I think for most of us, there comes a point in our training where we identify our physiological strengths and weaknesses. In my experience, this is informative to determine what “type” of cyclist we are. (Climber, All-rounder, Sprinter, Puncheur, etc…)
Many cycling coaches point to the Coggan chart to identify where one might lay on a power output scale in comparison to typical numbers from other cyclists. This gives a decent baseline for reference, but I’m not convinced it’s the end-all tool for metrics.
It’s very easy to assume a role based on body type. I.E.- skinny guys are climbers, and bigger folks are sprinters. However, I don’t think this is necessarily true. Factors like slow twitch vs. fast twitch muscle composition and VO2 max capacity are great indicators of potential or “type.”
Is there a better way to identify what “type” of cyclist you are? Or, put differently, how can we identify weak areas to put more work toward improving non-physiologically gifted skills?
As an example, I am a “bigger” rider. 6’2" 190lbs, former football/ice hockey player. I started seriously cycling about 2 years ago, and I’ve dropped 25lbs in the past year and a half in pursuit of not getting dropped on every dang hill. My top end power is higher - 5 Sec - 16.5 w/kg, and a have a very snappy sprint. I don’t train my sprint much, because I’ve never been able to hang on in a race to actually use it
According to the Coggan chart, my 1 minute power is lacking badly, sitting at the low end of “untrained” I sit somewhere near 3.6 w/kg in 5 min power, and ftp of 3.3 w/kg. I’ve seen my ftp increase about 100 watts over the past year, and I’m still making steady progress in both power and weight. My goal for this season is to hit 4.0 w/kg (and a lot of this will come from dropping more weight).
From this data, I’ve extrapolated that I’m probably a “sprinter” (and not just because I’m heavier than my 5’6" 150lb teammates). And I have been working my climbing and longer breakaway efforts to add some semblance of ability to those skills.
Where do you stack up, and what type of rider are you?