Mathieu Van der Poel

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His watt output probably is ridiculous whatever duration of interval you look at. I'd probably say his best interval is like 1 minute. But I think his main advantage is how quick he recovers from hard efforts.
Okay that makes sense. I recall he did enormous work to pull back the break before then launching that incredible sprint off the front to win Amstel Gold.
 
Okay that makes sense. I recall he did enormous work to pull back the break before then launching that incredible sprint off the front to win Amstel Gold.
Hi - watching MVDP race across disciplines and reading his own words, main weapon seems to be his immediate acceleration ... the first few seconds. He often creates or closes ridiculous gaps within that span. But then there is the fact that he seems to be able to repeat these bursts, frequently (like no one else), can sustain crazy high workloads (e.g. in a break), and he seems to be able to TT or do long pulls (e.g. 1 min) repeatedly at an insane level.

So, while ATP/muscle contraction efforts seem to be his most deadly weapon, he also seems to be an anaerobic freak, aerobic (VO2) freak, and pretty freakish with his FTP levels. His power to weight for everything under FTP is obviously quite impressive now (checking out that climb), so the only things I think are not currently strengths are mountains ;)

As for the question from earlier, explaining how someone gets away with something - I am not sure that is really answerable. It seems many folks have historically gotten away with cheating in many sports, and have often only been caught via other means (someone outing them eventually, sometimes outing themselves, long after-the-fact tests, etc).
 
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Hi - watching MVDP race across disciplines and reading his own words, main weapon seems to be his immediate acceleration ... the first few seconds. He often creates or closes ridiculous gaps within that span. But then there is the fact that he seems to be able to repeat these bursts, frequently (like no one else), can sustain crazy high workloads (e.g. in a break), and he seems to be able to TT or do long pulls (e.g. 1 min) repeatedly at an insane level.

So, while ATP/muscle contraction efforts seem to be his most deadly weapon, he also seems to be an anaerobic freak, aerobic (VO2) freak, and pretty freakish with his FTP levels. His power to weight for everything under FTP is obviously quite impressive now (checking out that climb), so the only things I think are not currently strengths are mountains ;)

As for the question from earlier, explaining how someone gets away with something - I am not sure that is really answerable. It seems many folks have historically gotten away with cheating in many sports, and have often only been caught via other means (someone outing them eventually, sometimes outing themselves, long after-the-fact tests, etc).
This has historically been the way van Aert has been able to beat him. Driving the pace up... continuously and unrelentingly without giving van der Poel the ability to recuperate. If he (Wout) did that, if he let the pace slip somewhat, he could basically start over, because it 's enough for Mathieu to recharge his batteries. This is why van Aert beats him at courses like Valkenburg or Dendermonde, where he literally ripped van der Poel to pieces. Those were courses that were so hard, and technically within van Aert's skillset to power through without losing time on technical sections. The issue is, that cyclocross by nature, is hard to keep the pace high constantly, because there are a lot of twists and turns, obstacles etc, so on most courses it's practically impossible to keep the pace high non-stop. And that is exactly what van der Poel excels at, short burst after short burst.

In layman's terms, van der Poel has a set of above average sized batteries that recharge very quickly. Either you need batteries that recharge even faster (basically impossible), or you need bigger batteries to outlast him. That's why he doesn't cope well with longer climbs. I also believe, had Strade been as hard as last year (11 people within 10 minutes in 2020 vs 56 people within 10 minutes in 2021) that Mathieu would not have won this race.

To compare that to another outlier, a fine example would be the raids in Binckbank Tour (van der Poel) and Poland (Evenepoel). Both doing a solo against a stacked field of chasers. Both attack from a small group around the 50k mark and in both cases there already had been some action before that. The difference is, at that moment, van der Poel already has a 1m10s gap on the peloton that will blow up shortly after (40-25k, at some time his lead has extended to 1m35s), meaning his chasers (SKA, Naesen, Colbrelli, Küng...) were already at a large deficit before the chase started. They should however, have been more fresh. So how does it pan out? From the 1m10s gap he has going into his raid, he only keeps 4s at the finishline. Compare that to Evenepoel, who attacks at 51k from the group of favorites, and has no margin on his chasers going into his raid. He extends his lead to 55s and keeps this gap fairly stable for most of the effort on a much harder parcours (longer climbs). However, as the race goes on, in the final 15k, Evenepoel pulls away an extra minute. So, van der Poel starts with a large bonus (max gap 1m35s) and wins by 4s. Evenepoel starts without a headstart, and wins by 1m50.

I'm not posting this as a plea to prove that he is most definitely not doping. Or to show that he isn't that exceptional. Just to explain where his strengths and relative weaknesses lie and how those differ from other riders.
 
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This has historically been the way van Aert has been able to beat him. Driving the pace up... continuously and unrelentingly without giving van der Poel the ability to recuperate. If he (Wout) did that, if he let the pace slip somewhat, he could basically start over, because it 's enough for Mathieu to recharge his batteries. This is why van Aert beats him at courses like Valkenburg or Dendermonde, where he literally ripped van der Poel to pieces. Those were courses that were so hard, and technically within van Aert's skillset to power through without losing time on technical sections. The issue is, that cyclocross by nature, is hard to keep the pace high constantly, because there are a lot of twists and turns, obstacles etc, so on most courses it's practically impossible to keep the pace high non-stop. And that is exactly what van der Poel excels at, short burst after short burst.

In layman's terms, van der Poel has a set of above average sized batteries that recharge very quickly. Either you need batteries that recharge even faster (basically impossible), or you need bigger batteries to outlast him. That's why he doesn't cope well with longer climbs. I also believe, had Strade been as hard as last year (11 people within 10 minutes in 2020 vs 56 people within 10 minutes in 2021) that Mathieu would not have won this race.

To compare that to another outlier, a fine example would be the raids in Binckbank Tour (van der Poel) and Poland (Evenepoel). Both doing a solo against a stacked field of chasers. Both attack from a small group around the 50k mark and in both cases there already had been some action before that. The difference is, at that moment, van der Poel already has a 1m10s gap on the peloton that will blow up shortly after (40-25k, at some time his lead has extended to 1m35s), meaning his chasers (SKA, Naesen, Colbrelli, Küng...) were already at a large deficit before the chase started. They should however, have been more fresh. So how does it pan out? From the 1m10s gap he has going into his raid, he only keeps 4s at the finishline. Compare that to Evenepoel, who attacks at 51k from the group of favorites, and has no margin on his chasers going into his raid. He extends his lead to 55s and keeps this gap fairly stable for most of the effort on a much harder parcours (longer climbs). However, as the race goes on, in the final 15k, Evenepoel pulls away an extra minute. So, van der Poel starts with a large bonus (max gap 1m35s) and wins by 4s. Evenepoel starts without a headstart, and wins by 1m50.

I'm not posting this as a plea to prove that he is most definitely not doping. Or to show that he isn't that exceptional. Just to explain where his strengths and relative weaknesses lie and how those differ from other riders.
Spot on.

There are sprinters (Degenkolb et al), puncheurs (MVDP), GC riders (Bernal etc) and TTers (Cancellara, Van Aert etc).

All of these categories of riders have their own characteristics and advantages. MVDP is likely to ever be a GC contender. He is too heavily built, has a too strong anaerobic motor (thus limiting his aerobic performance, Vlamax) and a focus that sets up him perfectly for one day classics but not at all for GC.

Just like Logic said, MVDP gets beaten when the pace is high and unrelenting. Riders with a stronger aerobic motor will excel at a high even pace, like Van Aert or even Toon Aerts. This apparent if you follow CX. Yet, road races may not play out in an unfavorable way for MVDP even when the competition knows that that's the way to beat him. So many factors contribute and his FTP/aerobic "weakness" is just a tad below the best in the world so it really takes a lot to beat him. Should everyone have raced against MVDP he maybe would have lost but why should different teams and riders want to do that? The difference between Alaphilippe and Bernal was tiny and Pidcock and WVA was also close.

Had MVDP smashed the same competition at Liege-Bastogne-Liege I would really have wondered what was happening or if he was crushing Ganna on individual TTs but this... no.

Ps. A little surprisingly Gianni Veermersch and another Alpecin rider managed to stay in the lead group almost all the way. Veermersch is a solid CX rider but not at all of the same calibre as WVA and MVDP. It just might indicate that the race wasn’t as hard as it may have been other years?
 
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This has historically been the way van Aert has been able to beat him. Driving the pace up... continuously and unrelentingly without giving van der Poel the ability to recuperate. If he (Wout) did that, if he let the pace slip somewhat, he could basically start over, because it 's enough for Mathieu to recharge his batteries. This is why van Aert beats him at courses like Valkenburg or Dendermonde, where he literally ripped van der Poel to pieces. Those were courses that were so hard, and technically within van Aert's skillset to power through without losing time on technical sections. The issue is, that cyclocross by nature, is hard to keep the pace high constantly, because there are a lot of twists and turns, obstacles etc, so on most courses it's practically impossible to keep the pace high non-stop. And that is exactly what van der Poel excels at, short burst after short burst.

In layman's terms, van der Poel has a set of above average sized batteries that recharge very quickly. Either you need batteries that recharge even faster (basically impossible), or you need bigger batteries to outlast him. That's why he doesn't cope well with longer climbs. I also believe, had Strade been as hard as last year (11 people within 10 minutes in 2020 vs 56 people within 10 minutes in 2021) that Mathieu would not have won this race.

To compare that to another outlier, a fine example would be the raids in Binckbank Tour (van der Poel) and Poland (Evenepoel). Both doing a solo against a stacked field of chasers. Both attack from a small group around the 50k mark and in both cases there already had been some action before that. The difference is, at that moment, van der Poel already has a 1m10s gap on the peloton that will blow up shortly after (40-25k, at some time his lead has extended to 1m35s), meaning his chasers (SKA, Naesen, Colbrelli, Küng...) were already at a large deficit before the chase started. They should however, have been more fresh. So how does it pan out? From the 1m10s gap he has going into his raid, he only keeps 4s at the finishline. Compare that to Evenepoel, who attacks at 51k from the group of favorites, and has no margin on his chasers going into his raid. He extends his lead to 55s and keeps this gap fairly stable for most of the effort on a much harder parcours (longer climbs). However, as the race goes on, in the final 15k, Evenepoel pulls away an extra minute. So, van der Poel starts with a large bonus (max gap 1m35s) and wins by 4s. Evenepoel starts without a headstart, and wins by 1m50.

I'm not posting this as a plea to prove that he is most definitely not doping. Or to show that he isn't that exceptional. Just to explain where his strengths and relative weaknesses lie and how those differ from other riders.
Almost correct, I only don't agree that Strade bianchi was ridden less hard. The power numbers disagree with you.

Time gaps do not always tell whether a race has been ridden hard or not. So Apart from that bit, which i don't agree with, you're correct in saying that in longer high sustained efforts MvdP falters. (and still only against a very select group of circumstances and only a very select few riders, he's still a beast even in those efforts)
 
Almost correct, I only don't agree that Strade bianchi was ridden less hard. The power numbers disagree with you.

Time gaps do not always tell whether a race has been ridden hard or not. So Apart from that bit, which i don't agree with, you're correct in saying that in longer high sustained efforts MvdP falters. (and still only against a very select group of circumstances and only a very select few riders, he's still a beast even in those efforts)
Power numbers alone aren't the whole story to determing how hard a race was, though. Obviously the power numbers are going to be lower when the riders have to bike 5h at 40 degrees.
 
Almost correct, I only don't agree that Strade bianchi was ridden less hard. The power numbers disagree with you.

Time gaps do not always tell whether a race has been ridden hard or not. So Apart from that bit, which i don't agree with, you're correct in saying that in longer high sustained efforts MvdP falters. (and still only against a very select group of circumstances and only a very select few riders, he's still a beast even in those efforts)
It was scorching hot in 2020 and the roads were in much worse shape, as witnessed by multiple riders. Yes, the race was much much harder last year. Time gaps don't tell the complete story, but when they are this extreme, you know something is up.
 
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An interesting observation to make and something to add to the WTF-ness of MVDP. Barkinntheeye mentioned Vlamax. What I find fascinating is that even though we see some insane ATP/Anaerobic explosiveness from MVDP, his aerobic capacities seem to have also improved (just not at the same full nuclear pace). There have been races that have been quite intense for an extended period and MVDP is still able to put in a warp speed attack, put in something like a 5 second gap in about 5 seconds of riding when the racing is still 'on' (think about this - double the speed of the competition), and then still be able to settle back in to a very fast pace.
 
I think it's been mentioned a few times now, but yeah to me the big difference is:
  • his ability to generate a crazy high number of watts over a lengthy attack or acceleration (1)
  • his ability to recuperate like no other (aka recharge the batteries as Logic mentioned) (2)
People have rightfully been in awe of his raids but when you look closely at the different races, this is what usually happened:
  • he opens up or closes huge gaps thanks to his (1) ability to accelerate like crazy for an extended period of time
  • he joins or is joined by one or more riders, thus allowing him to make use of ability (2)
This is what happened during Kuurne (Narvaez and group in front), this is also what happened at Amstel (going from group to group). BinckBank is the exception (going from group to group before going solo), but as Logic mentioned, his lead seriously cut short towards the end (vs a smaller group).

Looking at Strade: He didn't get mixed up with any crazy pulls or attacks until his final 2 huge attacks. Rode smart and followed wheels most of the time while JA and Van Aert were a little too eager. At one point I even disregarded him a little because it's not what we're accustomed to. His battery was charged at 200%. He only had to recharge it once. JA helped where he could, even Bernal helped to pull.
Same thing. Crazy explosion after being able to recuperate during the race.

It's science!
 
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to re-iterate @Logic-is-your-friend

2020 was not ridden "much harder than this year".

Van Aerts 2020 times are in there (as others) and it wasn't ridden harder or faster last year. So that's a debunk.
Thanks for proving my point. The harder a race, the lower the peak output will be. Or you thought that when a race is super hard, riders would on top of that start breaking records left and right? Do you perform better when you are tired?
 
well then i conclude you can't read. The race wasn't raced slower than 2020. So you prove nothing.

I agree with everything you said, except what you said about Strade Bianchi, which is simply ***, backed up by facts and numbers.
 
well then i conclude you can't read. The race wasn't raced slower than 2020. So you prove nothing.

I agree with everything you said, except what you said about Strade Bianchi, which is simply ***, backed up by facts and numbers.
And i conclude that you can't think. Wind, temperature, terrain... they do not show in your numbers. But you think suddenly half the peloton was faster than van Aert last year so the race was HARDER this year? lol.

Sprinters also sprint faster after a hard race you think?
 
well i think you live in your own world if you honestly believe other editions were raced harder and this was some soft edition enabling him to win
You still don't seem to understand or get the point. I'm not saying this year was soft pedaled, i'm saying last year was a lot harder. Biggest factor being 40°C, followed by roads in bad conditions. This year holes and cracks had been filled and multiple riders even said it looked like the roads had been "swept" clean and were much more comfortable to ride. Please don't project some BS onto me based on nothing but numbers and your idolizing of a rider. As if i'm insulting him by stating the obvious. When the difference is so extreme, when the gaps are so much smaller this year, and all the power outputs and KOMS are so much higher by the entire (!) peloton, then you know the race last year was a lot harder.
 
Saturday's Strade Bianche wasn't the fastest ever edition but definitely one of the quicker ones. Yet as Logic said it might still not mean it was tougher than some of the slower races. Clearly many factors contribute but I'll crunch some more numbers to see if any pattern emerges.
 
This was on top of having a NP of 440W for the last 60kms, and 389W for the whole race.

This is not normal.
I know its not normal. But the question is - is it possible? I leave that possibility open. He is known for short duration efforts like this. In 2019 Amstel he also did did huge work dragging back to Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe before unleashing that sprint off the front. He seems to have amazing anaerobic reserves.
 
I know its not normal. But the question is - is it possible? I leave that possibility open. He is known for short duration efforts like this. In 2019 Amstel he also did did huge work dragging back to Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe before unleashing that sprint off the front. He seems to have amazing anaerobic reserves.
Again. A normalised power of 5.1w/kg over a 186km race.

And he still finished it with a 1300W sprint.
 
I know its not normal. But the question is - is it possible? I leave that possibility open. He is known for short duration efforts like this. In 2019 Amstel he also did did huge work dragging back to Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe before unleashing that sprint off the front. He seems to have amazing anaerobic reserves.
"I leave that possibility open."
Sure, anything is possible and kudos for thinking that this guy might be clean. It's fun to pretend.
I'm genuinely surprised that after everything doping-related in the sport has come to light -- e.g. who, what, why, where, when -- people want to revert back to the notion that riders like MVDP are clean as a whistle. That notion defies credulity.
Seriously, what makes anyone think a rider who made superhuman efforts not too long ago aren't doing it now? What changed? I find it really interesting that people refer to watts and everything else I have no clue about. I could be completely wrong, but throwing out numbers as a way to say someone is clean doesn't really add up. As a self-identified ignoramus, I wonder how the cleans argument based on wattage, etc. would be told back in the days starting from the inaugural TDF to the time Lance Armstrong was exorcised from the sport.
 
he's been racing since 5 year old. With cyclocross as basis. Which is basically doing high pace + insane accelerations after every corner.
Since age 5... with Adri vd Poel as father and the daughter of Poulidor as mother.

Is it really that unfeasible to think that somebody with that background and starting cycling at age 5 can evolve this way?
 
he's been racing since 5 year old. With cyclocross as basis. Which is basically doing high pace + insane accelerations after every corner.
Since age 5... with Adri vd Poel as father and the daughter of Poulidor as mother.

Is it really that unfeasible to think that somebody with that background and starting cycling at age 5 can evolve this way?
Like his brother David! ;)
 

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