Question Tadej Pogacar and Mauro Giannetti

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It's about time we address Pogacars remarkable rise since he joined UAE in 2019.

His first season as a junior wasn't anything special, but we have to remember that he was born later in year (September) which is a disadvantage at that age.
In his second season he definitely proved his talent by winning the Giro della Lunigiana.
However, in the entire season he only won two stages and never put any distance on his competitors.
His time trial abilities were less impressive. A 25th and 68th spot.

His first season as a U23 rider wasn't too great either.
He won a few youth jerseys, but didn't record a single stage win.

His second season was definitely better, but still hit and miss.
He won the Tour de l'Avenir, but didn't record a stage win.
He also finished 7th at the WC road race.
Promising, but not exceptional.

Then he moved to UAE. Its CEO is Mauro Gianetti, possibly the dirtiest rider and sports director in history.
Suddenly he started to win stage races (Algarve, California, and individual mountain stages in the Vuelta against the likes of Valverde and Roglic.
He also became a much better time trialist beating Mohoric and Tratnik in the Slovenian championship.

Give me a break.
 
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Both are working/getting coached by Dr Millan, Ayuso has been for the last 1.5 years (already in the u23 ranks at Colpack where he improved a ton). He's one year younger than Pogacar when the later rode his first Vuelta, but if his career develops the same we can probably say that Dr. Millan a crucial element in the equation.
Dr Inigo Millan is good at tuning big engines and he will make sure to finetune his compatriot as well as possible. JV, watch out. Or, should I say, Teddy, watch out!
 
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It's his first full year as a pro.

Not that I find it a very compelling argument. Talent showing early is what you want, and saying "4th place at the Vuelta with one week to go" as if it's some kind of Herculean task is pretty funny to me.
How early? Earlier than the new normal of the 90's and early 00's, but this is not the return to the old normal from before then. This is different.
 
From the Almeida thread

Just to give some insight about what to expect from Almeida in 2023...

Just read a chronicle made by Gonçalo Moreira (Portuguese Eurosport commentator) in a Portuguese cycling site about Almeida´s future as a GT contender.
He is someone close to Almeida, went to Sierra Nevada UAE preparation camp last April (preparation camp towards "Il Giro") to be a few days around him and shared something he witnessed between Almeida and his Performance coach San Millán just after Almeida finished a climb at Hazallanas.
After San Millán collected and viewed Almeida's lactate threshold results he said (quote):

- You are very good atm but next year will be the year! Just wait for our comeback at the preparation camp next year and you will see how much better you will be!
... and the arms race continues...

And Almeida will go to Giro again 2023.
 
He can do both. He showed this year that he can manage 2 GTs and he will only go to the Tour as a helper, so he can chill for the first week.

Almeida said several times in the past that the change in training methods (or whatever you wanna call it ;)) will only show its effects next year.

I think his progression will be more linear and closer to normal. I don't expect a sudden change.
 
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I would say that podiuming a GT as a teenager (or even being in contention) is indeed an unbelievable exploit. How many times has it happened before?
Sure, it is a huge achievement. He's the youngest rider to podium a GT in, I don't know, over a century I think? But 3rd in Madrid and 4th after two weeks aren't the same thing.
How early? Earlier than the new normal of the 90's and early 00's, but this is not the return to the old normal from before then. This is different.
Do you mean Ayuso is different, or do you mean the combined performances of Ayuso, Pogačar, Evenepoel and other wonder kids?

I should probably clarify: when I say things like this, I don't mean they're clean. Mostly I look at performances like: is this "normal" for the peloton in its current state? Or is this over the top and suggests either heavier-than-normal doping, some kind of medical advantage, or (potentially)UCI corruption? When I see something as "normal for the peloton in its current state", that means I tend to think that how cleannish or heavily doped it is depends on how cleannish or heavily doped the peloton at large is (my impression for a decade now has been that the peloton has steadily become more and more heavily doped, or rather more efficiently doped, but we don't have a lot of data). Now, since I very much doubt that it's currently possible to perform at this level while riding clean, I would say Ayuso is probably a doper. But that's hardly noteworthy in itself.

My current theory for why so many youngsters are performing at the highest level is quite simple. Some time ago it would seem it was customary for very young riders and neo pros in serious teams to stay off the dope. This was so their potential could be assessed accurately, and also to ease them in. This was the reason why the top teams would often only trust their feeder teams. Perhaps that's not the current practice anymore, maybe teams feel they can assess a rider's potential accurately enough even if they get on the program immediately, or maybe the need for immediate results has proved more important than these concerns in the long run.
 
Sure, it is a huge achievement. He's the youngest rider to podium a GT in, I don't know, over a century I think? But 3rd in Madrid and 4th after two weeks aren't the same thing.

Do you mean Ayuso is different, or do you mean the combined performances of Ayuso, Pogačar, Evenepoel and other wonder kids?

I should probably clarify: when I say things like this, I don't mean they're clean. Mostly I look at performances like: is this "normal" for the peloton in its current state? Or is this over the top and suggests either heavier-than-normal doping, some kind of medical advantage, or (potentially)UCI corruption? When I see something as "normal for the peloton in its current state", that means I tend to think that how cleannish or heavily doped it is depends on how cleannish or heavily doped the peloton at large is (my impression for a decade now has been that the peloton has steadily become more and more heavily doped, or rather more efficiently doped, but we don't have a lot of data). Now, since I very much doubt that it's currently possible to perform at this level while riding clean, I would say Ayuso is probably a doper. But that's hardly noteworthy in itself.

My current theory for why so many youngsters are performing at the highest level is quite simple. Some time ago it would seem it was customary for very young riders and neo pros in serious teams to stay off the dope. This was so their potential could be assessed accurately, and also to ease them in. This was the reason why the top teams would often only trust their feeder teams. Perhaps that's not the current practice anymore, maybe teams feel they can assess a rider's potential accurately enough even if they get on the program immediately, or maybe the need for immediate results has proved more important than these concerns in the long run.
I also think power meter and contemporary training science and the average knowledge among trainers makes it a lot more easy to select for talent than it used to be when probably much more young riders trained inappropriately and were selected for training response to some old school 'common knowledge' training of the times.
 
Do you mean Ayuso is different, or do you mean the combined performances of Ayuso, Pogačar, Evenepoel and other wonder kids?
The latter.

Pinot, Bardet, Nibali, Contador etc. all showed promise quite early, but still took a few years before reaching the top level. Even Quintana was 23½ in his breakthrough Tour, three years after he won Avenir.

Some of the change is down to different training philosophy and sports science, some of that is down to earlier access to the full program, mostly because of the change in the economy of doping; but I also think it's linked to The New Acceleration in the peloton. Either (or both) because it's easier and quicker to optimise a good program now with the new formula or the full effects of it are being felt sooner, or that young age in itself is an advantage with more malleable longitudinal parameters that offsets to a greater degree now the disadvantage of not having fully matured yet.
 
In so far as a neutral playing field makes any sense, or in the alternative world without doping, would you really expect riders so young to do so well? Is this phenomenon a normalisation from a previous perverse state, or is it beyond that with the scale tipping in the other direction now?
 
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In so far as a neutral playing field makes any sense, or in the alternative world without doping, would you really expect riders so young to do so well? Is this phenomenon a normalisation from a previous perverse state, or is it beyond that with the scale tipping in the other direction now?
It’s interesting to look at peak age in other sports. Gymnasts peak very young which makes sense based on flexibility, generally starting at a very young age, and smaller bodyweight/size. Swimmers also tend to peak young but with a bit more variability. Then you have all the running disciplines peaking at later and later ages as the distance goes up, at least for aerobic disciplines.

I don’t know much about football/soccer but American football generally sees athletes improve a great deal in their 20s which has traditionally been attributed to taking time to develop the muscle/size/strength. Strength sports in general seem to be dominated by late 20s and sometimes 30s athletes.

Then you have ultramarathons and long distance triathlons where athletes in the 35-39 and sometimes even 40-44 age groups often do better than the 20-29s, although that may have more to do with access to the sport and limited saturation of talent. Top level pro long distance tri/running is still a bit more dominated by slightly older athletes but it’s been getting tighter.

Not sure if I was going anywhere with this but I think my outlook is that the physiological peak age of cyclists is probably still a bit lower than where it has historically sat, and as access to the sport and management of talent continues to increase it will probably settle somewhere in the early 20s.
 
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Not sure if I was going anywhere with this but I think my outlook is that the physiological peak age of cyclists is probably still a bit lower than where it has historically sat, and as access to the sport and management of talent continues to increase it will probably settle somewhere in the early 20s.
Agreed. Potential VO2max peak is in early 20s but it takes a lot of professional training to make the most of one's potential (i.e. maximizing sustainable percentage of VO2max and increasing VO2max itself). Better training methods in early years is probably the reason why those young guys dominate GTs fully utilizing their potential. The less intense, longer and steadier efforts needed the less critical is VO2max, which means 40 yo guys can be competitive (obviously their VO2max is still high but more importantly their aerobic effort efficiency is great after years of training).
 
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Agreed. Potential VO2max peak is in early 20s but it takes a lot of professional training to make the most of one's potential (i.e. maximizing sustainable percentage of VO2max and increasing VO2max itself). Better training methods in early years is probably the reason why those young guys dominate GTs fully utilizing their potential. The less intense, longer and steadier efforts needed the less critical is VO2max, which means 40 yo guys can be competitive (obviously their VO2max is still high but more importantly their aerobic effort efficiency is great after years of training).
I would really like to know more about why VO2Max can be higher at a younger age but other aspects of efficiency are better later on. You hit on it to some degree, but I’ve never quite understood it. I’ve also noticed the same traits in my own experiences.
 
I would really like to know more about why VO2Max can be higher at a younger age but other aspects of efficiency are better later on. You hit on it to some degree, but I’ve never quite understood it. I’ve also noticed the same traits in my own experiences.
Those young guys winning GTs show that other aspects of efficiency can peak earlier as well (with good training). As for VO2max it's associated with max. HR, which naturally peaks at a young age. Then again, it's only potential. If you only play computer games at the age of 20-25 and start training later you will obviously peak with your VO2max later.

Actually cycling is very interesting regarding efforts - they are usually very long (so a lot of base training and high aerobic threshold is needed) but practically (due to aero drag, advantage of holding wheel and climbs length) the races are usually decided by 5-60 minutes efforts (which means superb values of VO2max and anaerobic threshold are crucial). In a way this must be the most difficult endurance sport and those guys are superb in a wide spectrum of efforts length.
 
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