Why are the riders faster this year ?

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If wearing a face mask does indeed "hamper" the amount of oxygen you would otherwise breathe in
Hasn't this been discounted by reliable sources? It's one of the arguments favoured by the anti-mask Covid-is-a-conspiracy nutjobs but (as is to be expected) there is no evidence that a mask reduces oxygen levels in a person’s blood.

Furthermore, I'd wonder how long you'd have to be wearing a mask for this to have any impact and how long riders actually wear masks (not long)
 
Hasn't this been discounted by reliable sources? It's one of the arguments favoured by the anti-mask Covid-is-a-conspiracy nutjobs but (as is to be expected) there is no evidence that a mask reduces oxygen levels in a person’s blood.

Furthermore, I'd wonder how long you'd have to be wearing a mask for this to have any impact and how long riders actually wear masks (not long)
This week i heard a statement from a specialist, who said it wasn't a good idea to have riders put on a mask right after the end of the race, because they need to take in more oxygen. So i'm pretty sure it will have "some" impact at the very least. Also, i think these guys wear masks easily one hour a day or more, every day, for the past x months.

If it doesn't reduce anything, then why not wear the masks during the race?
 
Isn't it argued that the performance change was visible before the hiatus?
Perhaps, but I was not commenting on that given that this is occurring in TDF GC context. There have been very fast rides before, but I would think that TDF GC context is sort of a special case. Either way, I offered a rejoinder of what others had said about the "optimised program + training" scenario as one plausible explanation for what we are seeing, not something I would nail onto the mast as the only possibility.

As for the mask thing, it will surely obstruct breathing and thereby reduce tidal volume, but necessarily not oxygen. Plus, perhaps, make the respiratory muscles and the heart to work harder to make up for the deficit. So, it quite likely affects things negatively and therefore is not worn in races.

But I don't see how wearing one in training would be very efficient as a means to improve aerobic capacity. In healthy athletes the main performance constraints related to oxygen are its delivery from the lungs, ie cardiac output (or stroke volume, really), and its utilisation in working muscles (capillarisation, mitochondrial volume & function), not the amount inhaled per se.

But perhaps there are tons of pubmed papers arguing my understanding is wrong.
 
So... i have a crazy theory, which is 99.9% likely to be stupid, but keep an open mind just in case there is some truth in that 0.1%. What if wearing a face mask all the time, not unlike using an oxygen tent, also stimulates creation of red blood cells? Oxygen tents simulate breathing on altitude, having the body take in less oxygen than normal. What if constant breathing through a face mask also has a similar effect?

If wearing a face mask does indeed "hamper" the amount of oxygen you would otherwise breathe in, think about the fact that these guys are probably wearing face masks several hours per day. It just might offer some explanation. We're hearing top riders who are pushing their best numbers ever, and still not being the best in the race. Bardet said everyone was going super fast... but so was he. Bernal is suddenly even pushing bigger numbers than last year. Roglic and Pogacar are insane... and yet good old Porte and Landa only lose a couple of seconds. So if everybody is on a higher level maybe we should try to think out of the box and look further than "everybody is doping more". Hence my slightly insane theory. In case this theory gets debunked, i have no medical degree so it only makes sense for me to have no idea what i'm talking about. In case there is truth to it, i have already patented the concept you motherfckers! I have already bought a few thousands of masks on Aliexpress and am rebranding them "altitude masks" as we speak.
It's not a crazy idea to have, but it is a hard no. 'Hypoxic' and higher Co training are already known, as is altitude, and the regular wearing of masks does not impact sats, as there has been considerable work to ensure they don't (we don't want healthcare professionals operating in a compromised state!)
 
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Somebody should have explained that to Gastronomic Thomas:D

The Speeds got a ketone boost
Sponsors pay cyclists thru the year. So expectation is to race thru the season instead of only in the TDF. But i donot think freshness is a factor for everybody except some. Temperature and humidity can play a role as well in the power output of a rider. Motivation also is an important factor if raced perhaps as the last race of the season.
Certainly, there were a few prominent riders who seemed to lack the necessary self discipline to do their homework during lockdown, but the majority sure do look like they did.

As for doping while the testing was reduced, dopers would have just pushed back their schedule to suit. They wouldn't be taking tins of EPO when they had no race schedule, just whatever they would normally do in the off season, just a touch more maybe.

There's no point in going full Riis when there's no racing...
 
Andy Schleck said the same thing. He said that there is no way that you can replace 4-5 hours of training with the rollers. He said that it is extremely hard to do that. Some riders probably tried but the majority just couldn't replicate that.
training indoors worked ok for Matt Hayman before he won Paris-Roubaix as a 36 year old
 
Reading through all this I think a point needs to be made. While testing may have been down, they will still be being tested at the Tour and many of these riders have years of passport data logged. It's certainly not perfect, but it would be a big risk to go thermonuclear and risk the protracted legal fight that would no doubt come about if they tripped the system. While the risk is decreased, it's still a big risk and you know that the backlash would be massive as people can see the opportunity to dope given by COVID is large, so assumptions will be very strong.


As for hypoxic training via the use of masks, it's not something I've read up on hugely but from what I recall the science is pretty much up in the air (which a lot of the time means it doesn't really work). I remember Matt Hughes and Pat Miletich wearing gas masks in a video I saw when I was into MMA, and I think Marshawn Lynch was linked to trying them (which seems weird for something that you'd think is for endurance athletes) but that's it off the top of my head.

I think there's just too many variables to draw any conclusions. Some riders will have been able to train outside, some won't. Some will have had their team around, some won't. Lockdown has been tough mentally on everyone and pro riders facing months away from their family are no different. Some will cope better than others. Cycling is also a very "traditional" sport in how it is done. The dogmatic view is that you need racing in your legs to perform at your best and this has always been how schedules are developed. The amount of racing you need is varied, and you might not be going all out at every event, but that's how it's always been. Maybe now they're finding that actually very little to no racing would be better. Or maybe it's better for people who really can go deep in training, but others need the competition to achieve those last few % points of their optimum level. Anecdotally, when the local bunches and chain gangs started up a couple of months ago, the speeds were all stepped up. There were more riders out, which will have an effect, but KOMs and records were getting broken by reasonable margins and there wasn't an increase in the category or riders out, it was still the same folk who are out every year, plus some newer racers of a similar level.

Essentially, I think it's fun and interesting to speculate, but unless several people get popped or this situation goes on for several years, it's going to be really hard to unpick all of the changes that have happened and work out which ones might have made a difference, if there really is a difference.

*Edits because lockdown has destroyed my ability to use coherent grammar...
 
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What happens when you question the assumptions/claims underlying the notion that Slovenians were on the roads during lockdown while others were trapped in the shed?
First off, can you introduce yourself?

I’m Primož Roglic. I’m 30 years old and Slovenian.

Where have you spent this period of global quarantine? Can you tell us a bit about where you live?

I spent the whole lockdown at home in Slovenia. I am fortunate to be able to live in the midst of greenery and in nature, so I have not suffered much from having to stay at home. Instead, I tried to convey the message to others that you had to stay at home, It’s a question of respect for yourself and for your neighbor.

What has training looked like for you?

Thanks to Zwift and the rollers, I was able to continue pedaling, even without being able to train outside. Obviously, it was a completely different workout. I never really liked the rollers, I always preferred to ride outside, even in winter when it is cold or in bad weather.

It was strange to be able to train solely and exclusively on the rollers for more than forty days. Some days, I even had more than two sessions a day. You need to be very focused to be able to hold on to the rollers for more than three hours.

Although with Zwift you seem to be pedaling somewhere real, it’s not the same as the wind in your face, and the fatigue isn’t the same. I cycled every day with my child who enjoyed holding my water bottles, and this was the best thing about riding inside.

How have you been staying mentally fit during this time?

The lockdown was a very strange moment for an athlete of my caliber, who is used to being away from home for training at least four hours a day and staying away from home for competitions, retreats and commitments with the team for more than 250 days a year. Usually, I’m only off for a few weeks in October, and I’ve never had the chance to spend so much time at home with my family. It was pleasant to spend time with my little boy, who was born last year shortly after the Giro d’Italia. I had the opportunity to be able to spend a lot of time with him, to see him grow up and to be a dad full time.

I can say that, thanks to my family, I have not suffered so much.
 
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Reading through all this I think a point needs to be made. While testing may have been down, they will still be being tested at the Tour and many of these riders have years of passport data logged. It's certainly not perfect, but it would be a big risk to go thermonuclear and risk the protracted legal fight that would no doubt come about if they tripped the system. While the risk is decreased, it's still a big risk and you know that the backlash would be massive as people can see the opportunity to dope given by COVID is large, so assumptions will be very strong.


As for hypoxic training via the use of masks, it's not something I've read up on hugely but from what I recall the science is pretty much up in the air (which a lot of the time means it doesn't really work). I remember Matt Hughes and Pat Miletich wearing gas masks in a video I saw when I was into MMA, and I think Marshawn Lynch was linked to trying them (which seems weird for something that you'd think is for endurance athletes) but that's it off the top of my head.

I think there's just too many variables to draw any conclusions. Some riders will have been able to train outside, some won't. Some will have had their team around, some won't. Lockdown has been tough mentally on everyone and pro riders facing months away from their family are no different. Some will cope better than others. Cycling is also a very "traditional" sport in how it is done. The dogmatic view is that you need racing in your legs to perform at your best and this has always been how schedules are developed. The amount of racing you need is varied, and you might not be going all out at every event, but that's how it's always been. Maybe now they're finding that actually very little to no racing would be better. Or maybe it's better for people who really can go deep in training, but others need the competition to achieve those last few % points of their optimum level. Anecdotally, when the local bunches and chain gangs started up a couple of months ago, the speeds were all stepped up. There were more riders out, which will have an effect, but KOMs and records were getting broken by reasonable margins and there wasn't an increase in the category or riders out, it was still the same folk who are out every year, plus some newer racers of a similar level.

Essentially, I think it's fun and interesting to speculate, but unless several people get popped or this situation goes on for several years, it's going to be really hard to unpick all of the changes that have happened and work out which ones might have made a difference, if there really is a difference.

*Edits because lockdown has destroyed my ability to use coherent grammar...
People sacrificeded for legs better grammer?

No but I think the lock down accidentally leading to better training is much more likely in the amateur scene than in a pro peloton where heaps of money are spent on training and optimizing schedules.
 
People sacrificeded for legs better grammer?

No but I think the lock down accidentally leading to better training is much more likely in the amateur scene than in a pro peloton where heaps of money are spent on training and optimizing schedules.
I'd agree, but small differences are all that are needed at the pro level to make the difference between Tour winner and also ran. There's also the issue that optimising is based on previously held beliefs. They might be right and it may have no effect, but they could also be wrong.

Performance isn't the only thing teams worry about. They have sponsors to please, they have races that they are required to attend and they have riders who want to do specific things. It's all a balancing act. The changes this season have had a large effect on all of this, I just think it's too difficult to unpick it all.
 
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I'd agree, but small differences are all that are needed at the pro level to make the difference between Tour winner and also ran. There's also the issue that optimising is based on previously held beliefs. They might be right and it may have no effect, but they could also be wrong.

Performance isn't the only thing teams worry about. They have sponsors to please, they have races that they are required to attend and they have riders who want to do specific things. It's all a balancing act. The changes this season have had a large effect on all of this, I just think it's too difficult to unpick it all.
That's true. But I think the difference we see in climbing times is so big it's hard to believe it's accidental. Especially when part of the peloton seems to be struggling due to a lack of racing (especially earlier), and it would also not explain the crazy performances we saw in February/March.

And if not racing was actually so helpful, I'd expect more accidental clues it helped from riders who hadn't raced in a while due to whatever reason, but riders coming back from bans usually take a while to get back to their level if at al, and I might expect to see some riders best GT performances correlate with lighter spring racing loads, while I think historically most top riders have flown for large parts of the season in the years of their best performances. Nibali might be an exception, but he wasn't able to replicate 2014, and you might argue for some random cases like Carapaz or Horner, but they're minority cases IMO.
 
Reading through all this I think a point needs to be made. While testing may have been down, they will still be being tested at the Tour and many of these riders have years of passport data logged. It's certainly not perfect, but it would be a big risk to go thermonuclear and risk the protracted legal fight that would no doubt come about if they tripped the system. While the risk is decreased, it's still a big risk and you know that the backlash would be massive as people can see the opportunity to dope given by COVID is large, so assumptions will be very strong.


As for hypoxic training via the use of masks, it's not something I've read up on hugely but from what I recall the science is pretty much up in the air (which a lot of the time means it doesn't really work). I remember Matt Hughes and Pat Miletich wearing gas masks in a video I saw when I was into MMA, and I think Marshawn Lynch was linked to trying them (which seems weird for something that you'd think is for endurance athletes) but that's it off the top of my head.

I think there's just too many variables to draw any conclusions. Some riders will have been able to train outside, some won't. Some will have had their team around, some won't. Lockdown has been tough mentally on everyone and pro riders facing months away from their family are no different. Some will cope better than others. Cycling is also a very "traditional" sport in how it is done. The dogmatic view is that you need racing in your legs to perform at your best and this has always been how schedules are developed. The amount of racing you need is varied, and you might not be going all out at every event, but that's how it's always been. Maybe now they're finding that actually very little to no racing would be better. Or maybe it's better for people who really can go deep in training, but others need the competition to achieve those last few % points of their optimum level. Anecdotally, when the local bunches and chain gangs started up a couple of months ago, the speeds were all stepped up. There were more riders out, which will have an effect, but KOMs and records were getting broken by reasonable margins and there wasn't an increase in the category or riders out, it was still the same folk who are out every year, plus some newer racers of a similar level.

Essentially, I think it's fun and interesting to speculate, but unless several people get popped or this situation goes on for several years, it's going to be really hard to unpick all of the changes that have happened and work out which ones might have made a difference, if there really is a difference.

*Edits because lockdown has destroyed my ability to use coherent grammar...
Going "thermonuclear" isn't necessary to create a higher level. There's plenty of room for significant training benefit with a modest increase in preparation with substances which clear in hours or days.
 
And if not racing was actually so helpful, I'd expect more accidental clues it helped from riders who hadn't raced in a while due to whatever reason, but riders coming back from bans usually take a while to get back to their level if at al
I'd love to see your list of riders returning from three-to-six month bans (for the life of me I can only really think of Simon Yates at the top level in recent years, who else you got?). I mean you're surely not talking about riders returning from two-to-four year bans, are you?
 
I'd love to see your list of riders returning from three-to-six month bans (for the life of me I can only really think of Simon Yates at the top level in recent years, who else you got?). I mean you're surely not talking about riders returning from two-to-four year bans, are you?
Contador was noticably worse when he returned.
 
Remind me of the deets there, my brain is borked. He had a winter ban in 2010/11, which doesn't really count, then he was off for what was it, six months in 2012? And upon his return he won the Vuelta after a brief warm-up at Eneco?
Contador only raced Eneco Tour between San Juan and La Vuelta. He was noticably worse than in 2011.
 
But he still won the Vuelta, right? With six months of training without racing?
But he wasn't flying like they do now. He was worse than he was in 2011, but in 2011 his peak was so much better than everyone else he could be off his best but still win.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez was in the form of his life in 2012, and he was flying all throughout the year.
 

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