How have race tactics changed with the decline of doping?

Sep 19, 2012
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How have race tactics changed with the decline of doping?

* Are there fewer solo breakaways miles from the end?
* Does it change whether you attack on the final mountain or an earlier one (since EPO aids recovery)?
* Is EPO of much use for sprinters (apart from helping them keep up with the grupetto)? Any differences in usefulness between rouleurs, domestiques, team-leaders, climbers?
* Does it change the body type best suited for contesting the climbs? E.g. light Columbian climbers were beaten by Ullrich/Indurain etc. Could Ullrich have won the Tour if everyone were clean (would still have rocked the TTs)?
* How does it change strategy over the 3 weeks? Why were transfusions generally done on the rest days - more time, more privacy or since they cause an initial decline in performance (see Tyler’s book)?
* How does it change team tactics - do leaders get more or less support? (I guess this depends on whether the domestiques are doping).
* Does doping lead to more attacks with sudden acceleration? (c.f. Contador and Schlecklet in the 2010 Tour).
* How much does doping affect the general aggressiveness of racing? Who do you think the most aggressive riders are in today's peloton (a rather loaded question, I know...)?
* Is it possible to get a general idea of general levels of doping and/or potentially doped riders from the 'racing style'?
* How do riders/doctors decide when to withdraw blood during the racing schedule? Why was the Dauphine such a popular race to be 'under-prepared' for (c.f. LA)? Is it of fitness/training benefit to race with blood removed (c.f. altitude/hypoxic training)?

- Argyle_Fan (moved from JV talks, sort of Thread)
 
Sep 19, 2012
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Copied discussion from other thread:

Argyle_Fan said:
Changing the subject temporarily:

...

* Does it change the body type best suited for contesting the climbs? E.g. light Columbian climbers were beaten by Ullrich/Indurain etc. Could Ullrich have won the Tour if everyone were clean (would still have rocked the TTs)?
..
- Argyle_Fan
PremiereEtape said:
I think this point in particular is really interesting, and something I find myself asking and not really sure if its doping specific. I think it comes down to two points more so than the doping :-

1. Race design
2. Style of the rider

If you note with the people you mentioned, Ullrich, Indurain and if I throw another name in the hat, Wiggins, you'll see that they werent really renowned for their punchy accelerations, but instead churned big gears and knew a constant pace would break most of their competitors. For this tactic to work, you need some strong teammates to stay with you.

The alternatives are guys like Robert Millar, Pantani or dare I say it some aspects of Armstrongs riding, where they were capable of punchy attacks that would put those in group A(Indurain, etc) in some difficulty, because when you're moving a constant big gear, you need to ride tempo and the climbers stop you doing it.

This is where the design of the race comes in, because heavy time trials and long alps / giro-type climbs suit the big gear guys, and the steeper and shorter pyraneean climbs I would think aid the climbers. Of course, Pantani proves me completely wrong on this point, but Robert Millar aids it!

I think Ullrich, Contador, Armstrong and the rest would always be great racers (though I doubt armstrong could have been the GC rider he was) , and that is what is so sad with this whole doping thing. They could have been great anyway, but instead they have to destroy their reputations needlessly through doping.
 
Aug 13, 2010
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When you say decline of doping do you mean less people are doping or that just as many people are doping but in smaller amounts? If, the former then I am not sure that many people would believe your premise in the first place.
 
Jul 15, 2010
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With dope:

Being able to ride all out day after day after day without needing to worry what shape you'll be in tomorrow. No one has bad days with dope.

The only other thing I would say is that there are less tactics on the final climbs of stages. Everyone basically just sprints to the top. A lot less gamesmanship.
 
Sep 19, 2012
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Don't be late Pedro said:
When you say decline of doping do you mean less people are doping or that just as many people are doping but in smaller amounts?
I wouldn't really know, but my guess would be a combination.

Don't be late Pedro said:
If, the former then I am not sure that many people would believe your premise in the first place.
I guess it could affect racing in terms of team tactics i.e. tactics required to beat a generally doped vs. a generally clean peloton - e.g. it could affect how many riders make the selections, which could have a knock-on effect. But I wouldn't really know, which is why I'm asking the question!

- Argyle_Fan
 
Jul 14, 2009
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SRM data and huge pools of start money have changed bike racing way more than doping. Facebook and alike have probably done more to change bike racing more than even a tiny squirt of EPO. The number of names that cycling fans and non to semi cycling fans recognize is greater than at anytime during the sport.
TV coverage and social exchange have made guys like Jonny Hoogerland and Jens Voight not only accessible but marketable to race audiences worldwide. 20 years ago there may have been just as many racers but the fan base was very specialized.
Jens wins zip but is a fan fav in the US. Fabian Cancellara speaks with an accent judged silly when Arnold Swartzcheater does it but American fans eat it up.
Doping didn't create all these new revenue streams and ultra knowledgeable cycling fans the internet did, the race tactics have changed dramatically with the number of cycling news outlets, stay on the screen or in the cameras lens for 2 weeks and enjoy possibly years of recognition and revenue afterwards.

If you want to get something out of bike racing don't dope,just pay off Bob Roll,Golgoski,Schlanger or the other king makers Sherwin and Liggett. Once they comment on how heroic you are or how great a guy you are the rest of your race career is at the bank. Half of the new race tactics are taking a doomed flyer for TV coverage instead of any win calculations . The race within the race. Race tactics in US coverage all hardly mentioned, inattentive race fans may not even remember who won the event, rather instead have the back story of some other losing rider etched in their mind.
to the unknowing the win is everything but now one tactic is to participate with great oscillation and get as much or more from that than the win.
 
Sep 19, 2012
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Ferminal said:
Decline in doping relative to..?
2012 relative to the EPO era was what I was originally meaning to ask about.

And more generally just how race tactics have co-evolved with progress in doping/anti-doping - e.g. it might also be interesting to discuss how Amphetamines/Steroids/Cortisone etc. may have affected race tactics before the EPO era. I don't imagine that HGH changes race-tactics much?

Also, is there any difference in race-tactics etc. between the EPO era (pre-2001?) and the Blood Doping era (post-2001?)

I guess it's really just an open-ended question/starting-point to give people the opportunity to bring up anything relevant.

- Argyle_Fan
 
Aug 13, 2010
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Argyle_Fan said:
2012 relative to the EPO era was what I was originally meaning to ask about.

And more generally just how race tactics have co-evolved with progress in doping/anti-doping - e.g. it might also be interesting to discuss how Amphetamines/Steroids/Cortisone etc. may have affected race tactics before the EPO era. I don't imagine that HGH changes race-tactics much?

Also, is there any difference in race-tactics etc. between the EPO era (pre-2001?) and the Blood Doping era (post-2001?)

- Argyle_Fan
Blood doping was going on before the 'EPO era'.
 
Sep 19, 2012
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fatandfast said:
SRM data and huge pools of start money have changed bike racing way more than doping.
...
Doping didn't create all these new revenue streams and ultra knowledgeable cycling fans the internet did, the race tactics have changed dramatically with the number of cycling news outlets, stay on the screen or in the cameras lens for 2 weeks and enjoy possibly years of recognition and revenue afterwards.
That's an interesting angle which I hadn't thought of and can't really comment on with any authority.

I do feel that improving power output by 5-10% with EPO has a bigger difference as to who wins the race than the technical advances above. But in terms of 'racing style'? I don't know. There is always of course the vexed issue of the race radios.

I do think that all the money coming into the sport had a big effect on the doping regimes teams/riders could afford. The women don't get nearly as much money, alas, but it is thought that women's cycling is somewhat cleaner (Genevieve Jeanson et. al. excepted). Anyone know if that's true?

Are there many differences in race style/tactics between men's/women's races - and does this have more to do with doping in the women's peloton being more scaled down, budget differences, physiological differences or (controversially...) psychological/sociological differences?

- Argyle_Fan
 
Mar 10, 2009
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There is a segment of cycling fans that will always say the peloton is all dope and that most are charged so to comment on a change in the race because the riders are going clean is a non starter since it is contrary to their first premiss, That pros dope. To some extent the persistence of these dark outlook types that we have actually made great revelations of sins past and some current.

So except for those people, I think the decline of the last kilometre catch, The end of 6 riders from 1 team still with the leader midway up the ultimate climbs. I think we will see mountain stages that are longer to cover and less dramatic escapes by GC leaders.

The same people that ***** about the doping will be at the forefront of complaining about the boring racing and will blame radios for it.

Some of us will watch every stage and feel the glory of each pedal stroke without the cloud overhead. I think that it will be a lot like the 2012 season.
 

Dr. Maserati

BANNED
Jun 19, 2009
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Tactics and race routines have evolved - but it was not entirely down to PED usage, although it had a role.

While blood doping may have been used pre EPO i believe it would have a somewhat limited value.
Obviously it would give a good hit - but what EPO allowed at the start of the 90s was riders to train at a much harder rate. These guys were then arriving at the traditional training races with thousands of kms in their legs and already at a high level.

Pro racing can often be predictable (some would say boringly so, not me) but that is more to do with Pro teams running a disciplined team with clear roles - and that is more to do with teams having more riders and allowing certain riders focus on certain events.
 
May 3, 2010
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Doping + race radios + the success of certain tactics.

As with any sport - generally if one set of tactics or players makes the game unpredictable and open, then you'll find that people will set their minds to working out the best way to neutralise those tactics.

Isn't there a story about Armstrong in the TDF when Pantani went on a solo attack and blew Armstrong away. Armstrong was panicking and in the team car they got Ferrari on the phone. Ferrari then crunched some numbers, concluded that Pantani couldn't stay away and so they didn't chase and let him fry.

The point is that maybe 30 years ago, if someone had gone on such an attack, the rider in Armstrong's position would have had to have made the decision himself on the road about what to do and he might (without Ferrari's advice) have decided to chase down the attack and ended up blowing up himself.
 
Before we account for doping, its important to think about what affects tactics in the first place.

Depth of quality in the field,
Depth of individual teams, and how teams monopolize talent,
Parcours, including balance of TTing and climbing
Style of riders at the top
(anything else? race radios, and calulations ala Mrs. Murphy)

The deeper the field, meaning the density of quality riders in the top ranks will minimize solo attacks. 2012 giro is a good example, with no standouts to blow it apart. One reason the pre EPO era was characterized by these attacks, is the field was not as deep; the relative fitness from the first to middle to last place finishers was bigger, making it easier to get away. As the sport grows, its talent pool will find more top tier riders, making start lists heavier at the top.

Here's how I see doping affect those factors of racing tactics: Those individuals with access to sophisticated doping stretched the top end of the field. Then teams with sophisticated programs caught up the middle of the pack, so the distribution of quality is the same, minus clean riders way behind. Doping then, is no longer an explicit race tactic.

Now, whether riders are microdosing, or it is a battle of clean and dirty riders doesn't really matter. As teams monopolize talent into super teams, the possibility of any one rider's exclusive ability to shape the race is minimized. As far as exciting racing goes, we should be more concerned with how teams have gotten to the monopoly status they have now
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Don't be late Pedro said:
Blood doping was going on before the 'EPO era'.
but it was not pratical for the road, for other reasons than transport logistics. Hitting peak form always required living and breathing and training on 100% RBCs
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Mrs John Murphy said:
As with any sport - generally if one set of tactics or players makes the game unpredictable and open, then you'll find that people will set their minds to working out the best way to neutralise those tactics.
market equilibrium. ITs kinda zero sum. Soon as Armstrong is promoting his breakthroughs and his strategy, other riders would have adopted it and quell any advantage sustained. Like Brad Wiggins and Sky's marginal gains.

True competitive devices and breakthroughs should be IP and protected. Dont let your competitors access that potential.

ephasis: If it is a true breakthrough. Salient qualifier, true.

So we have to think either Wiggins was silly for the first decade of his pro career, before finding certain latent gains, a native potential to be unlocked through cadence, weightloss, nutrition, and dedication. So he is on 5 million pounds now. When he may have had cumulative assets of 500k pounds before his recent contract, and the sky transfer.

Why did he adopt these techniques for gain(s) now? Was he an idiot previously, or is he still an idiot.

Or are you, I, we, ... idiots. I think the idiots are us. Not Wiggins.
 
Jul 15, 2010
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How have race tactics changed with the decline of doping?

* Are there fewer solo breakaways miles from the end?


On flat stages this has more to do with what the sprinters teams will let happen unless it is a gc contender trying to sneak away. A couple of tours where people have been allowed to get 20min which then came back to haunt the GC contenders means that there is generally more control of breaks now.


* Does it change whether you attack on the final mountain or an earlier one (since EPO aids recovery)?


Riders seem to be more risk adverse and inclined to protect a position rather than risk everything for a death or glory attempt. This is to do with the current point system and fact that a top 10 finish is worth much more now than what it used to be. There is also the Landis and Hamilton effect where even if you can do the big solo it looks a bit sus no?

* Is EPO of much use for sprinters (apart from helping them keep up with the grupetto)? Any differences in usefulness between rouleurs, domestiques, team-leaders, climbers?

It is a benefi in that it allows you to operate aerobically for longer, giving allowing you to be fresher at the sprint and to recover from efforts to find position much better. I have always thought that sprinters coming from way back and bad position was sus. It also helps sprinters get over climbs that might occur in the finale in a good position and hence to be able to contest sprints that they otherwise would have been dropped for.

* Does it change the body type best suited for contesting the climbs? E.g. light Columbian climbers were beaten by Ullrich/Indurain etc. Could Ullrich have won the Tour if everyone were clean (would still have rocked the TTs)?

Eddy M and Berrnie H won 10 tours withour being little climbers. Bernie was little but not in a wimpy way and both could win spints and PR. So pure climbers have more chance of winning if the pace is such that they can attack and use a burst of speed, but bigger riders have always tried to counter this by setting a high constant tempo that is hard to attack off.

* How does it change strategy over the 3 weeks? Why were transfusions generally done on the rest days - more time, more privacy or since they cause an initial decline in performance (see Tyler’s book)?


More fluctuations in performance with no doping by any means, with a greater chance of cumulative fatigue catching up with riders who had been going well. If noone was doped this would not be so noticable as everyone would have a similar response.

* How does it change team tactics - do leaders get more or less support? (I guess this depends on whether the domestiques are doping).

Leaders get less support if their teamates are not juiced USP style. This is why Sky gets the questions. Common sense tells you that at the business end of the equation, the cream should rise to the top so it does not look that credible when one team has six blokes at the front and every other domestique has been dropped. But thats marginal gains for ya. So in theory less support should mean that contenders have to do more work for themselves at the end and it should be exciting, but it seems that it just leads to pretty conservative riding in practive.

* Does doping lead to more attacks with sudden acceleration? (c.f. Contador and Schlecklet in the 2010 Tour).

It did for Lance. The two you mention are more that type of rider by nature say against an Evans, Basso type rider.

* How much does doping affect the general aggressiveness of racing? Who do you think the most aggressive riders are in today's peloton (a rather loaded question, I know...)?

You attack when you can and defend when you must. If you are juiced you are more likely to attack, but also more likely to look like a bit of an idiot - welcome to the stage Riccardo Ricco.

* Is it possible to get a general idea of general levels of doping and/or potentially doped riders from the 'racing style'?

Too many variables, but you can maybe get an idea from the racing style changes of individual riders.

* How do riders/doctors decide when to withdraw blood during the racing schedule? Why was the Dauphine such a popular race to be 'under-prepared' for (c.f. LA)? Is it of fitness/training benefit to race with blood removed (c.f. altitude/hypoxic training)?

You spend a lot of time ****ing about with peoples lives and then after you have nearly killed a few people with your dodgey practices you work out a pretty good idea of what works and when you should do it.

Everyone would have their own "program" I guess based on trial and error.

- Argyle_Fan (moved from JV talks, sort of Thread)
 
Argyle_Fan said:
2012 relative to the EPO era was what I was originally meaning to ask about.

And more generally just how race tactics have co-evolved with progress in doping/anti-doping - e.g. it might also be interesting to discuss how Amphetamines/Steroids/Cortisone etc. may have affected race tactics before the EPO era. I don't imagine that HGH changes race-tactics much?

Also, is there any difference in race-tactics etc. between the EPO era (pre-2001?) and the Blood Doping era (post-2001?)

I guess it's really just an open-ended question/starting-point to give people the opportunity to bring up anything relevant.

- Argyle_Fan
The biggest changes happened years ago, 50%, EPO test, OoC testing. The intensity of doping fell more through the Armstrong era than it has since.

In relation to tactics, tactics are purely a team thing, individual tactics will never change like this. There are still only a few teams capable of running proper mountain trains. You get the fake trains like Liquigas which may be due to not doping (lol) or could just be that they are bad.

Overall I doubt that doping matters in relation to tactics, a cleaner peloton still rides at its limits. I'd look at other factors to explain any aggregate shift in tactics over time.
 
Aug 27, 2012
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I would expect the sports administrator to adapt the rules to ensure the sport stays "pure" and in the fans best interest. Not radically but in a measured way with stakeholder consultation (but not vested interests driving the outcome).

Compare what UCI has done with what the international rugby federation has done. An exciting game where the rules are reviewed and adjusted as the game develops.

Instead we have seatpost angles and other ****.

Ban rider radios immediately. The safety argument being used to keep them is a nonsense. If there is important communication it can come via the team car and a domestique.
 
Argyle_Fan said:
* Does it change the body type best suited for contesting the climbs? E.g. light Columbian climbers were beaten by Ullrich/Indurain etc. Could Ullrich have won the Tour if everyone were clean (would still have rocked the TTs)?
I think it does change the preferred body type a little. Dope allows everyone to go up the climbs faster, which matters in two ways: 1) The faster you climb a hill, the less GC time is at stake. You can't lose 1 minute on a 20 minute climb as easily as 1 minute on a 30 minute climb. Therefore the importance of climbing is slightly lower. 2) The faster you go, the larger the role of aerodynamics. Drafting has a bigger effect (so tagging along behind natural climbers will be a little easier). Plus, larger riders like Indurain have an aerodynamic advantage relative to their power output, so the more that resistance is due to aerodynamics (as opposed to gravity), the more the scales tip towards the larger riders' favor.
 
May 3, 2010
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blackcat said:
market equilibrium. ITs kinda zero sum. Soon as Armstrong is promoting his breakthroughs and his strategy, other riders would have adopted it and quell any advantage sustained. Like Brad Wiggins and Sky's marginal gains.

True competitive devices and breakthroughs should be IP and protected. Dont let your competitors access that potential.

ephasis: If it is a true breakthrough. Salient qualifier, true.

So we have to think either Wiggins was silly for the first decade of his pro career, before finding certain latent gains, a native potential to be unlocked through cadence, weightloss, nutrition, and dedication. So he is on 5 million pounds now. When he may have had cumulative assets of 500k pounds before his recent contract, and the sky transfer.

Why did he adopt these techniques for gain(s) now? Was he an idiot previously, or is he still an idiot.

Or are you, I, we, ... idiots. I think the idiots are us. Not Wiggins.
I think my point was that teams decided that the way to neutralise long range attacks etc was to create teams of uber-domestiques - the Blue Train, the Sky Train, the HGH-Columbia train. And to a certain extent those tactics only worked because of EPO/blood doping.

The introduction of team wide doping rather than just the team leaders? Isn't one of the hallmarks of the EPO era the whole team juiced to the gills?

You might also consider the EPO era to be the 'professionalisation' of doping - with in the case of Fuentes and Ferrari millions being paid for drugs. That I think is a significant change on the pre-EPO era.

Also, you point out exclusive access - didn't Armstrong have an exclusive deal with Ferrari? Didn't Fuentes have a sliding scale of programmes based on your income - the richer you are the better your programme?
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Mrs John Murphy said:
Also, you point out exclusive access - didn't Armstrong have an exclusive deal with Ferrari? Didn't Fuentes have a sliding scale of programmes based on your income - the richer you are the better your programme?
I agreed with the original post of yours I was replying to. I was fleshing it out in my mind.

re: Ferrari, I knew when I was posting, this should have been a caveat. Or, explained.

I think Fuentes did have an a la carte menu too. like you say.

But I always thought, Ferrari, was complete exclusive to threats/tdf GC competitors. In that tho, he really only had two or three. Beloki, Ullrich, Basso, p'raps a Mayo.

And I thought Ferrari's top priced plan was about 30% of your salary. Now how one defines salary, wrt Armstrong, when all his income was basically earnt outside Tailwind.

But the recent revelations, Ferrari still had a corps of pros in his equipe during the Armstrong reign.

O'course, Cecchini was doing Basso AND Ullrich at the same time.
 

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