What "type" of cyclist are you? (Coggan chart analysis)

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.

http://www.cyclingsupportz.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/074-1.jpgCoggan Chart

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 :sweat_smile:
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?

I couldn’t tell but, If you are referencing WKO+ there is a chart under the “Power Profile PacK” called the “PD Curve Profile S&W Chart”. S&W=strength and weakness. There you can ID to the second where you are “strong or weak”.

In general I think the whole notion of us regular joes being labeled a sprinter, pursuit, climber, all arounder etc…is a bit ludicrous. Train your weakness’es’s (WTH? how doth thouest spell that?) and race your strengths.


Great point! Perhaps a better topic for my thread should have been “How do you determine your strengths and weaknesses?” However, I still do think there’s merit in identifying with a specific “type” of cyclist. Mainly for the purpose of identifying a strength.

I don’t have TrainingPeaks, so I’m unfamiliar with the charts you’ve referenced. But I’ll +1 to your previous suggestion that TR pick up these metrics.

Here’s the thing about WKO4’s charting - it’s only based on the data you provide. Why that matters is because many of us, (certainly not all) train some specific way for particular events. WKO4 and my power profile would tell you I’m a TTer. Well, of course it would say that since the vast majority of my training for the last 12 years or whatever I have data for is training for triathlons. I almost never sprint, I don’t ride hard rollers and crits. It’s entirely possible I could be a better short power rider than TTer, or maybe more of an All-Rounder.

WKO4 and the Coggan power charts are only as complete as the data that goes into them. That’s why it’s good and fun for regular Joes like us to mess around periodically and try our hand at other stuff sometimes. E.g. I’m not racing tris this year for a few reasons, so I’m going to General Build and maybe a rolling road race specialty, and then I might do a short power build and race some crits just for the heck of it.

I’d bet after that I’ll have a much more complete set of data for my power profile.


That being said, if you feed the model good data to start at the beginning of a season/block, it’s relatively easy to keep the model tuned up.

The new chart (Best Times for Informal Testing v2) that one of the Facebook users made is really great for keeping your model accurate.

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Of course it’s not inherent to WKO4; I didn’t mean to imply it was something that was particular to that software. WKO4+ is the best software suite for cyclists and triathletes, IMO, but it’s expensive. Like any software - it’s only as good as what you put into it. The vast majority of us can get by with what comes with TrainerRoad, or on TrainingPeaks, or GarminConnect, or is provided free by Golden Cheetah. And the last three of those provide a bunch of data that doesn’t do much of anything to make us faster (and neither does our persistent fascination with TSS, FWIW).

While I’m as much of a data geek as anyone, I think most serious athletes probably spend too much energy looking at metrics and power profiles and don’t really see the limitations of them. Data is useful when it informs performance. It is not useful when it limits performance. Someone could put a whole career’s worth of data as a triathlete into WKO4 or Golden Cheetah, and it could spit back that they’re a TTer, and they’ll never realize that maybe physiologically they could excel at crits because they’ll just stick with what the expensive (or free!) software spit back at them.

This is akin to the discussion about W’ and W’balance, where theoretically it tells you how many matches you have and how often you can burn them. It’s silly and detrimental to performance to go into races thinking you have 6 matches and you can burn them 3:30 apart based on a mathematical model that has nothing to do with individual physiology and limited data sets.

16.25” calves on my frame … and that’s when I’m at my current weight of 155. I did a year or two of cycling when I was 12, I was overweight and would always grind, probably 60rpm
Now I’m lighter, psychologically, I find it easier now to spin around 100 most of the time. I’m surprised as well by how I go up hills.
Having said that, I really love that sweet spot, my cycling “nirvana” … does anyone else feel it? It’s very apparent when you have a tail wind; legs are slightly burning, you feel so smooth and elastic, like one well oiled machine as you produce perfect pedal strokes with a stiff torso and relaxed grip. Your heart rate is high, you’re feeling the hurt but deep down you just know you can hold that for a while.
For that reason I could see myself doing TTs in the future

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going back to your first question:

General strengths and weaknesses aren’t what is important, but rather what are your strengths and limiters as they pertain to your A and B events. Phenotype (all arounder, sprinter, TTer, and climber) is just a general characterization of your power duration curve. The details is what matters (points on the curve important for the A and B events). It is those areas that you can train to be good at what you want to achieve (i.e. you need to understand the detailed demands of the event).