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

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Nov 14, 2013
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One look at Lances position and you can tell it is rubbish. He looked like crap on the tt bike. Still didn't stop him hitting 53kph avg tho.

Snippets I have picked up is EPO's effectiveness is it extends the time to exhaustion to a greater degree than moving the power up. Of course it does both but more so time to exhaustion.

ie Un-enhanced power profile:
P1s : 1500W
P20 : 400W
P60: 370W
P120: 350W
P360 : 340W

ie Enhanced power profile:
P1s : 1600W
P40 : 400W
P120: 370W
P240: 350W
P600 : 340W

So in a 1 hr TT the effect is less evident than in a 6hr mountain stage. I could be wrong but I like my delusions.
 
Nov 14, 2013
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ScienceIsCool said:
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.
I have developed this opinion too. I think the new frontier is efficiency rather than horse power. Aicar & GW1516 and similar. Bio-passport happy as.
 
Jun 5, 2014
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ralphbert said:
I have developed this opinion too. I think the new frontier is efficiency rather than horse power. Aicar & GW1516 and similar. Bio-passport happy as.
AICAR is the new fuel. Not as effective as free EPO but still very very effective. Fast fibers transformed into slow fibers , endurance enhanced by 44 % in animals WITHOUT exercise. Plus fat burning effect. Plus more energy released. Plus more glucose transported into the blood.
Difficult to test because the body produces it's own ( similar to testosterone).
I hope the big guns don't use GW1516 as the studies were abandoned due to cancer in the liver etc
 
Oct 16, 2010
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Dr. Juice said:
AICAR is the new fuel. Not as effective as free EPO but still very very effective. Fast fibers transformed into slow fibers , endurance enhanced by 44 % in animals WITHOUT exercise. Plus fat burning effect. Plus more energy released. Plus more glucose transported into the blood.
Difficult to test because the body produces it's own ( similar to testosterone).
I hope the big guns don't use GW1516 as the studies were abandoned due to cancer in the liver etc


Overall...when you read about AICAR...there is only positive things...like it's effective against diabetes ... I haven't read a single word about side effects ?
good post (in reply to other good posts).
there has been talk about an AICAR test. But nothing definitive, i believe.
As many have suggested already, retrospective testing would be the way to deal with this one.
I doubt WADA will commit to that though.
WADA is simply not independent enough and the IAAF/IOC/FIFA wouldn't ever allow them to bring down guys like Bolt/C. Ronaldo, etc.
Similarly, Cookson will never allow Wiggins/Froome to get caught. I hope he proves me wrong though.
 
May 8, 2009
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Dear Wiggo said:
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.
Exactly, this is a better number to discuss than average speeds.
 
sniper said:
good post (in reply to other good posts).
there has been talk about an AICAR test. But nothing definitive, i believe.
As many have suggested already, retrospective testing would be the way to deal with this one.
I doubt WADA will commit to that though.
WADA is simply not independent enough and the IAAF/IOC/FIFA wouldn't ever allow them to bring down guys like Bolt/C. Ronaldo, etc.
Similarly, Cookson will never allow Wiggins/Froome to get caught. I hope he proves me wrong though.
Remember the board that decides what tests are deployed and the criteria for a positive is run by the IOC sports federations.

They will slow-walk this one after the technical side has delivered an effective test.

The biology of the PED's is something I could get hugely wrong, but this is what's posted in bodybuilding forums.
Telmisartan is similar in effect to gw1516 apparently without the nasty carcinogenic effects. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20477906
 
Alex Simmons/RST said:
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).
Alex, it's simpler that that.

Per the post above, EPO's benefits are varying degrees of improvement in time to exhaustion, not dramatic shifts in power within non-PED time to exhaustion.

In a TT, all equipment equal, and some using EPO won't make huge differences in time. It gets **far** more difficult to move air aside the faster a cyclist goes. You know this far better than I do, but for the casual reader:

How much estimated power is needed to push more air out of the way from 40KM/h to 41KM/h?
How much estimated power is needed to push more air out of the way from 43KM/h to 44KM/h?

For me, the use of TT's to answer their question leads to a false conclusion.
 
Apr 3, 2011
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ralphbert said:
One look at Lances position and you can tell it is rubbish. He looked like crap on the tt bike. Still didn't stop him hitting 53kph avg tho.
well, in the original article they mention "Texas sharpshooter fallacy" - guess why
 
ScienceIsCool said:
Something to note. A 1.5% increase in speed is a 5% increase in power output (or reduction in drag).

Another thing to consider is that although top speeds increased by 1.5%, a lot of riders started winning (i.e., much bigger than 1.5% improvement) after being mid-pack previously.

John Swanson
The important point there is that it could also be a reduction in drag, not just an increase in power - perfectly possible over the time period in question, and in reality probably a combination of both.
 
red_flanders said:
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".
Ok Ned

Take a look at car design, boat design, and bike design and how they have evolved over the time period. People's knowledge has increased / improved. Can i define massively to satisfy you - probably not. Look what happens in F1 - changes have been brought in to slow the cars down (less powerful engines, less wing, grooved tyres) and within a couple of years the speeds are back to where they were before.

Some of that is aero, some is better engine design, etc.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Engine design hey? Hmmm.

Anyways, bike aerodynamics hasn't shifted much in the last decade. The bulk of aerodynamics is made up of the rider and people haven't changed shape much... Nor has position, clothing, helmet design, etc. People still use round water bottles.

So we're back to tuning the engine.

John Swanson
 
TheSpud said:
Ok Ned

Take a look at car design, boat design, and bike design and how they have evolved over the time period. People's knowledge has increased / improved. Can i define massively to satisfy you - probably not. Look what happens in F1 - changes have been brought in to slow the cars down (less powerful engines, less wing, grooved tyres) and within a couple of years the speeds are back to where they were before.

Some of that is aero, some is better engine design, etc.
Good point. I would be the devil's advocate though: isn't there much more to work with with regards to aerodynamic improvements due to the size/bulk/cross-section of a car/boat vs. a guy on a bike? And the engine for a man hasn't evolved, really (PEDs put aside). I remember BigMig and his Espada: put him in his Luxembourg '92 form against the best Tony Martin, IMO it's a toss up.

Note: what makes ITT comparisons tricky is that they never (or hardly ever) come back on the exact same course. And wind/weather on the flat is much more of a factor.
 
DirtyWorks said:
Except the UCI has gone to great lengths to limit/control drag reduction designs in sometimes arbitrary ways. So, the analogy falls apart very quickly.
Oh i agree, things get limited / banned. And i'm not saying that the gains from EPO aren't big, but i don't think technological gains should be dismissed either especially if they can result in a rider using less energy for the same speed output.
 
Jul 11, 2013
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TheSpud said:
Oh i agree, things get limited / banned. And i'm not saying that the gains from EPO aren't big, but i don't think technological gains should be dismissed either especially if they can result in a rider using less energy for the same speed output.
Not sure I'am correct on context here so correct me if so..

Technological gains aren't dismissed in the study...
Rather they are saying it is the cardinal point...

The problem is..
If they are correct in their assesment that speeds follow a linear curve even after the epo era..
Then it would mean that somehow these technological gains suddently increases massively after this epo-era..

Is that a likely scenario?
Or is it more likely that other doping-methods has compensated for the epo-era gains?
 
DirtyWorks said:
Alex, it's simpler that that.

Per the post above, EPO's benefits are varying degrees of improvement in time to exhaustion, not dramatic shifts in power within non-PED time to exhaustion.

For me, the use of TT's to answer their question leads to a false conclusion.
I think we can agree that it's flawed for a multitude of reasons.

DirtyWorks said:
In a TT, all equipment equal, and some using EPO won't make huge differences in time. It gets **far** more difficult to move air aside the faster a cyclist goes. You know this far better than I do, but for the casual reader:

How much estimated power is needed to push more air out of the way from 40KM/h to 41KM/h?
How much estimated power is needed to push more air out of the way from 43KM/h to 44KM/h?
Scenario A: 7.1% more power
Scenario B: 6.7% more power

Keep in mind that the speed relative difference is less from 43 to 44 than it is from 40 to 41, IOW 1/43 < 1/40.

If you'd asked instead what the power increase require to sustain a speed increase of 2.5% from 40km/h and from 43 km/h, then the answer would be 7.1% and 7.2% respectively.
 
mrhender said:
Not sure I'am correct on context here so correct me if so..

Technological gains aren't dismissed in the study...
Rather they are saying it is the cardinal point...

The problem is..
If they are correct in their assesment that speeds follow a linear curve even after the epo era..
Then it would mean that somehow these technological gains suddently increases massively after this epo-era..

Is that a likely scenario?
Or is it more likely that other doping-methods has compensated for the epo-era gains?
Well i haven't read the whole article so thanks for pointing out that gains aren't dismissed. I need to go and read it so i can put your points in full context.
 
Aug 3, 2009
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pmcg76 said:
I think people will find JV said speeds are down on the climbs.

On TTs, he said it was harder to quantify due to aerodynamics.

Never let what a person said be what they actually said when it can be misrepresented as something else entirely.
Pretty sure I read somewhere that, starting back in 2009-2010, ASO began creating Tour routes that had, on average, 20% more descending than ascending.

Something to do with Google earth, better geomapping, and a greater understanding of the variation between standard gravity and apparent gravity (earth as an ellipsoid rather than a perfect sphere, position of the moon relative to the northern hemisphere in July, greater centrifugal force counteracting gravity as you move away from the equator, etc.).
 
Alex Simmons/RST said:
Scenario A: 7.1% more power
Scenario B: 6.7% more power

Keep in mind that the speed relative difference is less from 43 to 44 than it is from 40 to 41, IOW 1/43 < 1/40.

If you'd asked instead what the power increase require to sustain a speed increase of 2.5% from 40km/h and from 43 km/h, then the answer would be 7.1% and 7.2% respectively.
Well, the exact amount depends on various parameters like bike weight, friction, etc. But we should all be able to agree that the faster you’re riding, the larger the % power increase needed to maintain the same % increase in speed. E.g., if 6.9% is needed to go from 40 to 41, then 7.2% is needed to go from 50 to 51.25. And the top end of their curve is at or near 50 kph for more than fifty years.

So if speeds are increasing at a linear rate historically, then power (if this were the only factor involved in the increased speed) is increasing faster than a linear rate. However, the deviation is rather small, and certainly within the uncertainty of their curves.

But the relationship does underscore why the conclusion of this study, even if correct, is not very meaningful. You can have fairly large increases in power hidden because they don’t increase speed that much. E.g., at 50 kph, an increase in power of 3% increases speed by about 1%. That gets lost in all the scatter, i.e., in any time period, the range in speeds is far more than that.

So even if the authors are correct that most of the speed increase is due to non-doping factors, that conclusion is not necessarily very meaningful. They’re focusing on a discipline where doping would have less effect relative to technological/environmental factors than it does in climbing, where the really big advantages of doping occur.

Furthermore, there are other issues the authors don’t discuss. Their main conclusion is that since there is an increase in speeds from the 1940s to the early 1990s that is about the same rate per time as the increase observed since the early 1990s, the latter increase is consistent with non-doping factors. But because of the scatter, one can’t say with any certainty that the increase in one period is not significantly different from the increase in the other. It would be perfectly possible for the increase in the earlier period to be due to technological/environmental factors, better training, etc., while that in the 1990s was due to doping. In fact, there is no reason to expect an indefinite linear increase in speeds because of non-doping factors.

Making this connection is particularly difficult since EPO use came very suddenly, over a period of time in which technological changes would be relatively minor. To demonstrate effects of technological changes one needs to look at periods of a decade or more, but changes resulting from doping can occur much more quickly. By smearing this out over a decade, in a set of data that already have a lot of scatter, the possibility of detecting a very real difference in the increase as a result of EPO, and that from other factors, is reduced.

Also, their data (Fig. 2) suggest a plateau from the late 1990s to the present. The curve over this period looks very different from that at comparable period of time during the preceding fifty years. Certainly because of the short period and the scatter, one can’t conclude that there was an increase during this period. Their data are quite consistent with speeds levelling off in this century. One could conclude from that that doping is just as effective now as it was in 1990s.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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sniper said:
nobody said it didn't apply to time trials either.
and in the Ryder thread it was shown that top climbing speeds aren't really down either (both Froome and Hesjedal beating records on MTFs). So which speeds are down? Be precise if you want to claim that speeds are down. It's an important issue.
The problem in the Ryder thread is comparing performances from different years and different race situations as equivalent circumstances.

I don't know about your experience but riders will try to go as slow as possible up a climb Recognizing that they are not going slow just that they would always be trying to conserve as much energy as they can. Go hard enough to drop the non climbers but not so hard they drop themselves.

Now for this subject. I am sure the physiologists will correct me if I am in error but I am under the impression that epo does not necessarily make a rider stronger as much as able to ride at peak output longer. So average speed should rise but top speed maybe not. IE a rider can work at his top power output for longer but the peak power is not influenced by EPO.
Does improved oxygen transport make you stronger? I don't think so? it pushed your AT higher and it definitely lengthens the time at AT which I appreciate increases average speed but not necessarily top speed.
Ok clinicians have at it :) Does any of this stand up?
 
Nov 14, 2013
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Master50 said:
Now for this subject. I am sure the physiologists will correct me if I am in error but I am under the impression that epo does not necessarily make a rider stronger as much as able to ride at peak output longer. So average speed should rise but top speed maybe not. IE a rider can work at his top power output for longer but the peak power is not influenced by EPO.
Does improved oxygen transport make you stronger? I don't think so? it pushed your AT higher and it definitely lengthens the time at AT which I appreciate increases average speed but not necessarily top speed.
Ok clinicians have at it :) Does any of this stand up?
Is there an Echo in here?
 
TheSpud said:
Oh i agree, things get limited / banned. And i'm not saying that the gains from EPO aren't big, but i don't think technological gains should be dismissed either especially if they can result in a rider using less energy for the same speed output.
Dear Spud,

You are over-optimistic if you are betting on speed from technological gains over this period.

There has been a lot of time and money invested, but much of that effort is to compensate for and optimize against increasingly stringent UCI regulations.

There were faster designs and faster positions that have been banned.

Here is some of the history:

2007 Changes

3:1 ratio rule introduced, Landis praying mantis position banned

2009 Changes

3:1 rule updated to include non-frame parts, citing handlebars, saddle tubes and pedal arms in particular (various forks and aero bars no longer legal)

2010 Changes

Prototype designs must be released as commercial (no more in-race testing or one-off handbuilt machines)
Stricter implementation of 3:1 rule effectively bans Cancellara’s Specialized Shiv

2012 changes

No helmet covers (Cavendish, Greipel)
No shoe covers for indoor tracks
Bont shoes banned
No Camelback on the chest a la Frank Schleck
Socks must be < mid calf (no more Wiggo socks)
Check for bike motors – no more Spartacus engines
No compression clothing
No mesh-closing surfaces, plain textile / open mesh fabric only

2013 changes

Aero water bottles banned (must be > 4 cm wide < 10 cm long), must be mounted within the main triangle (no more Luis Leon Sanchez configuration),
There must be a space between the bottle and the frame - P5 original bottle banned
Seat must be horizontal – no more Lance lip at the rear for better biomechanics

2014 Changes

Gear levers now measured from their ends / tips. No longer measured from their pivot point. This effectively reduced the length of the aero bars.
Height difference between arm rests and highest and lowest point of the extension limited to 10 cm. This is a further restriction of the ‘praying mantis’ position
Equipment cannot be modified to comply with 3:1 ratio
Equipment cannot be modified to hide frame or handlebar bolts (i.e. no tape over bike parts, no crank/chainring covers)

Dave.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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And how I have hated each and every one of those changes. Impressive list, how the f did you manage to get it all so neat? I knew them all, but they were suppressed bad memories!
 
Dear Wiggo said:
And how I have hated each and every one of those changes. Impressive list, how the f did you manage to get it all so neat? I knew them all, but they were suppressed bad memories!
Like you, I have screamed bloody murder at each and every one.

How did I manage to get it all so neat?

I guess I have a lower pain threshold. I also have a very (!) impressive collection of banned equipment going back decades, and could probably start a museum.

Dave.
 

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