State of the peloton 2021

We have been talking about several individual riders and climbing times in general, but I would like to bring all the different aspects together in order to find out what the current state of the peloton concerning doping is. Obviously we know nothing. But then we know some things. We know there has been a general decline of climbing times. In the past two or three years stages have sometimes been incredibly fast. We see a new amount of attacking riders, extraordinary performances by single riders. We have seen the rise of the new allrounder who seems able to do it all or at least a lot, not your average sprinter or climber or classics guy. We have seen cross-overs from cross to road like never before.
In my eyes it doesn't look like a slow shift anymore, it looks like a jump. A triple-jump maybe, because I think things have not just been changing after the covid-break, there were precursors in 2019 already.
So maybe you can help me get together what we know. Not with the goal of accusation, but to get a picture a little bit clearer than the one we (I) have.

  • Alaphilippe in 2019?
  • stage 17 Vuelta 2019
  • Quintana in Tour de la Provence 2020?
  • Pogacar's TdF time trial 2020. Before that, his watts on Peyresourde
  • climbing times at the Giro 2020
  • van der Poel's watts Strade 2020
  • climbing and time trial times at T-A 2021. Stage time stage 6
  • van der Poel, van Aert, Pidcock switching more or less seemlessly between cross (1 hour) and road (4-7 hours)
  • van Aert among best sprinters, best time trialers, close to best climbers
  • Hirschi on the rise with talk about whereabouts
  • in general the peloton complaining about extremely hard ridden stages, looks like some decent riders have problems to just ride along
Is there a relation? Or do some aspects not belong here? Which others do and what more can you say about them?

Which other explanations than doping is there which changes things? I'm thinking of
  • shorter stages
  • many sprint mountain finishes/ murito finishes which favour a certain cross type
  • younger contenders for the GC wins, so riders might have better short recovery...
  • cross might have lesser contenders in general, so top stars might not need to be 100% there to dominate??
  • Are there tactical reasons for stages which are ridden differently? Different teams in charge, for instance?
 
I think there are some genuine, real, generational talents the likes of which we've not seen in a long time, maybe not since the early 80's. MVdP, WVA, Pogaçar, Remco...these are just huge talents. Not to say they're clean but I just have a feeling that they would be dominating no matter what. I think that's a huge factor. And there are guys like Hirschi and Pidcock who you mention who would ordinarily be at the top, but are overshadowed so far by the mega talents of this generation.
 
I think there are some genuine, real, generational talents the likes of which we've not seen in a long time, maybe not since the early 80's. MVdP, WVA, Pogaçar, Remco...these are just huge talents. Not to say they're clean but I just have a feeling that they would be dominating no matter what. I think that's a huge factor. And there are guys like Hirschi and Pidcock who you mention who would ordinarily be at the top, but are overshadowed so far by the mega talents of this generation.
Indeed, there have always been such talents and there will always be such generational talents. I don't think these are donkeys for one moment. But things have definitely gotten extraterrestrial
 
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prati di tivo was imho a good example of state of peloton, you have to realize first these are 1% of 1% already talented athletes and has been for a very long time, so finding 30 seconds you can say the usual (better diet, better bike,wind was favourable blabla)

two minutes is legitimately insane, unfortunately there isnt a lot of attention to ascencion times, it would have to be like Alpe d'Huez to cause a wider discussion especially if times rivaled Pantani and Armstrong
 
Heh reminds me of Mollema saying that the power numbers in the Tour de Provence were the same he's normally putting out at the Tour de France.

You heard it right. Tour de Provence level = Tour de France level. It's crazy how everyone flies

I'm just here to enjoy the show
Yes, several riders at the TDF last year (such as Bernal) were saying they were putting out their best ever numbers, but couldn't touch Pogacar, Roglic et al.
 
What happened in 2020/2021 for me is out of question.

For me the real question is if the first glimpses of this were already here in 2019. I'm thinking Pogacar, especially that final Vuelta stage win. Alaphilippe in the Tour. Maybe a few others as well.

It's probably too much speculation to on about which riders and when, etc. But Ineos getting on it during 2020 Tirreno is out of question for me.

In fact, the biggest question for me is the low climbing times of the Vuelta, but that had a lot of big headwind climbs and tired legs.
 
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prati di tivo was imho a good example of state of peloton, you have to realize first these are 1% of 1% already talented athletes and has been for a very long time, so finding 30 seconds you can say the usual (better diet, better bike,wind was favourable blabla)

two minutes is legitimately insane, unfortunately there isnt a lot of attention to ascencion times, it would have to be like Alpe d'Huez to cause a wider discussion especially if times rivaled Pantani and Armstrong
Actually, doping gets the attention at the Tour unfortunately. That's what I have noticed throughout the years. It doesn't have to be Alpe D'Huez. The climbs have been ridden so many times that the times will tell you the story.

My take on something very bad going on is:
  • You cannot go breaking climbing records every race you enter or ride at any time of the year. That's very suspicious. Explanations can be tail wind, weather conditions, trains. But at some point we cannot be repeating the same excuses over and over.
  • I am from Colombia and we suffered a lot in the 90's when we lost our natural advantage. Herrera made a comment about it and climbed off his bike. Having more big riders climbing like goats and beating the specialists in the TT, sprints and cross winds. That's very suspicious also.
  • This one is the one that is going to get me some heat but it has to be said. I am Colombian and I know that I'll get my strong responses but I'll take them. How many Slovenians there are in the WT circuit? what is the history of Slovenian cycling? do you think that's not important? think again. You cannot simply get 2 riders from a country with no tradition and no history at all and all of a sudden and be beating everyone. It would be a huge coincidence. What do you think people in Slovenia are thinking? "Wow there is no competition in cycling" "Cycling is so easy" "I can't believe we are so good at it". What is next Pogacar doing 35 minutes in Alpe D'Huez and people asking for proof of doping?? I think there was a reason for the coaches for taking the power meters off his TT last year and is to toss the smoking gun away. And the excuses like we want him to focus solely on the bike. I saw Bernal elaborating a lot in that climb in Tirreno and I thought his back is bugging him again. But he has been riding very good until then. And the next day he recuperated very well. I think there is more to the story about his numbers. Later I saw that Pogacar had taken 2 minutes off the record. That is bananas.
I have other questions like:
  • Have the UCI reacted or have they given them more freedom since we are being hammered with Covid? What about the other riders?
  • Are the UAE coaches going to tone it down? they have to know that it is a very dangerous path they are taking here. Nobody wants to see another Armstrong story. Nobody was happy about it. Everyone lost.
My 2 cents!
 
Actually, doping gets the attention at the Tour unfortunately. That's what I have noticed throughout the years. It doesn't have to be Alpe D'Huez. The climbs have been ridden so many times that the times will tell you the story.

My take on something very bad going on is:
  • You cannot go breaking climbing records every race you enter or ride at any time of the year. That's very suspicious. Explanations can be tail wind, weather conditions, trains. But at some point we cannot be repeating the same excuses over and over.
  • I am from Colombia and we suffered a lot in the 90's when we lost our natural advantage. Herrera made a comment about it and climbed off his bike. Having more big riders climbing like goats and beating the specialists in the TT, sprints and cross winds. That's very suspicious also.
  • This one is the one that is going to get me some heat but it has to be said. I am Colombian and I know that I'll get my strong responses but I'll take them. How many Slovenians there are in the WT circuit? what is the history of Slovenian cycling? do you think that's not important? think again. You cannot simply get 2 riders from a country with no tradition and no history at all and all of a sudden and be beating everyone. It would be a huge coincidence. What do you think people in Slovenia are thinking? "Wow there is no competition in cycling" "Cycling is so easy" "I can't believe we are so good at it". What is next Pogacar doing 35 minutes in Alpe D'Huez and people asking for proof of doping?? I think there was a reason for the coaches for taking the power meters off his TT last year and is to toss the smoking gun away. And the excuses like we want him to focus solely on the bike. I saw Bernal elaborating a lot in that climb in Tirreno and I thought his back is bugging him again. But he has been riding very good until then. And the next day he recuperated very well. I think there is more to the story about his numbers. Later I saw that Pogacar had taken 2 minutes off the record. That is bananas.
I have other questions like:
  • Have the UCI reacted or have they given them more freedom since we are being hammered with Covid? What about the other riders?
  • Are the UAE coaches going to tone it down? they have to know that it is a very dangerous path they are taking here. Nobody wants to see another Armstrong story. Nobody was happy about it. Everyone lost.
My 2 cents!
I have similar questions about Slovenian cycling. When there are statistical peculiarities, I am looking for explanations. The same goes for this "extra-ordinary generation". That doesn't mean there can't be natural explanations. But I would like to get to know some, too.
For instance, in football, Messi is not just some dude from the Pampa. He's from one of the football cities in the world, at that time probably one of the most scouted places on earth, supported by a society and structures which were appreciating young, Maradona-like players. The current generation of strong French players is not just luck, but boosted by academy structures, appreciation of street football and a ligue which gives space to technically and physically strong players (neglecting tactics a bit...)
Then there are cases such as the Kenyan and Jamaican runners, who are definitely boosted by their genes, but also by national federations who look away more than others.

Slovenia isn't as random as it seems. It's close to Italy, close to Austria, countries with cycling history, it does have nice climbs and partly very good roads. Pogacar once cited the support in sport for youngsters, but I don't know how the Slovenian structures really are. Still, it's a very small country without, I would assume, until Roglic, a mass movement of cyclists, and two of the best six cyclists in the world are from Slovenia. They didn't come from the same academy or something, but took slightly different paths.

If there is a special generation, with statistically more very, very strong riders than would be expected, I would like to find out the reasons for that. Because I have looked into a few athlete's biographies trough different sports, and I don't really believe in coincedences when it comes to this. I would even say that usually the amount of talent in people stays more or less the same. It's the circumstances which can bring up certain guys, allow them to shine. (Like, in football, there might be times with playing systems which favour creative, small players with great technique... and then it looks like it was a coincidence Xavi, Messi and Iniesta were there at the same time.)

--
I totally agree with your first point. There can be explanations why certain races have very fast times. But when it's almost every race, it's probably not because of good conditions.
 
The landscape certainly seems to have changed, no doubt. Not to pick nits, but in honour of Roglic, can we say long jump ski-jumping rather than triple jump? Respect, yo.
That said, the shorter stage argument gets tossed immediately. People who make a living running 100 metres are using PED's.
Regarding young riders, for years and years the argument has been that it takes a seasoned pro to win the TDF. Reason being is you need the miles in your legs before thinking about winning the race. So based upon that notion, we've got to toss the young rider stuff out the window.
As for sudden transformations, I think riders like MVDP overshadows Alaphilippe circa 2019. Don't get me wrong: I have no doubt JA is on some modern day next-level schit, but the sheer dominance shown by MVDP in Strade Bianche made JA look like a very good rider who doesn't dope.
 
The landscape certainly seems to have changed, no doubt. Not to pick nits, but in honour of Roglic, can we say long jump ski-jumping rather than triple jump? Respect, yo.
That said, the shorter stage argument gets tossed immediately. People who make a living running 100 metres are using PED's.
Regarding young riders, for years and years the argument has been that it takes a seasoned pro to win the TDF. Reason being is you need the miles in your legs before thinking about winning the race. So based upon that notion, we've got to toss the young rider stuff out the window.
As for sudden transformations, I think riders like MVDP overshadows Alaphilippe circa 2019. Don't get me wrong: I have no doubt JA is on some modern day next-level schit, but the sheer dominance shown by MVDP in Strade Bianche made JA look like a very good rider who doesn't dope.
It also seems very on/off. Alaphilippe grabbed his Tour stage win, then just got worse, then magically he was crazy strong at the worlds. Not the trajectory you normally see from Vuelta riders prepping for the worlds.

TGH probably did more watts on Stelvio for 70 minutes than he did 1000m lower on Etna for 50 minutes
 
As for Slovenia, it is a too small sample to draw any firm conclusions. Mohorič has developed pretty steadily and was already recognized as a great talent in 2012/2013 when he won back-to-back junior/U23 WCRR. Roglič and Pogačar have emerged simultaneously, but have both been great early on in their professional career, so it's not like there's suddenly been a breakthrough for several otherwise average riders. If it was only 1 instead of 2 superstars, no one would point to the country as suspicious (as is the case for Slovakia).
 
Once the curren pandemic is over/contained (fingers crossed) ooc testing should go bac to it's normal frequency, so it's gonna be interesting to see if the climbing speeds will suddenly drop dwn to pre-pandemic levels.

I have no doubts that some riders are using some rather new peptites that are still not banned by WADA (something like BPC-157 that improves soft tissue healing and your bodies growth hormone production would probably help a lot with recovery), but I can't see everyone and most teams jumping on some stuff with pretty much no human studies. Still, as long as it isn't banned something like that would only be grey area stuff and not actual doping.
 
As for Slovenia, it is a too small sample to draw any firm conclusions. Mohorič has developed pretty steadily and was already recognized as a great talent in 2012/2013 when he won back-to-back junior/U23 WCRR. Roglič and Pogačar have emerged simultaneously, but have both been great early on in their professional career, so it's not like there's suddenly been a breakthrough for several otherwise average riders. If it was only 1 instead of 2 superstars, no one would point to the country as suspicious (as is the case for Slovakia).
"As for Slovenia, it is a too small sample to draw any firm conclusions."
What does that mean in relation to doping?

"If it was only one instead of two superstars, no one would point to the country as suspicious."

Again, what do you mean? I've read it three times and still don't understand the point. Is there a per capita limit based on population that allows some dopers to fly under the radar? And what does the country have to do with it? "Slovenia, you have received a two-year ban for doping. Cease all operations immediately."
 
"As for Slovenia, it is a too small sample to draw any firm conclusions."
What does that mean in relation to doping?

"If it was only one instead of two superstars, no one would point to the country as suspicious."

Again, what do you mean? I've read it three times and still don't understand the point. Is there a per capita limit based on population that allows some dopers to fly under the radar? And what does the country have to do with it? "Slovenia, you have received a two-year ban for doping. Cease all operations immediately."
LMGTFY:


The law of small numbers is the bias of making generalizations from a small sample size. In truth, the smaller your sample size, the more likely you are to have extreme results. If you’re not aware of this principle, when you have small sample sizes, you may be misled by outliers.
 
What does LMGTFY mean?
re Small sample size: I get that part. I am only questioning why the country of Slovenia was used as the jumping off point in terms of empirical analysis.
When do trade teams come into the equation?
How about training camps abroad? Do they have the potential to come into play?
Did these riders ever ride for teams based outside of Slovenia before signing contracts for teams based outside of Slovenia? I have no idea.
What does Slovenia have to do with it?
 
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I get the small sample size and I admit two is a rather small number ;)

I certainly don't believe in Slovenian state doping. I was rather thinking of some "patrons", who might find ways to some guys on a personal level, a personal network rather than anything state sponsored. Or at best a few people in important positions who look away, like it happens in organizations sometimes. Well, whatever.

When we look at trade teams... it's hard to find a team that looks clean. One might wonder about a team like DSM. If they are clean and even if a rider like Hirschi maybe isn't, they looked pretty competetive last year. That would actually speak against a thoroughly doped peloton.

I get the impression it's more than single cases but not the whole peloton, anyway.

One point I am not convinced by, yet, is less testing due to Corona as an explanation. Do the teams know for sure it is this way in advance? Would you go the risk, because there hasn't been much testing in the last weeks to say "well, they don't test now, anyways"? Would you rely on that if in other times you would be way more careful?
Also I'm not sure things add up like that, like, the Vuelta wasn't that strong, was it? On the other hand the Giro was. VdP wasn't. Now he is. Ineos messed up their preparation, but then they were there in the Giro. Now they aren't at their best, again, while others are.
It could play a role, but it doesn't feel like "all these crazy things (only) happen because of less testing" to me. If anything it might lead to pushing some smaller things a bit more, going closer to the edge?
 
To Mayomaniac. It has been discussed here with examples. I am not sure where the sources are but at the Olympic level there has been surveys that even if the put their future health in jeopardy the athletes are willing to take whatever it takes for a Gold medal. Additionally, the riders from the 90's were risking their lives to some extent when they started to jump in the EPO bandwagon. That never stopped them. 65% hematocrit level is crazy. I told a Doctor this and he was shaking his head. The same way the Doctors that receive Pantani in their hospital when they saw the hematocrit levels in their blood. So they don't care to take anything new even if unproved if that gives them the edge.

To Blueroads I believe that during lockdowns the UCI did not work as in previous years, I heavily doubt it. Some teams knew that, of course. Or some riders. That is huge when you don't have the out of competition testing.

I was the one that put the Country theory. It was explained better by Blueroads. Additionally, I just don't believe that you can, all of a sudden, have the 2 best riders of the world. Not only because cycling is not your first sport, and taking into account that the country has small population, but because you will have even less population devoted to developing cyclists. That is statistically extremely high and lucky that you get the 2 best riders with highest VO2 max. If true that would be a huuuuge coincidence. I just don't believe it. And what would be the natural advantage between Slovenia and the other European countries? why not the other countries who have more cyclists devoted to the sport for a long time? And this has nothing to do about picking on a country who has wonderful people. This has to do more about Statistics and progression of a spot in a country.
 
To Mayomaniac. It has been discussed here with examples. I am not sure where the sources are but at the Olympic level there has been surveys that even if the put their future health in jeopardy the athletes are willing to take whatever it takes for a Gold medal. Additionally, the riders from the 90's were risking their lives to some extent when they started to jump in the EPO bandwagon. That never stopped them. 65% hematocrit level is crazy. I told a Doctor this and he was shaking his head. The same way the Doctors that receive Pantani in their hospital when they saw the hematocrit levels in their blood. So they don't care to take anything new even if unproved if that gives them the edge.

To Blueroads I believe that during lockdowns the UCI did not work as in previous years, I heavily doubt it. Some teams knew that, of course. Or some riders. That is huge when you don't have the out of competition testing.

I was the one that put the Country theory. It was explained better by Blueroads. Additionally, I just don't believe that you can, all of a sudden, have the 2 best riders of the world. Not only because cycling is not your first sport, and taking into account that the country has small population, but because you will have even less population devoted to developing cyclists. That is statistically extremely high and lucky that you get the 2 best riders with highest VO2 max. If true that would be a huuuuge coincidence. I just don't believe it. And what would be the natural advantage between Slovenia and the other European countries? why not the other countries who have more cyclists devoted to the sport for a long time? And this has nothing to do about picking on a country who has wonderful people. This has to do more about Statistics and progression of a spot in a country.
Yeah, I was thinking more about the teams and team doctors trying to regulate things and talk athletes out of trying the newest experimental stuff.
 
Considering the Poggio climb in Milan-San Remo was obliterated by a very large group today (including Caleb Ewan!), I say hold onto your butts.

This year is going to be legendary in terms of performances. I almost get the impression some guys out there are "surprised" to see so many in their wheel after nuclear accelerations which would drop everyone in previous years (Alaphilippe couldn't drop anyone). Even Max Schachmann looked strong today, i.e. winner of recent Paris-Nice.

And nice to see the legendary Peter Sagan in the midst of the action at the end as well. Fun times.
 
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Considering the Poggio climb in Milan-San Remo was obliterated by a very large group today (including Caleb Ewan!), I say hold onto your butts.

This year is going to be legendary in terms of performances. I almost get the impression some guys out there are "surprised" to see so many in their wheel after nuclear accelerations which would drop everyone in previous years (Alaphilippe couldn't drop anyone). Even Max Schachmann looked strong today, i.e. winner of recent Paris-Nice.

And nice to see the legendary Peter Sagan in the midst of the action at the end as well. Fun times.
What are we holding on for? ;)

In this case there was a known tailwind, which really does help the whole peloton, there was a Ganna at the front ;) , and they still did not get close the record. It was faster than the past few years, but with MSR, wind direction and aggressiveness near the end are very important and can be neutralizing.

EDIT: ha! I was looking at the Cipressa times ... silly me! So looking at the Poggio, they are closer to the record. But the tailwind is a pretty big factor, as was the overall aggressiveness (not sure what Ineos were trying). Not sure how much the conditions nullified nuclear strikes, or if the speed was indicative of mass nuclear prolification :p
 
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What are we holding on for? ;)

In this case there was a known tailwind, which really does help the whole peloton, there was a Ganna at the front ;) , and they still did not get close the record. It was faster than the past few years, but with MSR, wind direction and aggressiveness near the end are very important and can be neutralizing.

EDIT: ha! I was looking at the Cipressa times ... silly me! So looking at the Poggio, they are closer to the record. But the tailwind is a pretty big factor, as was the overall aggressiveness (not sure what Ineos were trying). Not sure how much the conditions nullified nuclear strikes, or if the speed was indicative of mass nuclear prolification :p
6 seconds is pretty close to me
 

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