Contador on Recovery

So this is really a performance question more than a doping question per se, but something that was knawing at me ever since Contador brought it up yesterday, and after today's Giro TT I fear I'd just get "take it to the clinic", despite the fact that I'm not necesarily implying anything. He said:
“Richie has placed a thousand bets on this stage, and so has Urán,” Contador said. “We’ll have to see how my shoulder holds up, but the most important thing these past few days is that my legs are starting to feel much better. The big difference in a grand tour is each rider’s ability to recover.
How true do you guys think this is? In the three week slog of a Grand Tour, are we marvelling at, more than his strength or explosiveness, an athlete's ability to recover?
 
Apr 3, 2011
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irondan said:
The ability to recover is what sets stage hunters apart from GC riders. One of the most important physical traits a GC rider can have IMO.

but still, he should not try to "recover" much more than he already does, would be ridiculous to gain 5 min per day in the next mountain stages (unless we go to the literal Copenhagen interpretation of "re" and especially "cover" in the UCI Verdrugged sense)
 
I do wonder though to what extent recovery is a synonym for how good you are as a responder/ amount you are doping.

Seems to me that while drugs obv help with speed, climbing ability etc, the part of the sport where their effect really will be stratospheric is recovery. To be able to use drugs to address the toll stages take on the muscles, the body, the blood etc.

Is anyone born with such "naturally" good recovery that they could compete with someone who is blood doping 3 weeks into a gt?
 
Mar 13, 2009
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The Hitch said:
I do wonder though to what extent recovery is a synonym for how good you are as a responder/ amount you are doping.

Seems to me that while drugs obv help with speed, climbing ability etc, the part of the sport where their effect really will be stratospheric is recovery. To be able to use drugs to address the toll stages take on the muscles, the body, the blood etc.

Is anyone born with such "naturally" good recovery that they could compete with someone who is blood doping 3 weeks into a gt?
not to the degree that a natural recovery can compare to doping recovery, insulin, testo, hgh, and especially the anti-inflammatories: cortisone, corticosteroids, corticoids

in the 80s era, the cortisone family products used to be the PED du jour.
 
EPO is used as a recovery drug by track sprinters (more red blood cells => faster oxygen replenishment => recovery). And the more VO2 boosters you use, the easier each stage is (less need for recovery in the first place). So lots of drugs help with recovery.

As to the question of whether recovery is the most important aspect for a GT rider, no, it's just one thing you need. As Brian Holmes has pointed out, Cav has exceptional recovery but is not a GC contender.
 
Jun 27, 2009
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Indurain and LeMond had great recuperative powers too, dunno how much is chemically enhanced, but it would take a superior physiology and decent genetics to start off with....
 
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[url=http://forum.cyclingnews.com/viewtopic.php?p=1716226#p1716226 said:
S2Sturges[/url]"]Indurain and LeMond had great recuperative powers too, dunno how much is chemically enhanced, but it would take a superior physiology and decent genetics to start off with....
From what I have read, all three were freaks in the engine department. Armstrong and Lemond were exceptional when young, not sure about Indurain. Armstrong was supposedly beating senior triathletes as a junior, Lemond was freakishly good from a young age. Armstrong won the Worlds at 20 or 21. Indurain was unusually heavy for a good climber, probably more like Ulrich, with the great TT adding to the climbing ability. They were both power climbers. Merckx also was not a light build for a great climber.
 
Just look at Franco Pellizotti. Always has been one of the greatest climbers within the peloton, but pre and post CERA he just misses enough recover ability.

That said, you can make up recovery disadvantages with a good program. But you can't make up talent + recovery. Just look at Porte!

Okay, there was Eugeni Berzin. But back in 1994 a naturally low hematocrit value actually was a physical talent!
 
Contador has a big recovery, but not the best possible.There are people better in that, The point with Contador is that he is good in almost everything. and although there are some riders better in almost everything than him, it is difficult to be better than him averall, and he is as well clever.

Doping is key on recovery, but we show as yesterday, despite the TTT of Astana in Maddonna di campliglio, the were 10 minutes slower than Pantani 52, that rider that with his natural hematocric, yesterday would be 10 minutes, but behind Landa.
 
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Taxus4a said:
Doping is key on recovery, but we show as yesterday, despite the TTT of Astana in Maddonna di campliglio, the were 10 minutes slower than Pantani 52, that rider that with his natural hematocric, yesterday would be 10 minutes, but behind Landa.
They climbed a further 3.3km this year.
 
Pantani was the maximal combination between sheer talent, and maximum doping benefits. What he did in 98 and especially 99 was simply inhuman. Because that's what's happening if you give the best climber ever, the best doping medicine ever. Peak Pantani 99 has probably produced the best ever gt performance in history. Better than Contador, Armstrong, Indurain, Anquetil, Merckx etc.. He would've outclimbed all their peak performances easily while limiting his losses in the time trial. Just look what kind of guys he declassed in 99 with ease. Heras, Gotti, Jalabert, Savoldelli, Simoni. Tonkov, Zülle and Ullrich in 98. Former, future gt stars were dropped like school kids.

What I want to say is: we should stop using Pantani as a reference to anyone. It's just unfair. If you put a scary-crazy talented man, on a scary-crazy doping program and he responds scary-crazy positive to it. Then you get scary-crazy legendary inhuman performances that will never ever be equalled again, although he rode a *** aluminum frame and today everything is high-tech.

Contador definitely has a great recovery. No matter if he helps himself with doping or not. Just remember how broken Scarponi, Nibali, Kruijswijk and Purito were after that brutal 2011 Giro? They were still draught out at the Vuelta. Contador managed to be at least competitive at the Tour. You can't make up that much only with doping imho. There must be a plenty amount of talent already, to better it so much with a good program.

Well, unless you're in a Sella 08 or Berzin 94 scenario of course!
 
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King Boonen said:
Do you ride a bike? Ever done a massive ride one day and tried to go out the next? And the next? And the next? And so on... Recovery is extremely important.
Yeah, but in the riding I've done it's a minor advantage. I feel I've got really good recovery and relative the guys at a similar level, sure, I seem to be the fresher rider after a few days. But unless someone really bonks, and that's usually understood to be someone else, I've never really felt stronger than a generally fitter rider, even on a third day of hard riding (never really done more). Like Scrappy-doo I'll be more up for it than just about everyone, but when the denouement comes it's going to be really hard to keep up with the leads. So yeah, sure recovery is important, but it never felt to me like THE decisive factor both when I'm out there and even when I'm watching the pros race (maybe I tend to extrapolate a little to much from my obviously relatively supremely limited cycling experience).

proffate said:
As to the question of whether recovery is the most important aspect for a GT rider, no, it's just one thing you need. As Brian Holmes has pointed out, Cav has exceptional recovery but is not a GC contender.
Great takes on this this thread. But again Contador, almost unarguably the best GC rider of his generation, called it "THE big difference" in grand tour racing. It's not something I've heard expressed quite as categorically, and a factor I considered particularly crucial. Again, extrapolating from my own experience, its like getting a good night sleep before a test, hugefor getting the best out of yourself, but hard to imagine it being THE key factor differentiating individual performances, which is how I understood Contador's comment. I found it a very significant thing to say in the context of cycling, and it seemed the have been borne out yesterday as much it ever has been since I've followed cycling.

The Hitch said:
Is anyone born with such "naturally" good recovery that they could compete with someone who is blood doping 3 weeks into a gt?
Yeah, this seems like particularly tough bone to chew on.
 
I also want to get into this on the age thread, but this is another area that is often discussed too generally. Fitness, power, recovery, all need a good catch all term, but their discussion needs to be specific.

A few things. There are several components of recovery, but we need to start with stressors first:
- Frequency
- Intensity
- Volume

These stressors stress your energy levels, endocrine systems, muscle structure and other mechanical pieces. The stress on metabloic systems is pretty temporary; lactate clears quickly, blood buffers quickly, so not relevn to day-to-day recovery.

So these are the general factors that affect recovery. Frequency is a big toll on the endocrine system; 1-day races won't hit it as hard. Refillying energy stores is hard, but an athlete has more control with good nutrition and targeted training for th event. Same with managing muscle damage: good training and interentions through nutrition, sleep and massage give the athlete more control. These last two are most affected by concious decisions, while hormone levels have been shown to be much hard to manage (cleanly).

Recovering from each stressor is a different monster.

But other pieces matter. Not just your ability to recover, but your capacity for each stress. The effect of each effort and its stress is not linear. Someone may not "recover" any of those systems as well as another athlete, but if they are all submaximal efforts, the first can still out last. Similarly, one athlete may not be as taxed in one area, (even if their capacity is lower), requiring less "recovery" to get back to 100%

So to say that Contador has good recovery isn't very useful. Does he have a bigger capacity or glycogen storage? Or a better ability to replenish glycogen? Two different abilities. Is is endocrine system less effected by hard efforts, or is he so good the effort doesn't trigger as much of a stress hormone response?

That being said, you'll be able to see how drugs fit into this.
 
Robert millar was quoted in the Moore book as using his own doctor to help put back in what racing had taken out = good recovery.
Others thought this was just a naive cover for doping.
In contadors case, the key seems to be his knowledge of how much he can give, and still ride the next day/tour.
This giro, while hard for everyone, hasn't had him totally on the limit yet, and I doubt if it will in week 3 now he's got a big lead over someone who has dug deeper most days
 
SKY's warm down to improve recovery, no? They take it pretty seriously, as do others now - the warm down part of helping recovery, that is.

2011 TdF, Andy was complaining afterwards that his stage win in the mountains stuffed his recovery up for the ITT the next day. He was complaining that he had to spend over 2 freezing hours in doping control at the top of the mountain, trying to pee in the bottle, and at the same time not able to consume any recovery "shakes". All the while, Cuddles was already back down the mountain and in the team hotel getting warm/fed/massaged/etc... Andy credits this with his complete capitulation in the TT to lose the GC...
 
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Archibald said:
SKY's warm down to improve recovery, no? They take it pretty seriously, as do others now - the warm down part of helping recovery, that is.

2011 TdF, Andy was complaining afterwards that his stage win in the mountains stuffed his recovery up for the ITT the next day. He was complaining that he had to spend over 2 freezing hours in doping control at the top of the mountain, trying to pee in the bottle, and at the same time not able to consume any recovery "shakes". All the while, Cuddles was already back down the mountain and in the team hotel getting warm/fed/massaged/etc... Andy credits this with his complete capitulation in the TT to lose the GC...
Plus the fact that he wasted energy on the next stage as did Voeckler and he can't ride a TT to save himself. His TT result was not too bad by his usual standards. Evans was simply stronger and fresher by the time the TT came around. Plus he was always a better TT rider than Andy. I still can't believe Evans lost the 2008 Tour to Sastre but then again I think Sastre was fresher and and recovered better. Sastre's TT was unusually good for him but he had the form and rode a smart race, winning it with one attack and being well protected by his team. CSC had a formidable team that year. The chances were that one of the three CSC riders was going to win the race even though Evans was favourite in the eyes of many.
 
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The Hitch said:
I do wonder though to what extent recovery is a synonym for how good you are as a responder/ amount you are doping.

Seems to me that while drugs obv help with speed, climbing ability etc, the part of the sport where their effect really will be stratospheric is recovery. To be able to use drugs to address the toll stages take on the muscles, the body, the blood etc.

Is anyone born with such "naturally" good recovery that they could compete with someone who is blood doping 3 weeks into a gt?

That's the eternal problem with this discussion. Are they recovering because of dope or natural ability? Take two riders, one slightly better over a single day but one who recovers faster. Does dope bring the second rider up to the level of the first and he recovers better? Does the first rider not respond as well or is he not doping? Is the first riders ability over a single day enough to cancel out the second riders recovery gains? And so on, it all becomes very complex. I think the only thing we can say is that all things being equal, recovery is very important over longer races, particularly when you hit the high mountains for multiple stages.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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The other argument is:

Rider 1 FTP: 6.4W/kg
Rider 2 FTP: 6 W/kg

Rider 1 can appear to have better recovery than Rider 2, purely because when the going gets tough, he's operating at 6% below his FTP as he follows Rider 2 up the climb, but Rider 2 is at 100% of FTP.

You never see Rider 1 being pushed, so never get to gauge his true, unleashed capacity. Over time, he appears to be recovering better, when in actual fact he's just not being pushed to the same subjective level as Rider 2.
 
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carton said:
King Boonen said:
Do you ride a bike? Ever done a massive ride one day and tried to go out the next? And the next? And the next? And so on... Recovery is extremely important.
Yeah, but in the riding I've done it's a minor advantage. I feel I've got really good recovery and relative the guys at a similar level, sure, I seem to be the fresher rider after a few days. But unless someone really bonks, and that's usually understood to be someone else, I've never really felt stronger than a generally fitter rider, even on a third day of hard riding (never really done more). Like Scrappy-doo I'll be more up for it than just about everyone, but when the denouement comes it's going to be really hard to keep up with the leads. So yeah, sure recovery is important, but it never felt to me like THE decisive factor both when I'm out there and even when I'm watching the pros race (maybe I tend to extrapolate a little to much from my obviously relatively supremely limited cycling experience).
I suppose it depends if you are riding or racing and the difference between the competitors. I ride with several clubs as I don't race, so some weeks I'll go out with the fast guys on my usual Saturday ride and then the fast guys again on Sunday. I can hang with both groups reasonably well and if it's a fairly consistent pace/effort I won't drop anymore on the second day than on the first (The guys on the Saturday tend to be quicker anyway). If either group really kicks it off I struggle to keep up, but I can sprint and do fast climbs much better on the first day than the second day. If I ride with the same guys twice, there are some who seem faster on the second day than the first day and some who just explode with two days hard riding (and every point in between) but only if there are constant changes in pace so it only really becomes apparent in racing.

But bare in mind that both of these rides are actually training rides, everything changes in a race and I'd really struggle to hold on to breaks on the second day in that situation. Extend that over three weeks and it gets even more exaggerated.

It may seem like the base ability is the deciding factor, and it could be, but I'd reckon the guy with the greater base ability is likely to be the guy who recovers best anyway in the pro ranks.
 
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Dear Wiggo said:
The other argument is:

Rider 1 FTP: 6.4W/kg
Rider 2 FTP: 6 W/kg

Rider 1 can appear to have better recovery than Rider 2, purely because when the going gets tough, he's operating at 6% below his FTP as he follows Rider 2 up the climb, but Rider 2 is at 100% of FTP.

You never see Rider 1 being pushed, so never get to gauge his true, unleashed capacity. Over time, he appears to be recovering better, when in actual fact he's just not being pushed to the same subjective level as Rider 2.
Good point. It's an extremely complex situation and something that's very hard to work out, especially when we are talking about pro riders where the differences may be very small.
 
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Dear Wiggo said:
The other argument is:

Rider 1 FTP: 6.4W/kg
Rider 2 FTP: 6 W/kg

Rider 1 can appear to have better recovery than Rider 2, purely because when the going gets tough, he's operating at 6% below his FTP as he follows Rider 2 up the climb, but Rider 2 is at 100% of FTP.

You never see Rider 1 being pushed, so never get to gauge his true, unleashed capacity. Over time, he appears to be recovering better, when in actual fact he's just not being pushed to the same subjective level as Rider 2.
Sounds a lot like last year's Nibali in the TDF.
 

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