Study: No Evidence for Superior Time Trial Performances in the “Epo Era”

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May 8, 2009
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the sceptic said:
what has changed in aerodynamics since 2003?

links?
In the UK TT scene aerodynamics have come a long way in that time. Michael Hutchinson for example, was domestic pro up until 2006 (solely focused on TTs) and had plenty of tunnel time. His fastest times over 10 miles (standard distance) are from 2012 and 2014 though at ~40 years old, training much less according to his book "Faster".

I was watching Millar's ridiculous world TT 2003 recently, where he faked a mechanical to tone it down towards the end, and his position seemed very high and wide compared to top guys nowadays.

Also, looking at CdA numbers from the wind tunnel in various cycling documentaries (e.g. Sastre in the CSC one, Lance in something or other) it's clear to me they have come down.

Obviously this is moot since Wiggin's reported power figures from 2012 for example show he would have been up there 10 years before that.

To conclude, aerodynamics has come on a lot in the last 10 years (check the specialized wind tunnel testing videos) for all the teams, for british "testers" - this doesn't have much bearing on the doping angle but it can be acknowledged without saying Sky invented aerodynamics so they are cleans
 
sniper said:
i said "top climbing speeds", with both Froome and Hesjedal beating records. But fair enough.
If I may ask, what did your data show for the period 2003-2013?
JV never said Top climbing speeds though, he said overall speeds are down which is different. Plus Hesjedal never beat any climbing records, the previous 3 winners on Alpe di Pampeago before 2008 were faster than Hesjedal but his time is still Top 10 overall but that is for 5 ascents only.

Why don't you look at the thread then. Considering you claimed it said the opposite, I am assuming you actually read the thread.
 
pmcg76 said:
Perhaps becasue aerodynamics play a bigger role in TTs than Climbs. There is only so light you can make a bike before if falls victim of the UCI rules.

Try this one for size, Christophe Bassons has Top 10 performances in TTs in races like Dunkirk, De Panne, GP des Nations during the peak EPO years(96-97) but has no equivilant performances in climbing stages. According to Bassons himself, he had the physiology of Hinault so......
TT's is where Bassons excelled maybe. There are very few that really care to prioritize that aspect of racing. And why should they either. They are needed as domestiques by the team. A good time in TT is useless for all but a few GC contenders.
 
veganrob said:
TT's is where Bassons excelled maybe. There are very few that really care to prioritize that aspect of racing. And why should they either. They are needed as domestiques by the team. A good time in TT is useless for all but a few GC contenders.
Maybe Bassons was a TT specialist but if EPO gives the benefits it is supposed to give, then a totally clean rider should not be finishing Top 10 in any top level TT.
 
pmcg76 said:
Maybe Bassons was a TT specialist but if EPO gives the benefits it is supposed to give, then a totally clean rider should not be finishing Top 10 in any top level TT.
Sorry, but my main point is that hardly any of the other riders would even be trying. In which case maybe Bassons could get a top 10. The races you mentioned were not high profile races for top GC riders, I don't know. I am asking here.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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the sceptic said:
Doesn't make any sense why speeds should be down in one but not the other.
The main factor controlling climbing speed is power to weight ratio. In time trials (flat ones) it's power to surface area. If a rider increases muscle mass, power will increase, but the extra muscle mass needs to be lifted and ergo smaller, lighter climbers tend to do better than bulky ones. But in a TT, the surface area of the rider increases slowly compared to muscle volume (i.e., area of a sphere is related to r^2, where the volume is r^3) so it's usually advantageous to add more muscle mass.

What gets really weird is the last few years where the guys have gotten *really* skinny but not lost any horsepower in the TT's. There's *got* to be something new out there that may or may not be oxygen vector based. My guess is that it's a metabolic enhancer of some kind that increases gross efficiency.

John Swanson
 
Bumeington said:
In the UK TT scene aerodynamics have come a long way in that time. Michael Hutchinson for example, was domestic pro up until 2006 (solely focused on TTs) and had plenty of tunnel time. His fastest times over 10 miles (standard distance) are from 2012 and 2014 though at ~40 years old, training much less according to his book "Faster".

I was watching Millar's ridiculous world TT 2003 recently, where he faked a mechanical to tone it down towards the end, and his position seemed very high and wide compared to top guys nowadays.

Also, looking at CdA numbers from the wind tunnel in various cycling documentaries (e.g. Sastre in the CSC one, Lance in something or other) it's clear to me they have come down.

Obviously this is moot since Wiggin's reported power figures from 2012 for example show he would have been up there 10 years before that.

To conclude, aerodynamics has come on a lot in the last 10 years (check the specialized wind tunnel testing videos) for all the teams, for british "testers" - this doesn't have much bearing on the doping angle but it can be acknowledged without saying Sky invented aerodynamics so they are cleans
So maybe it's accurate to say the brits finally caught up with the top teams WRT wind tunnels. What are the numbers which suggest drag coefficients have come down since Lance's numbers? Just Lance and Sastre? What about Ullrich, Beloki, Zabriske, Rogers, Basso and all the top riders who were using wind tunnels?

If there is an improvement, and I would assume there is a small one, what actual time difference does it account for?

This is all pretty subjective stuff to suggest aerodynamics has "come on a lot", whatever that means. We need to define "a lot" for there to be a conversation.

I seriously doubt it's changed enough to alter times more than 2% in 10 years. I'd actually be surprised if it's that much.
 
Parker said:
Where's the part in the paper which says it hasn't? After all, they are the ones who have seen fit to completely discount it.
They do not. But if you are serious about having a discussion rather than just obstructing them perhaps you can offer a little bit more details as to what the improvements were and when they happened, rather than just offering 1 word statements like "aerodynamics" as if that on it's own could invalidate any study or argument that challenges your crackpot world theory.
 
red_flanders said:
So maybe it's accurate to say the brits finally caught up with the top teams WRT wind tunnels. What are the numbers which suggest drag coefficients have come down since Lance's numbers? Just Lance and Sastre? What about Ullrich, Beloki, Zabriske, Rogers, Basso and all the top riders who were using wind tunnels?

If there is an improvement, and I would assume there is a small one, what actual time difference does it account for?

This is all pretty subjective stuff to suggest aerodynamics has "come on a lot", whatever that means. We need to define "a lot" for there to be a conversation.

I seriously doubt it's changed enough to alter times more than 2% in 10 years. I'd actually be surprised if it's that much.
Let's not forget that in the case of one successful rider in recent cycling history, a tt bronze medalist and tdf tt stage winner at that as well as performer of the 5th fastest tt in tdf history, he actually won the bronze medal and got 3 gt tt runner ups before he visited a wind tunnel.
 
The Hitch said:
Let's not forget that in the case of one successful rider in recent cycling history, a tt bronze medalist and tdf tt stage winner at that as well as performer of the 5th fastest tt in tdf history, he actually won the bronze medal and got 3 gt tt runner ups before he visited a wind tunnel.
Didn't you know? Aerodynamics just get better with the passage of time. Wind tunnels are irrelevant. People just know how to do it better later.

Training gets better too. Nutrition as well. No need to explain how, or how much it accounts for, just say it's better and everyone feels better that they have a way to rationalize the ludicrous performances they are watching.
 
May 8, 2009
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red_flanders said:
So maybe it's accurate to say the brits finally caught up with the top teams WRT wind tunnels. What are the numbers which suggest drag coefficients have come down since Lance's numbers? Just Lance and Sastre? What about Ullrich, Beloki, Zabriske, Rogers, Basso and all the top riders who were using wind tunnels?

If there is an improvement, and I would assume there is a small one, what actual time difference does it account for?

This is all pretty subjective stuff to suggest aerodynamics has "come on a lot", whatever that means. We need to define "a lot" for there to be a conversation.

I seriously doubt it's changed enough to alter times more than 2% in 10 years. I'd actually be surprised if it's that much.
Re the first sentence, I was trying to say that in the case of one athlete (who happened to write a book with lots of info in it), he's made a lot of aero gains in the last 10 years despite already spending time in the wind tunnel since pre 2003.
"Not long ago, I sat down and added up all the free speed I reckoned I'd gained over the last ten years or so. I had to guess some bits here and there, but overall I felt I had a decent grasp on the big leaps forwards. I have made four major position changes during that time, for example, and all of them were based on reasonably solid evidence, Skinsuits I've tested in the tunnel and on the road. Helmets, ditto, bikes, ditto, wheels, ditto. I didn't make any wild assumptions about how much I might have gained from one or two things I'd never really tested properly. I was realistic, perhaps even a little pessimistic. It was a nice, sober, exercise to while away a quiet winter evening.

"The problem was that when I added it all up, I should have gained about ten minutes over a 40km time trial. In reality I've probably gained more like two, maybe two and a half, and that's after I've made allowance for the fact I don't have as much raw grunt as I did ten years ago. Something over seven minutes has escaped." - quote from his book.

Anyway, I think aerodynamics is worth more than people realise, I don't think it says anything about the current doping culture/use amongst top time trialists
 
OK thanks.

For me that's all very vague, and "should have added up to 10 minutes" comment makes me tend to dismiss the comments. Unless there are specifics I don't think there's much to discuss. I would definitely like to know how far things have advanced since about 2000.
 
Dec 11, 2013
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red_flanders said:
I think so. No one was concerned with aerodynamics in 2003. I think Sky invented the science.
It would be interesting to see an analysis of times for local club 10s were I suspect that EPO and blood doping aren't factors.

I'd expect a dramatic increase in the numbers of riders breaking the 20 minute barrier.

If I can get hold of the data I might do it myself...
 
TailWindHome said:
It would be interesting to see an analysis of times for local club 10s were I suspect that EPO and blood doping aren't factors.

I'd expect a dramatic increase in the numbers of riders breaking the 20 minute barrier.

If I can get hold of the data I might do it myself...
Not that it has any relevance for elite athletes, but...

What are you hypothesising is causing these potential but as yet unknown improvements?

I have a hard time believing you could accurately characterize the speed of "club riders" (that's a BIG group) and if there were some kind of difference, nail down what was causing it.
 
Dec 11, 2013
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red_flanders said:
Not that it has any relevance for elite athletes, but...

What are you hypothesising is causing these potential but as yet unknown improvements?

I have a hard time believing you could accurately characterize the speed of "club riders" (that's a BIG group) and if there were some kind of difference, nail down what was causing it.
'Buying speed' by buying aero equipment.

My thoughts were to take the times for the 10 mile TTs run by Cycling Ulster on a particular course which they've been using for year and look at the times over as long a period as I can get data for.
 
red_flanders said:
I think so. No one was concerned with aerodynamics in 2003. I think Sky invented the science.
This. Is. Bang. On.

There have been improvements in bicycle frames. These improvements could account for a few seconds, NOT many tens of seconds. See note on 3:1 profile below.

There have been improvements in clincher tire aerodynamics (less so in tubulars) that could account for a few seconds.

BUT:

1. Lance's non-padded Giro helmet (i.e. his head fairing) is still the fastest ever and it is not legal (also worn by Tyler)
2. Indurain's Bell/Giro vortex helmet still (!) tests very well against the most recent designs
3. Lance's Nike swift suit is still faster than any other/current speed suit, and changes in UCI regulations have banned fast materials
4. Advantageous positions (e.g. Floyd's 'praying mantis' which had similarities to Indurain's position) are no longer allowed by the UCI
5. The UCI 3:1 aero ratio requirement has been a net aerodynamic detriment in frame, fork and aero bar design
6. The fastest wheels are still the same (rear disc, HED tri-spoke, 404s, 808s and deep tri-spokes)

Thus, net/net it is quite possible that aerodynamics have actually suffered.

Dave.
 
TailWindHome said:
'Buying speed' by buying aero equipment.

My thoughts were to take the times for the 10 mile TTs run by Cycling Ulster on a particular course which they've been using for year and look at the times over as long a period as I can get data for.
I don't get how that would shed any light on the topic given the different bikes and different level of the respective participants. At least at the top level of cycling you can say...this is and has been the top level. I don't know what Cycling Ulster is, but I would wager over time the talents of the riders are going to vary wildly.

For example, the best time on our local TT course according to Strava is some tri-dude doing it during a much longer ride: http://www.strava.com/activities/4500216/segments/84777330

That no club rider has beat that with a dedicated TT rig in a TT over that course tells you how wildly variable talents are at this level. And this is the bay area, which has been a hotbed of cycling since the 70's. The overall level here is high, with a lot of pro riders coming out of this scene.

Not that you would, but certainly don't let my naysaying stop you. Data is always interesting.
 
This is basically a continuation of a previous study by these authors, cited in reference 12 in the current study. I posted a link to the previous study and discussed it at some length here two years ago. Their argument was that GT ITT times had shown a progression that was not changed by the EPO era, and thus they concluded that LA's times were consistent with not doping. In the Discussion of that paper, they also argued that EPO might not be performance enhancing.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Wiggo admitted to doing 6.4W/kg for just over an hour in the final TT of the 2012 TdF.

This is a special TT power output at the very end of the Tour. Aerodynamics doesn't even factor in to the power number.
 
Merckx index said:
This is basically a continuation of a previous study by these authors, cited in reference 12 in the current study. I posted a link to the previous study and discussed it at some length here two years ago. Their argument was that GT ITT times had shown a progression that was not changed by the EPO era, and thus they concluded that LA's times were consistent with not doping. In the Discussion of that paper, they also argued that EPO might not be performance enhancing.
If that is the case then I have a hard time taking this study too seriously.
 
the sceptic said:
what has changed in aerodynamics since 2003?

links?
Well, knowledge of aerodynamics has moved on massively since then whether you want to believe it or not. It may not have given a huge increase in speed, but the understanding of it (and other factors) in all sports has increased.

Its easy to snipe from the side lines when you want - but don't be surprised when people give what you are saying little air-time.
 
TheSpud said:
Well, knowledge of aerodynamics has moved on massively since then whether you want to believe it or not. It may not have given a huge increase in speed, but the understanding of it (and other factors) in all sports has increased.

Its easy to snipe from the side lines when you want - but don't be surprised when people give what you are saying little air-time.
Martin, maybe people would be more inclined to listen to your critique of "sniping from the sidelines" if you provided some way of characterizing exactly how "knowledge of aerodynamics have moved on massively".

I would love to hear supporting evidence. Specifically for "massively".
 
Merckx index said:
This is basically a continuation of a previous study by these authors, cited in reference 12 in the current study. I posted a link to the previous study and discussed it at some length here two years ago. Their argument was that GT ITT times had shown a progression that was not changed by the EPO era, and thus they concluded that LA's times were consistent with not doping. In the Discussion of that paper, they also argued that EPO might not be performance enhancing.
I haven't looked at it, but it wouldn't be the first time the data say one thing and a study's conclusion another. :)

Perhaps it would be better to just focus on the data and work out what one can (and can't) infer from it.

Flat road speed is of course generally a poor proxy for assessment of performance changes due to its sensitivity to a multitude of factors (e.g. power, aerodynamics, environmental).
 
TheSpud said:
Well, knowledge of aerodynamics has moved on massively since then whether you want to believe it or not. It may not have given a huge increase in speed, but the understanding of it (and other factors) in all sports has increased.

Its easy to snipe from the side lines when you want - but don't be surprised when people give what you are saying little air-time.
Bullsh!t.

Have you invested your own money and time?

I can authoritatively advise that you don't know what you are talking about.

And, without having invested your own time and money, you are the one sniping from the sidelines.

Please see my post above.

There have been advances since Indurain's time. When Sky talks about 'marginal gains', however, the changes since Lance's time are definitely marginal.

I would be happy to discuss and quantify aero-bar designs, wheel designs, tire designs, frame designs, helmet designs, speed suits, shoe covers, long gloves, shaving body hair, 3:1 versus 8:1 airfoil profiles, bottle placement / absence / geometry, and the ever evolving UCI bans on just about everything useful.

Also happy to discuss and debunk, or at least partially deflate, various claims about the world's fastest tire, best place to put a bottle, etc.

Yes, there have been advances. There has been development of faster fork designs (e.g. Pinarello), for example, BUT these are NOT (necessarily) as fast as an 8:1 aero profile is or would have been. Thus, many 'advances' are simply new optimized compensations for the new UCI regulations.

If you could simply apply Triathlon regulations like seat set back you would have a faster bike than any UCI compliant bike / position.

Dave.
 

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