State of the peloton 2022

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I always like to see a likely GT winner lose time on multiple stages to multiple combinations of riders when the time gaps are still small enough that you know the leaders jersey would not like to lose this time. This Vuelta is looking like a different sport to the TdF even if the climbing times yesterday were very quick (which hopefully may have been situational given the attacks started at the foot of the climb). It's almost like we are seeing riders on a level playing field compared to the men against boys of the TdF.
 
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@Logic-is-your-friend posted an interesting stat: average age of top8 at the Vuelta is only 23.6 yo (!) right now. Add to it guys like Pogacar, Bernal and Vingegaard. In the last 2-3 years there are more and more young GT contenders. Not only that, they are starting to dominate the competition actually. I don't think anything like this has happened since the 80s at least. Last years' winners of GTs and their age (except Roglic):
Tour 2019 - Bernal (22)
Tour 2020 - Pogacar (21)
Giro 2020 - Hart (25)
Giro 2021 - Bernal (24)
Tour 2021 - Pogacar (22)
Giro 2022 - Hindley (26)
Tour 2022 - Vingegaard (25)
Vuelta 2022 - Evenepoel??? (22)

I've read some opinions that young GT contenders means cleaner sport cause talent beats dopers. I think it could actually be the other way around: better and more professional training during teenage years and also an earlier application of PEDs. WDYT?
 
@Logic-is-your-friend posted an interesting stat: average age of top8 at the Vuelta is only 23.6 yo (!) right now. Add to it guys like Pogacar, Bernal and Vingegaard. In the last 2-3 years there are more and more young GT contenders. Not only that, they are starting to dominate the competition actually. I don't think anything like this has happened since the 80s at least. Last years' winners of GTs and their age (except Roglic):
Tour 2019 - Bernal (22)
Tour 2020 - Pogacar (21)
Giro 2020 - Hart (25)
Giro 2021 - Bernal (24)
Tour 2021 - Pogacar (22)
Giro 2022 - Hindley (26)
Tour 2022 - Vingegaard (25)
Vuelta 2022 - Evenepoel??? (22)

I've read some opinions that young GT contenders means cleaner sport cause talent beats dopers. I think it could actually be the other way around: better and more professional training during teenage years and also an earlier application of PEDs. WDYT?
When I was reading that same post I was thinking the same. I also wonder if they have found a way to beat the bio-passport with younger riders.

I just don't believe that the sport is cleaner now than let's say 5-10 years ago. Why would it be? People don't suddenly get nicer or more honest. The team managers, doctors etc. are also still all old dopers themselves, not a new generation that has nothing to do with it. There hasn't been a new development in the anti-doping fight, no big recent scare for the dopers, so... at best the peloton is just as clean/dirty as before. But then we see some serious developments that strongly hint at something having changed in the doping department, and it doesn't look unlikely that the two developments are somehow linked.
 
When I was reading that same post I was thinking the same. I also wonder if they have found a way to beat the bio-passport with younger riders.

I just don't believe that the sport is cleaner now than let's say 5-10 years ago. Why would it be? People don't suddenly get nicer or more honest. The team managers, doctors etc. are also still all old dopers themselves, not a new generation that has nothing to do with it. There hasn't been a new development in the anti-doping fight, no big recent scare for the dopers, so... at best the peloton is just as clean/dirty as before. But then we see some serious developments that strongly hint at something having changed in the doping department, and it doesn't look unlikely that the two developments are somehow linked.
Not to mention that at the same time the climbing times are actually becoming faster.
 
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I don't see an obvious relationship between doping and age. If anything, I think technology like power meters and structured training (trainerroad etc) help identify and develop talent at a younger age.
There is probably still a relationship between age and the load that the body can handle

Pinot age 18-23

Year Hours on bike Training load Distance (km)
2013 943 291608 29,340
2012 855 269278 26,932
2011 876 268674 27,722
2010 840 257938 26,355
2009 758 231380 22,717
2008 526 159165 14,654
 
There is probably still a relationship between age and the load that the body can handle

Pinot age 18-23

Year Hours on bike Training load Distance (km)
2013 943 291608 29,340
2012 855 269278 26,932
2011 876 268674 27,722
2010 840 257938 26,355
2009 758 231380 22,717
2008 526 159165 14,654
Wouldn't doping at younger age allow for bigger training loads though?
Quinn Simmons and his monster training rides spring to mind, but I'm sure other very young riders like Ayuso or C. Rodriguez or Evenepoel himself are far ahead of Pinot in terms of training load at same age.
 
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I've not looked at the stage route but with the GC contenders at this Vuelta I think we will see nothing like the top 3 and top 10 time gap spread we saw at the TdF. Perhaps more within the normal range of top9 all within 10 mins is possible and would convey something a little easier on the eye than the TdF.

This is despite Bahrain, Pog and Vingegaard all seemingly having zero grounds for fearing they'll be rumbled post-TdF (which must raise the confidence of cheaters everywhere to try more powerful options).

Basically I'm saying I expect lower time gaps in the Vuelta and for this to reflect badly on Pog, Vingegaard and Geraint'sTdF performances.
Top 7 within 9mins, top 10 within 13. Basically as expected so I'm happy to not assume anyone on GC was doping in a massive way or had access to advantages that others didn't. I'm not sure Remco would even have podiumed at the TdF if he'd been in this form.
 
David Rebellin finally retires at the age of 50. What I find interesting in the CN story is he says teams wouldn’t touch him after his doping ban. But if doping was ubiquitous in the peloton why would they be scared to sign him? Valverde had a very successful post ban career as did others including Alberto Contador?

Rebellin was already ancient when he got busted.
 
Wouldn't doping at younger age allow for bigger training loads though?
Quinn Simmons and his monster training rides spring to mind, but I'm sure other very young riders like Ayuso or C. Rodriguez or Evenepoel himself are far ahead of Pinot in terms of training load at same age.
What has the intensity been on those "monster rides"?

If they are done at a slow pace, then it dont necessarily raise any eye brows.

Mixing longer slower rides with intervals sounds like a pretty common way to train when it comes to sports like cycling, running, long-distance skiiing and so on.
 
What has the intensity been on those "monster rides"?

If they are done at a slow pace, then it dont necessarily raise any eye brows.

Mixing longer slower rides with intervals sounds like a pretty common way to train when it comes to sports like cycling, running, long-distance skiiing and so on.
I agree, but when it comes to scientific training the wheel hasn't been reinvented since the 90ies, maybe the fact that kids now have powermeters at a young age makes it easier to select and train properly early on.

A recent statement from Pogacar made me think a bit. He said that he thinks that he'll only be at his (current) peak for around 7 years overall and wouldn't wonder if he'd start declining in 2 or 3 years, he doesn't expect to be a top gc rider for a decade.
Source: https://cyclingtips.com/2022/10/the-losses-driving-tadej-pogacar/
He thinks that the new generation of young guys will have a shorter peak part of their career.
It's an interesting topic, is it what his coaches are saying and how much has it to do with how the train from a young age and how much with the type of stuff that is being used right now.
 
I agree, but when it comes to scientific training the wheel hasn't been reinvented since the 90ies, maybe the fact that kids now have powermeters at a young age makes it easier to select and train properly early on.

A recent statement from Pogacar made me think a bit. He said that he thinks that he'll only be at his (current) peak for around 7 years overall and wouldn't wonder if he'd start declining in 2 or 3 years, he doesn't expect to be a top gc rider for a decade.
Source: https://cyclingtips.com/2022/10/the-losses-driving-tadej-pogacar/
He thinks that the new generation of young guys will have a shorter peak part of their career.
It's an interesting topic, is it what his coaches are saying and how much has it to do with how the train from a young age and how much with the type of stuff that is being used right now.
Yes, maybe the peak/prime comes a few years earlier based on being ahead on training, nutrition and so on compared to the past. Kids from a young age are training like they are elite, or preparing them for an elite career in different type of programs, in a lot of different sports. Not just in cycling it is this way.

When you also have grown as much as you will and become the best version you can be, how long you can sustain being at a high level is still pretty much the same for most riders. As in the past. Then there will probably always gonna be an exception to the rule also, but that is a different story.

There is also the element of getting to the top and staying there for some time, but after a while you will get a bit comfortable and complacent. Soon you will feel like you are coasting it. You lose the hunger that you once had and thats when someone new comes along to replace you or you move on or get a new role. It could be similar to any career in life in that way or just life in general.
 
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David Rebellin finally retires at the age of 50. What I find interesting in the CN story is he says teams wouldn’t touch him after his doping ban. But if doping was ubiquitous in the peloton why would they be scared to sign him? Valverde had a very successful post ban career as did others including Alberto Contador?

Because the issue was never that those teams were scared that Rebellin would dope, or even that he would get caught again. The issue was that signing him was bad PR. Potentially that applied to other dopers too, but many of them were expected to get results that would outweigh that drawback. As noted, he was already ancient when he was suspended.

And while the top teams didn't want to touch Rebellin with a 10-foot pole, he still found teams for twelve seasons straight, so that says a lot.
 
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Because the issue was never that those teams were scared that Rebellin would dope, or even that he would get caught again. The issue was that signing him was bad PR. Potentially that applied to other dopers too, but many of them were expected to get results that would outweigh that drawback. As noted, he was already ancient when he was suspended.

And while the top teams didn't want to touch Rebellin with a 10-foot pole, he still found teams for twelve seasons straight, so that says a lot.
The teams were short sighted. Red Rick got it right - Rebellin was already old. Bad PR didn't stop Contador making a very successful return. Plus the fact Rebellin was even ride pro at 50 tells me he was obviously still very of capable of getting results. Upon his return from his ban in 2011 at the age of 40 he could still win (Tre Valli Varesine).
 
I agree, but when it comes to scientific training the wheel hasn't been reinvented since the 90ies, maybe the fact that kids now have powermeters at a young age makes it easier to select and train properly early on.

A recent statement from Pogacar made me think a bit. He said that he thinks that he'll only be at his (current) peak for around 7 years overall and wouldn't wonder if he'd start declining in 2 or 3 years, he doesn't expect to be a top gc rider for a decade.
Source: https://cyclingtips.com/2022/10/the-losses-driving-tadej-pogacar/
He thinks that the new generation of young guys will have a shorter peak part of their career.
It's an interesting topic, is it what his coaches are saying and how much has it to do with how the train from a young age and how much with the type of stuff that is being used right now.
It should be very hard to assess upfront. If it's based on the doping they take I doubt they woudl give this information. To me it seems more like an indication that Pog doesn't really expects to get much better than he is and is extrapolating from there.

I think it's as much mental as physical
 
The teams were short sighted. Red Rick got it right - Rebellin was already old. Bad PR didn't stop Contador making a very successful return. Plus the fact Rebellin was even ride pro at 50 tells me he was obviously still very of capable of getting results. Upon his return from his ban in 2011 at the age of 40 he could still win (Tre Valli Varesine).
Not only was he already old, but he'd publicly called his 2008 Olympic silver a "win for clean cycling" (not verbatim, but along those lines) so it rubbed a few people up the wrong way. A lot of the time how easily dopers have found their way back into the bunch has been based on how they behaved in the bunch prior to their bans and during them. Valverde may have upset a lot of fans with his MC Hammer act between Operación Puerto and them eventually getting him off the road in mid-2010, but inside the péloton he was largely regarded as an honourable rider, such as with the Szmyd deal in 2009 and almost coming to a stop to ensure he handed the Pole the win he'd promised him after Sylwester blew up in the last few hundred metres on Ventoux, so it was easy for him to return post-suspension without much trouble. Contrast, say, Riccardo Riccò, whose self-serving antics had made him many enemies inside the péloton such that he was instantly vilified as soon as he got caught, and treated as a pariah everywhere he went afterward. Elsewhere you had those like David Millar, whose rather feigned contrition meant his PR was much better outside the péloton than many former dopers, but his sanctimonious behaviour also saw him less popular within the péloton, bewailing that the bunch would increase the pace to chase down breaks that he got into. Or Emanuele Sella, who talked big time when he was busted, got a shortened ban as a result, but when he first came back he was regularly in the break since all he got out of a day in the bunch was a jersey covered in phlegm, as riders in the Italian domestic bunch castigated him either for doping, or for ratting out their suppliers.
 
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Regarding younger riders having more success and what that means.....I have no clue. The pessimistic take would be that riders/coaches are now more aware of the passport and how it works. The passport doesn't catch doping products, it catches major deviations. So if you could raise your "natural" levels prior to entering the passport, than you would have a major advantage. So the thought is that young riders are now privy to this and begin doping before they are officially in the passport. That way, their baseline is higher than it would otherwise be had they entered it natural.
 
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