State of the peloton 2021

Page 20 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
People look at GC's average speeds because the data lines up with (and thus seems to reinforce) our expectations, but it's still mostly just noise and they shouldn't be used. Climbing times are not a perfect tool but they're subject to waaaay less variables than average speeds over three weeks and on wildly different parcourses.
I agree that high speeds don't mean doping, but it's still a factor to take into account, because one reason for fast climbing times could be lower speeds before the climb.
 
here's my devil's advocate theory of the unusually uncontrolled racing this year.

the first actual sprint stage was stage 3. immediately, one of the only pure sprinter teams lost their only sprinter, and Bahrain lost their GC rider. that left two teams stacked with strong roleurs and break riders to go hunting for stages.

you could tell something weird was going to be up on the stage to Chateuroux. that was a perfect stage for a languid chase behind a weak break - instead you had a bunch of guys from Lotto trying to force a strong split on a nearly flat day.

also the race favorite team was UAE and they had an unusually hard time controlling the field, especially in stage 7 and stage 8. they did get better, but by then even more sprinters were gone leaving the flat stages much more susceptible to unusually strong breakaways sensing that there weren't enough sprinters left in the field for a committed chase.
 
It feels like 5-10 years ago we regularly had stage wins contested by groups of riders that got slower as the finish line approached (a sign of understandable fatigue). Obviously there were highly suspect performances during that period but I can distinctly remember actually laughing at some stage finishes as the poor suffering breakaway riders almost crawled to the line in a small bunch 'sprint' for the line.

Now we seem to be regularly getting one guy on GC or the breakaway managing to serenely dispatch their rivals (defying the laws of drafting and the psychological power of wheelsucking) and make it to the line alone without losing any speed (no obvious sign of fatigue).

All completely unscientific but I feel better when there are a group of riders near the finish who have been unable to shake each other off due to the power of drafting. My ill informed perception is that the proportion of riders getting a 'boost' has gone through the roof in the past two years, from maybe 1-5% of the field to 10%+.
I will commit the sin of quoting myself, but for the first time in a long time I liked what I saw yesterday at the Vuelta. A big breakaway in an unpredictable, evenly matched dogfight and the last four riders standing being slow and looking spent. Admittedly the final 3.5kms were genuinely brutal terrain, but all four riders, including the winner, were clearly spent. The winner was at a virtual crawl at the flamme rouge and would easily have been overhauled and lost the stage if the guy in second had any energy. So the slow riding cannot be viewed as sandbagging in my eyes as it genuinely jeopardised victory.

It is the first stage in a GT all year that has looked like that to me and fits in with my perception of what was commonplace 5-10 years ago. Bahrain are clearly performing at a reduced level, which is a huge factor in things looking less rancid. But on yesterday's evidence possibly there is a more cautious stance amongst other elements in the peloton at the Vuelta this year?

One swallow does not a spring make and maybe it'll be back to one dude cruising to victory again today, but I'll be disappointed and surprised if that happens over the course of the next fortnight.
 
I will commit the sin of quoting myself, but for the first time in a long time I liked what I saw yesterday at the Vuelta. A big breakaway in an unpredictable, evenly matched dogfight and the last four riders standing being slow and looking spent. Admittedly the final 3.5kms were genuinely brutal terrain, but all four riders, including the winner, were clearly spent. The winner was at a virtual crawl at the flamme rouge and would easily have been overhauled and lost the stage if the guy in second had any energy. So the slow riding cannot be viewed as sandbagging in my eyes as it genuinely jeopardised victory.

It is the first stage in a GT all year that has looked like that to me and fits in with my perception of what was commonplace 5-10 years ago. Bahrain are clearly performing at a reduced level, which is a huge factor in things looking less rancid. But on yesterday's evidence possibly there is a more cautious stance amongst other elements in the peloton at the Vuelta this year?

One swallow does not a spring make and maybe it'll be back to one dude cruising to victory again today, but I'll be disappointed and surprised if that happens over the course of the next fortnight.
Storer was only 20s slower than the GC favorites on the final climb despite being in the break all day and not even their level.

They looked slow because it was a crazy steep climb.
 
Just a question I can't get out of my head: doing like MVDP just racing tdf one week must affect average speed that week at least? Has riders always done like that just coming for a week, grab yellow and go to another race?
 
Just a question I can't get out of my head: doing like MVDP just racing tdf one week must affect average speed that week at least? Has riders always done like that just coming for a week, grab yellow and go to another race?
Cipo did that every year (until ASO no longer invited his team to the Tour), but I don't know how much of an impact he and his sprint train had on the average speed.
 
Reactions: noob and SHAD0W93
Cipo did that every year (until ASO no longer invited his team to the Tour), but I don't know how much of an impact he and his sprint train had on the average speed.
Don't think the effect is that clear but quite fittingly:

Individual stages can be even faster. The fastest road stage was the 194.5km stage from Laval to Blois in 1999, which was won by Mario Cipollini at a blistering 50.4kph.
 
Reactions: noob
Storer was only 20s slower than the GC favorites on the final climb despite being in the break all day and not even their level.

They looked slow because it was a crazy steep climb.
True, but the GC favourites finished in a bunch of seven riders that didn't appear to go particularly full gas up all the way up the climb. The Eurosport commentators specifiically made mention of how slow Storer was at the flamme rouge. So I think they also considered he looked like he was going slow at that point, because he was going slow at that point.

Regardless of people's perception my main point is that the top four on the stage repeatedly changed position on the final climb, indicating they were at the limit and misjudging their energy levels. This is in contrast with what I've seen most of this year, where 9 times out of 10 the winner on a breakaway stage makes a move and holds their form impeccably to the line, showing little fallibility or overestimation of their energy. Some stages will always be won that way, but when it becomes that way stage after stage (often with different riders in a Bahrain top) it becomes unusual.
 
How do you compare Bahrain and Jumbo? The developments at Bahrain are more eye-catching since they are more sudden and last season nobody thought Bahrain was actually a strong team. It was a team with decent riders, while Jumbo were making waves and have the aspiration to win the Tour. But then Vingegaard was actually quite sudden as well, van Aert is flying in heights long not heard of, and Roglic is only beatable by Pogacar.

The teams look different, but do you think some riders could still be on the same stuff? Is it something different? A different approach? Do you think Jumbo are more unsuspicious?

(And were do DQS fit in there, have they lost their advantage?)
 
Reactions: noob
How do you compare Bahrain and Jumbo? The developments at Bahrain are more eye-catching since they are more sudden and last season nobody thought Bahrain was actually a strong team. It was a team with decent riders, while Jumbo were making waves and have the aspiration to win the Tour. But then Vingegaard was actually quite sudden as well, van Aert is flying in heights long not heard of, and Roglic is only beatable by Pogacar.

The teams look different, but do you think some riders could still be on the same stuff? Is it something different? A different approach? Do you think Jumbo are more unsuspicious?

(And were do DQS fit in there, have they lost their advantage?)
Jumbo were super suspicious for a long time before Bahrain. Now they are equal.

People have short attention spans and focus on what is new. Bahrain emergence overshadows jumbo who've been like this a few years.
 
Reactions: noob
How do you compare Bahrain and Jumbo? The developments at Bahrain are more eye-catching since they are more sudden and last season nobody thought Bahrain was actually a strong team. It was a team with decent riders, while Jumbo were making waves and have the aspiration to win the Tour. But then Vingegaard was actually quite sudden as well, van Aert is flying in heights long not heard of, and Roglic is only beatable by Pogacar.

The teams look different, but do you think some riders could still be on the same stuff? Is it something different? A different approach? Do you think Jumbo are more unsuspicious?

(And were do DQS fit in there, have they lost their advantage?)
I'd say Bahrain is a bit more suspicious. With Jumbo it are mainly the same couple of names who have nuclear performances (Roglic, van Aert, Vingegaard, Kuss,...) which makes me think that it's more a case of talent and individual doping. With Bahrain it seems that suddenly everyone upped their level. Really smells like doping on a team level.
 
Reactions: Koronin and Eeslliw
I'd say Bahrain is a bit more suspicious. With Jumbo it are mainly the same couple of names who have nuclear performances (Roglic, van Aert, Vingegaard, Kuss,...) which makes me think that it's more a case of talent and individual doping. With Bahrain it seems that suddenly everyone upped their level. Really smells like doping on a team level.
I think since 2016-17 Jumbo has consistently been one of the most suspicious teams out there.
And there has been a number of other riders with noticeable jump in performance over the years (Bennett, Teunissen, De Plus, Jansen...) at a lower level.

Bahrain differs because the riders all improved in a very short period of time. Some were riders whom we had been waiting for years, some were established riders with a solid career before this sudden jump, hardly any of them was expected at this level. I'd say Bahrain is now in the elite tier of doping teams, where Jumbo/Ineos/DQS already belonged, but of course that's just speculation.
 
I think since 2016-17 Jumbo has consistently been one of the most suspicious teams out there.
And there has been a number of other riders with noticeable jump in performance over the years (Bennett, Teunissen, De Plus, Jansen...) at a lower level.

Bahrain differs because the riders all improved in a very short period of time. Some were riders whom we had been waiting for years, some were established riders with a solid career before this sudden jump, hardly any of them was expected at this level. I'd say Bahrain is now in the elite tier of doping teams, where Jumbo/Ineos/DQS already belonged, but of course that's just speculation.
im speculating that who gets to do above normal doping changes

in late 90s and early 2000s there was this push to expand cycling into USA in a major way so they got their horse

then with london olympics, britain got their horses juiced

now, after success of gulf oil states in football, it was inevitable that jump will come in other sports too so UAE and Bahrain got their horses juiced

im predicting that sometimes in the future germany will have to get back on cycling hype train, so they will get their horse (perhaps thats what BORA is transitioning into)

two other logical markets would be russia and china, unfortunately nobody likes them so its hard to sell

follow the money always
 
im speculating that who gets to do above normal doping changes

in late 90s and early 2000s there was this push to expand cycling into USA in a major way so they got their horse

then with london olympics, britain got their horses juiced

now, after success of gulf oil states in football, it was inevitable that jump will come in other sports too so UAE and Bahrain got their horses juiced

im predicting that sometimes in the future germany will have to get back on cycling hype train, so they will get their horse (perhaps thats what BORA is transitioning into)

two other logical markets would be russia and china, unfortunately nobody likes them so its hard to sell

follow the money always
What horse is Slovenia on?
 
Reactions: noob
How is out of competition tests going now? Is it different in different countries depending on pandemic restrictions for example? Was it different last year, or were all OOC tests on hold?
 
Okay, my personal ranking of most suspicious performances in 2021:

1 Padun, Dauphiné
2 Cavendish, Tour
3 van Aert, especially Tour
4 more Bahrain riders, collectively: Colbrelli, Mohoric, Mäder, Caruso
5 Vingegaard, Tour especially
((joint 6th place: Pogacar, during one Tour stage and first ITT; van der Poel, Tour TT; Asgreen, E3 and Flanders))

I'm not counting Portugal and stuff, since I don't take that seriously.
Also not ranking Roglic whose level is suspicious, but it's not sudden (anymore), he can't do it all and the pure numbers are not out of this world the way they are for some other performances.
 
Reactions: noob
Here's my own shout-out: Lorenzo Fortunato on the Zoncolan in the Giro.

It's the sort of performance out of nowhere (& never replicated) which just screams 1990's & 2000's. And no one said anything... even when his boss is Ivan Basso.

I think it's easy to point the finger at the stars of the sport but for me when I see these small teams & some random nuclear performances conveniently timed for one big stage in their own home GT... yeah, no comment.
 
2 Cavendish, Tour
The only thing questionable about the Tour for Cav, besides Quickstep, was finishing the full 3 weeks in my opinion but he had 3-6 riders helping him. His top speed decreased during the Tour as he was going 3-6 km/hr slower in his sprints the second and third week. He beat the riders he beat before. Unless you want to say his 2021 season as a whole but he raced 7 races and 12 days before his first win and was improving each race.
 
Okay, my personal ranking of most suspicious performances in 2021:

1 Padun, Dauphiné
2 Cavendish, Tour
3 van Aert, especially Tour
4 more Bahrain riders, collectively: Colbrelli, Mohoric, Mäder, Caruso
5 Vingegaard, Tour especially
((joint 6th place: Pogacar, during one Tour stage and first ITT; van der Poel, Tour TT; Asgreen, E3 and Flanders))
...i agree with above...+ i throw in dan martins amazing solo win at giro...
despite being virtually anonymous all year....even at recent TOB he never came close
to a win......and yes! he's retiring.........how many winners of GT stages retire same year?

Mark L
 
Here's my own shout-out: Lorenzo Fortunato on the Zoncolan in the Giro.

It's the sort of performance out of nowhere (& never replicated) which just screams 1990's & 2000's. And no one said anything... even when his boss is Ivan Basso.

I think it's easy to point the finger at the stars of the sport but for me when I see these small teams & some random nuclear performances conveniently timed for one big stage in their own home GT... yeah, no comment.
Fortunato's climbing time wasn't anything crazy and he dropped like 4 minutes on a steep climb.
 
The only thing questionable about the Tour for Cav, besides Quickstep, was finishing the full 3 weeks in my opinion but he had 3-6 riders helping him. His top speed decreased during the Tour as he was going 3-6 km/hr slower in his sprints the second and third week. He beat the riders he beat before. Unless you want to say his 2021 season as a whole but he raced 7 races and 12 days before his first win and was improving each race.
Yeah, I highlighted the Tour as especially crazy in my eyes because of the three weeks, because I don't consider his sprinting level in 2021 crazy but his regained endurance.
 
Reactions: SHAD0W93 and noob

ASK THE COMMUNITY