State of the peloton 2021

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The caveat is that I would like to see clean(er) cycling, but don't care if the NFL cleans up. Maybe that's because I have a closer personal relationship with cycling?
The main reason I want to see clean(er) or at least clean-ish cycling is fairness. I think the sport has the best potential for maximum entertainment when there's an equal playing field and the truly best talents, if they work hard enough, establish themselves at the top. The strongest and toughest guys, not the ones who are the best responders to whatever drug is en vogue or the ones who are willing to take the biggest risks with doping control.

I believe the cleanest cycling would be the most interesting cycling for the viewers.

NFL - eh, I can't blame those guys for doing steroids, their muscles are basically their crumple zones. If you're too slow or too weak, you're getting hurt. I also don't really blame doping (within reason) in MMA or boxing, and similar sports. But cycling is different.
 
The main reason I want to see clean(er) or at least clean-ish cycling is fairness. I think the sport has the best potential for maximum entertainment when there's an equal playing field and the truly best talents, if they work hard enough, establish themselves at the top. The strongest and toughest guys, not the ones who are the best responders to whatever drug is en vogue or the ones who are willing to take the biggest risks with doping control.

I believe the cleanest cycling would be the most interesting cycling for the viewers.

NFL - eh, I can't blame those guys for doing steroids, their muscles are basically their crumple zones. If you're too slow or too weak, you're getting hurt. I also don't really blame doping (within reason) in MMA or boxing, and similar sports. But cycling is different.
I think that the playing field is even at the top.
 
There was no sarcasm. It was a serious question, as I've said.
I think I now know the context of your question. You could have framed it more clearly, but I think that maybe I get where you're coming from. Thanks for the clarification.
I mentioned the NFL comparison a while back, and as an NFL fan, I get where you're coming from. We all know the players are on a variety of cocktails that allows even the heaviest to run insane speeds. Yet no one talks about it. I'm just curious how cycling got up to speed so quickly in terms of ignoring the obvious. If you mention the word "doping" in the Clinic, chances are you are met with a bunch of reasons why a rider is cleans. That's totally cool and to some extent understandable.
I don't know about you, but I've managed to compartmentalise and separate the spectacle from what more than likely goes on behind the scene. Many people here have done the same.
There's nothing like watching riders descend the Poggio at insane speeds without crashing. It really is breathtaking. But yeah, there's that, if you know what I mean.
"That" takes nothing away from the spectacle.
 
One big difference when referring to the NFL (or likely several other American sports) is that they don't care. In the case of the NFL we have a league that didn't exactly care about steroids or concussions until they were basically forced to do so. I still need to watch the movie Concussion which more or less proves the point. Baseball had bigger issues and fallout from players using steroids than the NFL suffered. Baseball goes back to being more relevant to cycling as steroids do make a bigger difference with batting and specifically home runs and pitching, whereas the level gained in football from any kind of PED is going to be lower. Unless you're using gloves with a sticky substance PEDs aren't going to help you catch the ball nor are PEDs going to help with technique or reading defense/offense, learning plays, or route running. Football has some big differences to other sports, plus it's obvious until pushed many times the league just doesn't care and I'm not sure how much the fans care either. (As a side note I knew 2 former NFL players. 1 lineman whom I went to high school with. Unfortunately he died early in his NFL career from a heart issue. The other, a kicker, I went to college with. I did not know either one from well. Also while in college a former NFL kicker worked for the media dept and got to know him some as I was involved in the student part of broadcasting the games and he helped me a lot with side line reporting which I did my senior year for the broadcasts.)
 
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I think clean cycling would probably be less entertaining than it is now.
That is one of the issues. Everybody witnessed the shows that the riders were giving us in the 90's. It felt like gladiators killing each other. As long as we were entertained, nobody cared. Sad but true. And now that I know a lot more I really don't care for it.

The problem if when the UCI cannot kill it completely but keep it at bay. At that moment it becomes very boring because it becomes very leveled. Groups come together or main GC contenders within seconds. But now it is starting to be different because we have witnessed several pieces of spectacular cycling with Strade and Tirreno together. But it is becoming ridiculous like the 90's again. Broken records every race.

Soon, if the UCI permits it like in the 90's, Pogacar will have company.

There are a group of fans, in this forum, that believe that cleaner cycling brings more spectacle, as was witnessed in the 70's and 90's. I agree with them. However it will never come again. Impossible. There is no way riders will go back to that level of cleanness. Besides, it wasn't by design, but by accident. Because the drugs weren't as effective. LOL. Otherwise they would have done the same as the ones in the 90's. So basically it is impossible.
 
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Doing 6 W/kg in certain year is not a surprise (someone was commenting). I think we have to expect that every year. It should not be a surprise under any era anymore. That would not be a distinction anymore. Breaking records in every race is. Doing 6.4 - 6.8 W/Kg is a concern. Verbier 2009, Alpe 1995 and 1997, Peyresourde 2020, Prati di Tivo 2021 is a concern. Because of the way the records were broken. Soon cyclists will be braking in the climbs like in the 90's.
 
So, Valverde pushing bigger numbers at the age of 40 in order to keep up, than what he was pushing "full dope" is making the peloton suspicious, and not the fact that a 40 year old now is seemingly capable of pushing bigger numbers than when he was in his 20s in a doped era? Errr what? I don't believe statements like this for a second, because i refuse to believe a 40 year old being physically more competitive than when he was winning 10 or more years ago. Neither do i believe statements of Bernal in the 2020 TDF that he was pushing his best numbers, while being dropped by a group of some 50 riders. Statements like that are nice to implicate other riders and teams, but i don't buy them for a second, or at least not at face value void of context. Bardet saying he's pushing bigger numbers in the TDF, but for the first time in years, he's able to follow the best climbers.

I also have an issue with the theory that covid testing is acting as a cover for dope testing. Unless teams, riders, trainers had a magic 8 ball telling them when covid would break out, when lockdowns would start/stop and when cycling would resume, it doesn't make sense. Nobody could predict how serious the pandemic would turn out, nobody could predict how long it would last. It would be very brash to assume it could be used as a cover. It is my understanding that winners are still being tested, and samples are still being kept on ice. Do we assume that in case samples of 2020-2021 get retested as soon as the pandemic has subsided, that we'll be seeing one positive test after another? I doubt it. That doesn't mean people can't be doping, but i don't believe they are taking chances because covid made for less tests.

Wind, rain, race conditions, motorpacing and tactics can have a huge impact on a single race, on climb speeds, average speeds etc. But you can't assume this to be the case when every race is faster, when every climb is faster, when all power outputs are higher.

Could a prolonged training and rest period during lockdown have improved the base level? Riders who were able/allowed to train outside during lockdown clearly benefited from lockdown, as opposed to riders who couldn't. I feel this hasn't been debated in full as opposed to the easy explanation. One doesn't have to exclude the other, but it could certainly explain part of the phenomena we've seen since covid. Better overall fitness would also improve energy savings during a race, having riders start a climb more fresh, much like a shorter stage would, or a succession of easier stages.

Do we know the exact effects of ketones? With a team like Sunweb kicking Hirschi, i have to assume they really want to stay on the clean side. As such, are guys like Bardet or Benoot going to be performing worse than they were before? Was Benoot underperforming during covid compared to other riders? For me, his PN performance was very much in line with what could be expected, neither was he outclassed by the competition. He was also part of "record breaking climbs". So why is Sunweb kicking Hirschi, but not Benoot? Can we assume Benoot is clean (i do for one).

It's clear that the younger generation is showing more relative "progress". Pogacar, Hindley, Evenepoel, Almeida, Hirschi... What do we know about scouting and training? I've often made this argument before, and i've only seen info basically backing this up. Riders that have been coming out of the U23 the past +/- 3 years, have had more/better training, equipment, intel, nutrition, coaching, power meters, lab tests... And better scouting. I don't know about other countries, but in Belgium, the national federation started scouting specifically for young talents over 5 years ago. Specifically on climbing abilities (which had been grossly neglected in Belgium for decades). Guys like Lambrecht & Evenepoel were basically posterboys of this management. When i hear stories of the way current +/-20 year olds have been training for years, how professionally they've been coached it is a night and day difference with the older generation, where riders were told by their fathers to train long and hard. No power meters, no lab tests, no adapted nutrition. Stories of wasted talents, overtrained too early and endangering their careers have become much more scarce. If you combine better scouting with better management at an early age, you get more talents breaking through at a younger age at a higher level (coming out of U23 ranks, closer to their potential ceiling). It would also mean they have less relative growth ahead of them. In Evenepoel's case, he's been training and managed since a far earlier age to be a top athlete, since he played football for Anderlecht and PSV, where physical guidance was far more professional than what kids riding bikes get at an early age.

It's also remarkable that none of the jawdropping performances are coming from the old generation. In previous doped era's there were always old geezers with nothing to lose, trying to go for glory. If they got caught, well, their careers were over anyway regardless. If they didn't get caught, even better. But not even the second rate old-timers (the most suspicious performers) are even close to keeping up. When there is a new wonder drug, first i look for are 35 year old break-through performers. They have the connections, they have the experience, and most importantly they have nothing to lose. To be clear i'm not saying all dopers are old timers, but when none of the big performances come from them, then i'm leaning towards something else than a new miracle drug. Where are the Piepolis, the Perauds, the Horners, etc...
 
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So, Valverde pushing bigger numbers at the age of 40 in order to keep up, than what he was pushing "full dope" is making the peloton suspicious, and not the fact that a 40 year old now is seemingly capable of pushing bigger numbers than when he was in his 20s in a doped era? Errr what? I don't believe statements like this for a second, because i refuse to believe a 40 year old being physically more competitive than when he was winning 10 or more years ago. Neither do i believe statements of Bernal in the 2020 TDF that he was pushing his best numbers, while being dropped by a group of some 50 riders. Statements like that are nice to implicate other riders and teams, but i don't buy them for a second, or at least not at face value void of context. Bardet saying he's pushing bigger numbers in the TDF, but for the first time in years, he's able to follow the best climbers.
It doesn't help for how competitive he is or isn't due to his fully admitting his motivation is more or less gone and he noticing a lot of things he never noticed or paid attention to when he was young as well. (Maybe the bigger question on this is how is a 40 year old without much motivation and sometimes more interested in things he's actually noticing now that he didn't before, like how nice some of the hotels are or places that would fun to take his kids, is still as competitive as he still can be.) Yet he's saying he is pushing bigger number now at 40 than when he was in his 20's in a known doped era. Now if he would be willing to post those numbers it would be interesting. Don't know if he ever will post any of his older numbers or not. He does on occasion put rides on Strava. If he might be willing to it's unlikely it would be before he retires.
 
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That is one of the issues. Everybody witnessed the shows that the riders were giving us in the 90's. It felt like gladiators killing each other. As long as we were entertained, nobody cared. Sad but true. And now that I know a lot more I really don't care for it.

The problem if when the UCI cannot kill it completely but keep it at bay. At that moment it becomes very boring because it becomes very leveled. Groups come together or main GC contenders within seconds. But now it is starting to be different because we have witnessed several pieces of spectacular cycling with Strade and Tirreno together. But it is becoming ridiculous like the 90's again. Broken records every race.

Soon, if the UCI permits it like in the 90's, Pogacar will have company.

There are a group of fans, in this forum, that believe that cleaner cycling brings more spectacle, as was witnessed in the 70's and 90's. I agree with them. However it will never come again. Impossible. There is no way riders will go back to that level of cleanness. Besides, it wasn't by design, but by accident. Because the drugs weren't as effective. LOL. Otherwise they would have done the same as the ones in the 90's. So basically it is impossible.
Yeah. The big question I have is what the upper limit is on what drugs these guys are taking right now
 
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As a follow up to my post, regarding the old generation on wondermeds, the most likely candidates would be Quintana and Fuglsang. Their biggest surge of form however predates covid. Quintana was smashing records early 2020, Fuglsang had an interesting 2019. So i guess they would somehow fit the description but then the covid theory can go out the window.

Neither were particularly impressive during GT's though, and neither came out of nowhere either. But they could fit.
 
@ Logic-is-your-friend: I don't want to get into the details but in Bernal's defense when he said that, it was the stage arriving at Pas de Peyrol (Le Puy Mary) where he was 6th among the favorites. The rest is just history. When he got dropped and rode in the autobus he never said that.

Having said that, I won't say that I don't believe him but I take what he said with a grain of salt. We are not sure exactly what he said when it comes down to numbers. But the back pain could very well exist there all his life, but aggravated trying to push too hard when he couldn't. He could be the classic example of dying completely after trying to follow fully doped riders (with whatever fuel they are taking). Lemond started this theory. And quite a few riders in the 90's supported this theory. Later we decided that on Lemond's case it was also related to his decline. There is full thread about it. In Berna'ls case there is the back pain as the escape goat.

Something was clear to me when Ineos coaches gave some press releases about the state of their team and the peloton and how there were paying outplayed. I am sure that they were pissed off. They went to Bernal and found the back pain as one of the scape goats. I am not saying it doesn't exist but it played perfectly into their hands. I am sure they went to regroup, made some hiring's (too many in my opinion), and probably thinking about tweaking some of the riders programs.

Forward 2021. To me it was clear Bernal was back. Maybe close to 2019 (according to the numbers). But, as some experts have said in some podcasts, he is not relevant anymore compared to Pogacar and Roglic. He was good before the stage to Prati di Tivo. Period. This time he managed to focus and control his mind and control his losses and come back the following day. And probably didn't try to follow what he thought it was impossible for him. Others tried, paying the price the following day. That is the perfect example of what we saw in the 90's. Many riders have tried to later find themselves riding in the autubus.

We will, maybe, find out the truth one day.
 
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We will, maybe, find out the truth one day.
If there is something going around in the peloton I really want to know what the *** that miracle juice is. Crazy that such a secret can be kept, I'd guess everyone who wanted to know knew about EPO about 3 minutes after it became semi-common. Or maybe there are many different magic potions out there, who knows...
 
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@ Logic-is-your-friend: I don't want to get into the details but in Bernal's defense when he said that, it was the stage arriving at Pas de Peyrol (Le Puy Mary) where he was 6th among the favorites. The rest is just history. When he got dropped and rode in the autobus he never said that.

Having said that, I won't say that I don't believe him but I take what he said with a grain of salt. We are not sure exactly what he said when it comes down to numbers. But the back pain could very well exist there all his life, but aggravated trying to push too hard when he couldn't. He could be the classic example of dying completely after trying to follow fully doped riders (with whatever fuel they are taking). Lemond started this theory. And quite a few riders in the 90's supported this theory. Later we decided that on Lemond's case it was also related to his decline. There is full thread about it. In Berna'ls case there is the back pain as the escape goat.

Something was clear to me when Ineos coaches gave some press releases about the state of their team and the peloton and how there were paying outplayed. I am sure that they were pissed off. They went to Bernal and found the back pain as one of the scape goats. I am not saying it doesn't exist but it played perfectly into their hands. I am sure they went to regroup, made some hiring's (too many in my opinion), and probably thinking about tweaking some of the riders programs.

Forward 2021. To me it was clear Bernal was back. Maybe close to 2019 (according to the numbers). But, as some experts have said in some podcasts, he is not relevant anymore compared to Pogacar and Roglic. He was good before the stage to Prati di Tivo. Period. This time he managed to focus and control his mind and control his losses and come back the following day. And probably didn't try to follow what he thought it was impossible for him. Others tried, paying the price the following day. That is the perfect example of what we saw in the 90's. Many riders have tried to later find themselves riding in the autubus.

We will, maybe, find out the truth one day.
In Bernal's case, it was also clear that him living in Columbia did not do him any favors in 2020. Even if the backpain is not the underlying cause of his lesser form in the 2020 TDF, this is a rather reasonable alternative to "the others were doped" theory. Obviously i don't read or follow Columbian press, but both Lefevere and Evenepoel had an opinion in Belgian press regarding Bernal's 2020 TDF. Evenepoel said Bernal was doing monster training sessions on Strava and thought he could be overtrained. Coming from Evenepoel, who doesn't shy away from big efforts, that has to mean something. But Lefevere did not agree, saying he could not imagine Bernal or his trainers making such mistakes. He thought Bernal, due to the lockdown, simply could not get his base level high enough before the start of the season, unlike riders from other countries. Lefevere also said that was part of the reason why Alaphilippe's TDF wasn't that impressive either.
 
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Doing 6 W/kg in certain year is not a surprise (someone was commenting). I think we have to expect that every year. It should not be a surprise under any era anymore. That would not be a distinction anymore. Breaking records in every race is. Doing 6.4 - 6.8 W/Kg is a concern. Verbier 2009, Alpe 1995 and 1997, Peyresourde 2020, Prati di Tivo 2021 is a concern. Because of the way the records were broken. Soon cyclists will be braking in the climbs like in the 90's.
I can easily hold .64 W/kg for two hours..oh wait, I got the decimal wrong. I do remember reading that it took 6 to win the TdF (or any GT) so 6.4 should make it seem easy. :eek:
 
If there is something going around in the peloton I really want to know what the *** that miracle juice is. Crazy that such a secret can be kept, I'd guess everyone who wanted to know knew about EPO about 3 minutes after it became semi-common. Or maybe there are many different magic potions out there, who knows...
I wonder about this too. Sky/Ineos gets hammered a lot for their nitro so when guys leave and get slower (or do they?) why don't they say "I just can't go that fast without Sky nitro"? It seems like people would be buzzing. Sky also got fingered for using motors so...what ever happened with all of the ranting about that?
 
NEW RECORD!!!!!
Let enjoy the rides!!!!!


Vallter 2000
2021:12,1 km@7,3%---32:08---average speed 22.59 km/h(Adam Yates)-RECORD
2019:12,1 km@7,3%---33:10---average speed 21.89 km/h(A.Yates-Bernal-D.Martin-Quintana)
2014:12,1 km@7,3%---35:25---average speed 20.50 km/h(Van Garderen-Bardet) (Source: Strava)
2013:12,1 km@7,3%---34:19---average speed 21.16 km/h(Nairo Quintana)


LOL. I was going to post that today we would see a new record if we continue the trend. If UCI do not intervene we will see Alpe 1995-1997.
 
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It's also remarkable that none of the jawdropping performances are coming from the old generation. In previous doped era's there were always old geezers with nothing to lose, trying to go for glory. If they got caught, well, their careers were over anyway regardless. If they didn't get caught, even better. But not even the second rate old-timers (the most suspicious performers) are even close to keeping up. When there is a new wonder drug, first i look for are 35 year old break-through performers. They have the connections, they have the experience, and most importantly they have nothing to lose. To be clear i'm not saying all dopers are old timers, but when none of the big performances come from them, then i'm leaning towards something else than a new miracle drug. Where are the Piepolis, the Perauds, the Horners, etc...
This is a very interesting point and one I’d welcome more discussion of. If there is some big new drug turning everything up to 11, why are the freakish performances skewed so young?
 
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This is a very interesting point and one I’d welcome more discussion of. If there is some big new drug turning everything up to 11, why are the freakish performances skewed so young?
Looking at the numbers, I believe Valverde's performance today can be considered jawdropping, and he's definitely from the old generation. In fact, he is in himself the oldest generation. Aside from that (and we must admit that Valverde has always been quite unique in that sense), I also find it shocking how the new kids on the block fall straight on their feet and are running at full speed from day one.
 
yes and you cant even say it was pacing, Valverde was off the front for almost the entire last 9km, he was joined by other attackers but he was absolutely not just sitting on a train. if Movistar finally found what everyone else is on this is gonna get real fun.

what's crazy is that there's barely any separation even though they're going so fast. there's 20 guys absolutely flying, in March, at the friggin Volta a Catalunya.
 

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