understandable given legal fees when running against big corporations or states, and there is quite some room to play with.

In the Aderlass news there were also mentions of possible artificial oxygen carriers (such as perfluorocarbons) use. As many will know, a certain Mauro Giannetti of UAE has first hand experience of using those.

Also worth scrutiny?

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Which is about the equivalent of 6.2 W/kg in terms of physiological human performance, according to Coggan:

And the figures in the Coggan chart are meant to be determined fresh legged.

Tadej is clearly not the only specimen of unbelievable human performance in the pro Peleton. With Wout, Ganna, MvdP probably being on a similar level in their respective category.

It is very likely that their state of doping is pretty similar. Either they all do it, or they all don’t do it.

I know I’m going to get a lot of hate for this, but I don’t really care if he’s clean or not. Just like I didn’t really care if Lance or any of his competitors were clean/dirty. I just want to watch exciting racing. I’m not saying you have to be cheating to make the race exciting or whether racing clean or dirty is better than the other. I’m saying simply that I like exciting, attacking racing. And I’m not too bothered if it comes out that somebody was doping. Same reason I’m not going to speculate on current riders. I just like watching racing.

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What’s that based on?

If you go back 40 years, no one would thought swimmers, runners, and just about everyone would be as strong and as fast as they are.

I’m sorry, but I’m not buying Coggan is the absolute authority on this. Rules of thumbs are just that, rules of thumbs.

< has done plenty of scientific and engineering modeling in other disciplines. I know full well the shortcomings of models and data collection. Consider how different power meters can vary 5% from one brand to another, and that alone can swing numbers greatly.

5% +/- at a real 350 watts could show up as 332w or 367w. That’s a big swing and hugely effects those w/kg charts. This is also why I take anyone’s self reported FTP or w/kg with a grain of salt.

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That Coggan chart is absolutely not meant to be used for the purpose you’re using it for. It’s one (admittedly well informed) man’s opinion of typical W/kg at different race categories, it’s not supposed to be an indicator of the upper limit of what’s naturally possible. Or the lower limit for that matter - you might just as well use this chart to tell somebody that tested at <1.86W/kg that that’s the lowest possible natural level and they’re clearly not trying hard enough…

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Exactly.

I’d almost put it on the psuedoscience side of things considering it wouldn’t withstand the rigors of being peer reviewed.

There is still a lot of psuedoscience in cycling and the opinions of just a small few have an out weighted impact on the community… biases and all.

Also, at the end of the day, you still have to ride the bike.

In motorsports, in spec classes (so equal equipment) certain drivers are always at the front. They just know how to operate and weaponize their car / bike. I’ve seen what would be considered pro fields, where people still get lapped.

Looking at the engine is only one facet.

Reasons why I am against cheating, which secretly consuming PEDs essentially is:

  • it us unfair: it creates unfair competition and robbs others, who may play fair of a chance of winning. Which really may be the greatest achievement in their life. Roglic losing the Tour or Küng losing his first ever stage win was pretty heart breaking. If that all was fair, then that’s just how life is, you can’t always win. But if it wasn’t fair, then they would have been unfairly denied the biggest success of their lives, which WOULD (not saying this happened) really suck!
  • Superstars of sports are role models. If they want or not. If I were an adolescent who is competing in the junior ranks of the 100m dash, I would at least know that becoming one of the greatest ever is not going to happen, if I am not on PEDs (or not Usain Bolt of course😒)
  • Drugs in general suck. I can’t think of any way in which being a better version of myself because of a drug addiction would be a positive thing….
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I think that’s what we all want—just a question of definition.

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I don’t really subscribe to the “What about the children?” line of argument. There are times when it should absolutely be a consideration, but I don’t believe this is one of those times.

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So Pog’s “press conference” yesterday lasted all of 12 minutes and all the questions were pre-screened. One softball question from l’Equipe re: be able to trust his performances (to which he replied “I’ve never tested positive.” :roll_eyes:

Such behavior does not do much to reassure people re: his performances.

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While I’m not in favor of legalizing doping, I see the bigger problem as the more rigorous the (imperfect) enforcement, the greater the distortions you see in performance/results. So suddenly you see all the top marathoners just happen to emerge from Kenya. Or more apropos of this discussion, you see the top GC men emerge from the US…then the UK…then Slovenia.

You don’t have the same silly level of anti doping enforcement in other professional sports—where doping is every bit as rife—so the playing field is more level.

That distortion, as well as distortions introduced by entities like the UCI putting their thumb on the scale, is what threatens to drag pro cycling into the realm of pro wrestling.

But out of competition is where the most gains are made I believe.

Does anyone recall how badly the anti-doping programmes were affected by the pandemic?

My cynicism at the time was that we would see some phenomenal performances from unexpected directions afterwards.

And I’m not pointing the fingers at anyone in particular. And people with crap performances might have been doping too.

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I think I am not really good at conveying what I mean by posting these charts or the Bicycling article.

I, of course, have no idea where the physical limitations of W/kg for an FTP or a 5 min max lie. I don’t even know where my own physical limitations are and I have definitely studied myself better than I have Van der Poel or Tadej.
This thread is meant to be for speculation, so I am writing what I am speculating.
I just take these charts and statements (6.2W/kg is the upper limit of natural human capability) as indications, not as evidence! The people that have made them definitely know more about it than I do, but don’t know everything either.

As for Coggan, my understanding is that the top power-to-weight levels shown are just (pretty much) the best recorded power for cyclists as of the time of creating this. So the best 5s from a world class sprinter, best 1&5 min from a Classics Champion and best 20 min from a world class climber.

I have used them more to put into context how incredible the power numbers of Matt and Pogi are, even in the context of world class athletes.

They don’t prove nothing, but that these guys are pretty extra-ordinary (duh).

My idea of this is more that several indications together hold more value as an argument, than one does in its own.
And for me it is:

  • the eye test says, something is off (the dominance of Pogacar is out of this world, and ranges from flattish tts, hilly courses to high mountains)
  • the power data compared to what other world class athletes (who we don’t know if natural or not) have produced in the past and experts of the sport claim is natural - is on the very very high side of things, likely above
  • the (solo!) climbing speed of Tadej is historically great. Like in better than the climbing speed of Contador, in his fastest ever climb, when he was on juice. He is as fast as a Prime Team Sky train on his own.
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On The Cycling Podcast earlier this year, they interviewed someone from either WADA or from UCI drug control, and they said that they did less testing in 2020, but only because they did less in-competition testing. Sounds like out of competition testing was relatively the same as before, I find the argument of a mass of doping during the pandemic to be pure speculation.

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Coggin doesn’t have access to that data. Maybe really good examples, but not absolutes.

Furthermore, measurements aren’t equal. If I take my race engine to several dynos, I’m going to get numbers that swing 10% or more. Even ones that are the same brand and calibrated. This is why OEM’s, F1, NASCAR, etc. have $1mil+ dyno cells, for repeatability in measurement.

Power meter’s precision to the correct value don’t scale linearly either. A power meter measurement can only be compared to that exact power meter and no one else’s. Even from the same brand / model.

This is why comparing power numbers are dumb. At 250w you could see 2% swings, at 500w, maybe 10%, at 1000w maybe 8%. Who knows. For Coggins table to stand up to scientific rigors, all power numbers need to be corrected and good luck doing that. Even weights… if you work in a scientific lab, you weigh a specimen multiple times and take the average of that. Body weights fluctuate all over the place over the course of a day and scales can be a little off. So multiply measurement error x more measurement error, and you realize how far off those charts can be. It’s a rule of thumb, and nothing more.

One thing that bugs me is that people are always searching for proof of the negative. Ultimately the only way that any elite athlete can have no clouds at all over their performance is to test positive. At least then people would know they were dirty. Absent this there will always be speculation.

What exactly do you want him to say to the question? Anything other than “Yeah, been doped up to the eyeballs for years” is just variations on a theme of No. The “I’ve never tested positive” answer, while seeming to be obstructive is the only way to point to anything that would be considered proof of the negative.

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All he has to say is “I have never doped, and as a result, I have never tested positive”. But he didn’t. He left the first part off. This is straight out of the cheaters playbook. If you’ve been around cycling long, you’ve seen it before.

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