Friday Shorts

Ban powermeters? After Nairo Quintana’s statement a few readers have emailed in asking for thoughts on this. For starters the possibility of a ban happening seems somewhere between impossible and unimaginable so any debate is academic.

Quintana probably didn’t even mean it. He wasn’t delivering a presentation from behind a lectern but probably just make a quick remark outside the team bus to stir up Team Sky rather than give a reflection on the use of technology in sport. What’s perhaps more interesting is the sense of experimentation and change, that there are always elements to be changed in order to make the contest and the spectacle better. Just as when some found the Tour de France wasn’t as exciting as hoped for there were soon calls to change the rules or format of the race and so on.

Thibaut Pinot

Thibaut Pinot saved up prize money as a junior and used this purchase an SRM. Now he won’t race again this year after abandoning the Tour de France mid-July. A virus and then “persistent fatigue” has left him unable to resume training properly. What to make of Pinot’s season? It’ll be interesting to see if people remember him for his Tour de France flop or whether all the success prior to then is remembered, including the time trial improvements? Normally Pinot would aim for the Tour of Lombardy – he was second last year – but if the route has yet to be announced, today’s L’Equipe also quotes Marc Madiot who says the course has changed a lot and there’s only one steep climb in the final 50km meaning it’s not worth Pinot trying anyway. The Lombardia route will be officially unveiled next week.

One fixture, at least in the Vuelta a Espana, is the tradition of an official song. This year’s offering is “El Ganador” by Marta Sanchez, a big name in Spanish pop music. The Giro used to have one too but it’s been dropped. A quick check of the Spanish social media and blogosphere suggests 1983’s “No tengo tiempo” by Azul y Negro, a Spanish version of Kraftwerk, is the cult hit.

Contract deadline: onto musical chairs now and we’re in September which means any pro holding out for a contract renewal from their team has to be informed in writing by the end of the month by their current team whether they’ve got a job or not. A normal courtesy but also black and white in the rules too. Only almost every year some riders wait in vain, some even into November, only to find they’re not getting a renewal and by then rosters are full elsewhere too.

18 teams, 17 places? With the Chinese takeover of Lampre and the creation of Bahrain-Merida there are now 18 teams chasing 17 World Tour places for 2017. Who will lose out? The points arithmetic says Dimension Data are in an awkward place at the moment as they’re last on the rankings. They need more points or signings to meet the sporting criteria ranking. The Chinese and Bahraini teams will surely see World Tour status as an important validation of their ambitions but they need to secure the right signings. But what if Bora-Hansgrohe said “no thanks” or rather “nein danke” to a World Tour licence? With Peter Sagan alone the team scores well – if Sagan was a team he’d be 12th on the UCI World Tour team rankings – but it’s Sagan’s charisma that matters more and ensures the team a start in every race they want and there’s Rafał Majka to help too. They’ve only got 16 riders so riders so far and without the obligation of doing all the World Tour races they don’t need to recruit a squad of thirty but could manage on 22-25 riders. Either way it’s livened up the jobs market for riders still without a team but holding points.

Nibali Aru

The 2017 Giro will start in Sardinia, the scenic island where Fabio Aru was born. As the 100th edition it’s said the route will celebrate Italy with a visit to Sicily likely along with the “greatest hits” of the Giro like the Passo Stelvio which part explains why this year’s route lacked several celebrity climbs, they were being saved for next year. What about Fabio Aru? Does Astana’s leader go back to the Tour de France to make amends or must he start in Sardinia, a chance too good to be missed?

A frequently asked question at the moment is whether the Vuelta puts grand tour doubles back on the agenda. One hypothesis cited on here several times is that it’s probably a matter of fashion, if one rider succeeds then it’ll tempt others to copy; conversely if someone fails then others will be wary just as Alberto Contador’s 2015 Tour de France put people off. Now with the likes of Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde doing the Tour-Vuelta double does this open the way for the Giro-Tour double? Probably not as the Vuelta is seeing riders trying to make do with whatever form or energy they’ve got left, the physiological equivalent of cooking with leftovers. By contrast everyone wants to go to the Tour de France pinging with form, as sharp and as refreshed as possible so surely the Giro-Tour double is not the same as the Tour-Vuelta?

Talking of local riders and starts the 2017 Scheldeprijs will start in Mol, the town where Tom Boonen lives. This mid-week race will be Boonen’s last race in Belgium before riding Paris-Roubaix the following weekend and retiring on Sunday evening. It’s a nice tribute and illustrates Boonen’s status in the sport.

ASO + RCS = ? L’Equipe has bought the TV rights to show the Giro d’Italia and other RCS races in France for 2017 and beyond. Is this a sign of the Amaury family, owners of L’Equipe and the Tour de France, extending their corporate tentacles into Italy? Perhaps but it’s also the story of the past rights-holder in France, BeInSport, focussing on soccer; plus L’Equipe’s review of its TV channel where it looked at throwing in the towel among other options but decided to continue, invest and live cycling has brought in good audiences. It’s also likely to be a small value purchase so this is probably more about business than politics and powerplays.

Stagiaires and U23 racing: it’s worthy of a full piece here some day but for now a quick observation: once upon a time taking a stagiaires was a way to test a promising rider in pro races, both to see if their legs were good enough and then to check they fitted in with the team. Now all this is known thanks to a range of development and feeder teams so when, say, Axeon Hagen Bermans’ Adrien Costa rides with Etixx-Quickstep this season there will be few surprises. It’s a more a way for Specialized to help advance the career of a rider in their stable. Similarly Tour de l’Avenir winner David Gaudu is part of FDJ’s “foundation” team and he was helped on the final climb of the race by Léo Vincent of CC Etupes, the amateur team that’s fed enough pros into the top flight to compose a strong Tour de France team (Pinot, Barguil, Adam Yates, Vakoč etc). Gaudu beat Italy’s Edward Ravasi, a member of the enduring Colpack U23 team which is now Lampre’s feeder team. In short recruitment and talent detection looks a lot more refined than it was a decade ago and a lot of the risk has gone with many neo-pros much more a known quantity.

72 thoughts on “Friday Shorts”

  1. Interesting piece as always IR, thanks!

    “The points arithmetic says Dimension Data are in an awkward place at the moment as they’re last on the rankings”.

    When I first read this I couldn’t quite believe that Cannondale were not at the foot of the UCI WorldTour Team Ranking (IAM are also below them but are obviously folding).

    Being nosey I then had a quick look to see who was getting their points and was surprised to see that their highest points scorer in the WorldTour Individual Ranking is Alberto Bettiol (131) with over a third of their tally. For comparison, this is significantly higher than Team DDD’s Mark Cavendish (their highest scorer) who has 80 points despite a good number of wins in the TdF this year.

    I appreciate there are many ways to skin cat, but my perception is that Team DDD has had a very impressive season so far, whereas Cannonade has been very poor, however in the fight for a WT place, the rankings would seem to disagree!

    • Bettiol for example had a good Tour of Poland by finishing third overall and placing in the top-10 on a couple of stages. It’s not a huge haul but this kind of result helps and is exactly the kind of points haul that can make him and other riders valuable right now although I think he’s staying put at Cannondale.

  2. I may be mistaken but aren’t GPS devices banned in the pro peloton?
    I have read stories of riders dropping out of races and getting lost on the way to the finish line.
    If this is the case then power meters could be banned.
    It would be interesting if they were, but would it make a difference? They are not used on the track yet riders there are well able to calculate their watts and effort.
    All that said, I am a techno geek and I don’t want the sport going back to woolly top and carrying tubs over the shoulder.
    The only thing that should be banned (in my humble opinion) is coaching from the DS to the rider via the radio.
    Don’t get me wrong radios should stay, after all if you need a wheel, water, gel, or info on the street furniture they are invaluable.
    But coaching on for example distance to the break, pace of riding, how a rival is looking, what gear to be in on the hill and so on should be banned.
    But I hear some of you cry, how can this happen…well as a techno geek I suggest that behind the medical car there is a comms car/van that picks up the teams radio traffic and relays it back to a group of commissars who monitor it and issue warnings/fines as needed.
    Some of that radio traffic could also be played out to the TV audience ala motor racing.

    • Where dos the perception, banning some technical things would mean “going back to woolly top and carrying tubs” come from? Living in a dichotomous black and white world must be hard.
      Small motors in tubes are banned and I still can’t see riders with tubes on their shoulders. How comes?

        • I grew up racing in the wooly jerseys. They have their benefits.
          But they were scratchy as hell also and you needed more watts in the rain with extra kilos. 😉
          I don’t miss them, but I never would trade my old handcrafted steel bike from these days for modern carbon crap. Three generations of my family raced on this frame. No one ever will say this of a carbon one….

          • So, nearly all modern wool jerseys use much, much finer wool fibres, so the scratch generally is gone. My Orca, Swobo and (especially) my Vulpine woollen base layers, t-shirts and jerseys are lovely and soft on the skin.

            Rain maybe an issue, though I very much doubt it adds kilos. 😉 That said, I still prefer wool as it does much better at keeping you warm when wet. Synthetics just suck at keeping you warm when wet, weight for weight.

            Note, I live in a pretty rainy, showery place where you nearly always have to expect to get rained on! For showery weather, I wear a woollen jersey-jacket over woollen base and/or jersey. For heavier / more prolonged rain, I wear a silicon-treated cotton rain jacket over woollen base and/or jersey(s).

            Oh, all that synthetic stuff is made from oil. Not sustainable at all.

  3. Never mind power meters, looks like Quintana’s peak years will be spent chasing super-aero time triallists-cum-slimmed-down-climbers, probably on lighter bikes too at some inevitable point, as the rules continue to evolve?

    • Which is all very well and good, and will be most interesting to see.
      But, not alas, if you’re over 35 years old to partake of, I may venture?
      I mean, modern cycling can be something of a symbol of mid-life crisis anyway, but an older rider atop a stealth triangular piece of graphene / carbon, forget it! 🙂

  4. The Quintana “Ban Powermeters” thing seems to be mainly journalists looking for a story that is not there.

    After Quintana’s non-specific comments, the UK ITV4 at-race interviewer (Daniel Friebe?) said directly to Froome “Quintana wants to ban you from using a Powermeter” and Froome replied “I’m sure he didn’t just mean me” and then made a jokey remark about also returning to using single-speed bikes.

    Then the studio host Gary Imlach signed off the show with a comment that nobody should mentioning powermeters to Froome with the implication that it was a touchy subject, when it clearly wasn’t.

    • This is my intuition too. Its also my intuition that no rider works on numbers alone either. Indeed, it would be stupid to do so. Having a plan based on performance stats and knowing how you feel and what you can achieve at a given time on a given day on a given road are completely different things. The idea what Froome would suddenly be at the back of the peloton if you took his power meter away is as naive as it is ill thought out. Besides this if you have radios DS’s in team cars could still give you pretty similar information over the radio anyway. You only need a stopwatch and fixed points to make the necessary extrapolations, all other information being known from training and testing.

    • My take on Gary Imlach’s conclusion of that highlight programme is that he was poking fun at the Spanish media who tried their best to make a non news into news (probably at the specific Spanish Journalist with terrible English who struggled to figure out the English word for power meter whilst interviewing Froome).

      It was a sarcastic comment on other media’s over reaction on the topic and I find it a quite hilarious piece of British Satire (especially coming out of Gary’s straight face. Man, he would do well as a stand up comedian).

    • And it struck some people as odd that Valverde and Quintana should be so down on power meters given that they use them at every race…!

      The whole power meters thread just seems to be another way of having a go at Sky and Froome (by the fans, not Movistar) despite the fact that there is no real evidence that they effect the way they race. People say Froome races to his meter but the evidence that does is based on the fact he rides head down. It’s all armchair supposition from a distance.

  5. I would take power meters of bikes in a race. Have them for training by all means but not for racing. Which other sport has such a mechanism to regulate your efforts? I can’t honestly think of any!

    • Tracking cycling has a coach walking the line to signal whether the rider needs to up the pace or back off. Athletics goes as far as having pace-makers running to set times in marathons. In cycling all you need is a stopwatch or a speedometer and you can work out the speed or time needed.

        • I’d argue using a power meter does too. A spreadsheet might say a rider can do a climb at X watts but it’s always going to be subjective in reality, a rider could be on a good day or tired and so they could be 5-20W plus or minus the prescribed pace. So no matter what the screen says the human element surely features a lot.

          • Not saying the human element doesn’t exist, it definitely does. However the training that they do should allow cyclists to know whether they can do a climb at a certain speed and the reliance on a screen to verify this seems superfluous.

          • Not to mention the crazy fluctuation in power meter readings. Instant power is basically useless. Even 3 sec average jumps up & down so crazily that sometimes all you can do is to read a rough trend with +/- 20W margin of error.

            30 second average will be a more stable number to read, but it has a huge latency in terms of reflecting your effort level. In climbs with a lot of gradient variation, you relative effort peak may already be over by the time 30 second average power number catches up.

            Point is, it really isn’t about staring at the power number and ride accordingly. The number gives you a good long term average to check against, but actually effort control is still down to individual riders.

          • Heart rate monitors should be banned to for this to work. I mean, I know I will not be able to attack when I’m at 185bpm, so I should stay put, till the last 300m. It’s irrelevant if I’m doing my usual 250w or not. When you’re not well the HR will show it to you, in conjunction with the power meter.

    • Have you ever used a powermeter?
      Depending on my state of rest, fatigue, temperatures, etc, your power can easily vary +/-10% or more for the same heart rate & perceived exertion.
      You can “ride to power” and still blow up, based on other external factors. It’s a tool that has to be used intelligently. Sky apparently does so, whereas the Spanish teams & riders have often seemed to be years behind in the sports science.
      This can get silly if one takes “level playing field” to an extreme —
      -everyone on same make & model of bike, tires, shoes?
      – everyone limited to same # bottles of water or drink, and same fluids?
      – everyone gets measured for power-weight ratio, lead weights added to make it “fair” ?

      • In boxing they do categorise fighters by weight and only allow same category to compete. May be that’s a way for cycling to sneak in more Olympic medals…LOL.

        Imaging a gold for 70kg cat road race and another for the 60kg cat road race. Then Froome fans & Quintana fans wouldn’t need to fight each other as the two riders are in desperate races.

        • I’m firmly in the camp that less technology on bikes is better in races. How far should this go and can this actually happen in the modern day? Probably won’t go far enough for some and probably won’t happen as there are to many vested interests and the bike races are great avenues for equipment to be advertised. I find it a pity that this detracts from some great racing recently.

        • In what other sport you see athletes looking on their damned computer device to see where they stand and what they should do?
          Imagine Ali in the Trilla of Manila looking on his “smart” watch and say, “well, I couldn’t go more rounds, that’ts it folks” or the hitmeter in the “Rumble in the Jungle” counts to much and stops the fight……Bob Beamon’s Ipad telling him he can’t jump more than 8.10 in Mexico…..I want to watch humans doing sport, not humans following algorithms.

    • Its routine in many elite endurance sports to use technical devices to measure & pace effort to ensure you don’t blow up – most elite road runners (marathon/half marathon) & many race walkers use HRM’s & pace by them in competition. Most elite long distance track runners (1500 / 3000 M 5k & 10K) use the stadium clock to pace, some use hrm too.

    • But where is the hard evidence they make any difference during the race?

      My understanding is they are used overwhelmingly as data-collection systems to analyse and track performance over time. The idea that they change riding style is pure speculation.

  6. Interesting bit about Bora but surely if they turned down the World Tour licence this would be perfect for the ASO in their never-ending search to find a way to make sure Sagan doesn’t win the green jersey again? They could just not give a wildcard to Bora and, hey presto, the green jersey competition at the Tour is re-invigorated once more.

  7. Great collection of interesting stuff today, thanks! First, this song played on the RAI Giro coverage (usually during the cartoon sequence pictured) back in May as it has for a few years. The damn thing has grown on me to the point I sort of like it now.
    18 teams chasing 17 spots – somehow I think if the UCI thought only 17 teams were interested in a top-tier spot it would be 17 teams chasing 16 places. How the hell did they decide on 17 vs 18 of the past?
    Giro on TV in France? I can still remember following La Corsa Rosa over the Izoard into France one year – and finding out the race was nowhere to be found on French TV – Sacre bleu!
    I’m happy that Quintana (and others) brought up the power-meter issue since I’ve been ranting about getting rid of ALL things battery-powered since electronic shifting was allowed. Battery-powered shifting systems are like an electric toothbrush – no clinical evidence that they’re better than a manual toothbrush, but they have their rabid fans. Electronic shifting adds nothing but cost and complexity. If they truly were superior it’s hard to believe guys like Nibali would be using a mechanical system or there would be a market for the newest/latest “overshift” chain-watchers to prevent the chain being shoved outwards off the big chainring by the powerful servo-motors. Meanwhile plenty of chains seem to fall off to the inside as well.

    • Indeed but that goes back to the point about Pinot above, of how much our experience of the season is shaped by the Tour de France. Cummings, Cavendish and Boasson Hagen have all won outside of the Tour de France but now we see the secret value of riding for eighth place on GC because of the points haul it brings.

    • Welcome to the conclusion that cycling over the year is much more than the TdF. If it would be that easy to get a license if you only have to show something over 3 weeks in the summer….

      • Or the alternative conclusion that the World Tour points system is broken and irrelevant, awarding consistency and mediocrity over occasional spectacular success.

        Do any of the fans honestly track or care about it?

        I’d kindly suggest the points system is due for re-balancing.

  8. Inrng today you got a shout out from the announcer/commentator on NBC’s Velta pay per view here in the US.

    I think he is an Aussie announcer.

  9. Races without power-metres…
    Quite imaginable, as quite a lot of people are imagining it. And quite possible, as it just requires a powerful organiser saying: I want none of this in my race, take it or leave it. To frame the discussion in these terms is like saying “this is simply irreversible, let’s not discuss this further”. Which by the way is the strange strategy governing/media elites have been try to force on people on so many issues, only to find people increasingly determined to achieve reversal.
    Because the frame for the discussion is very simple: WHY SHOULD THESE DEVICES BE ALLOWED in the first place? What value do they bring to the sport? Refusing to confront this question means admitting defeat.
    And you can’t have it both ways. If they don’t change racing significantly, then they shouldn’t be there, because they don’t add anything. And if they do change racing: do they change it for the better or not. But, at any rate, it is up to the proponents of power-metres to make their case. Riders and teams in the first place.
    Can anyone seriously defend that for example a TT is the same with or without these things?
    r without power-metres

    • I suppose the other question to ask is if this is really about anti-power meter? Or actually about trying to find ways to handicap Sky? It’s not like Power Meter was introduced this year. It has been used for years and only after the Sky success people start to moan about it in large scale.

      As for power meter to prove it’s value, stage 20 this year has already done it. Many criticisers of Power meters are indicating that the device played an important role in Froome’s recovery. Assuming that is true then Power Meter actually saved the Vuelta from dropping into a boring one horse race, not to mention the suspension (Is Froome done or not?) it helped to provide on the day.

      As for the ITT situation, not sure watching riders blowing themselves up off screen (or on screen with viewers having no hope of actually knowing whether they are blowing up or doing well) makes exiting racing. Might as well have all of them optimise their ride and doing the fastest time they could. Not to mention the fact that even with power meters, riders manage to blow themselves. A certain bedevilled Tasmanian in this year’s Tour and Froome in 2014 Vuelta comes to mind.

      • Blowing… I think the essence of cycling can pretty well be summed up by riders but one blowing up, and then fighting to go on in ultra-low cadence. Yes: anything that helps them not to blow is bad for the sport.
        As for TTs: power-metres simply change the nature of the exercise, completely. It becomes another sport. Much more boring, too. And it hence decisively changes the nature of GTs. How do you like it?

    • The TTs make little sense with a powermeter, indeed. And combining it with a cardio as everyone usually does, you don’t risk to be having a bad day without being aware, like “riding to the power just to discover you’re blowing up” or, on the contrary, going to a given power when you in fact had more margin.

      To me, it’s fine if you want to train with it, but it takes a very relevant skill away from the competition when it’s used there. Switching a set of personal skills with technology and “sport science” (ultimately, products bought by your team) might have a logic in motorsports – where a good deal of damage was done introducing substitutive tech, by the way – , but I don’t see the advantage for cycling.

      It’s not about boredom or froomedom, it’s about the externalisation to an object and to your team’s analysts of some of the abilities which were the core of cycling as a sport with a *technical* component (embodied in the athlete’s competence). Technology against technique.

      Obviously, the teams will always be favourable to it, as they have always been to doping, or any other application of science which might shift the balance from individual talent to technology. Whatever makes people more fungible will do.

      • Let’s be clear, the only way to eliminate power meters is also to eliminate communications with the team cars as the functional equivalent can be generated by specialists watching a race on TV, or in a team car.

        For many of the riders, after much training, they can use other data like heart monitors as non-perfect proxy. If one calculates a cumulative score of something like – heart rate x zone x time in zone – you can understand how much you have left – again a proxy. You can add in cumulative feat climbed, speed, grade…. all of sudden you have plenty of proxies. So that would argue that every head unit would have to be limited to basic functionality.

        To a lesser degree, if you are going to eliminate communications, on important stages you can just place people at important places on a stage (climb) to share data. It all becomes a more expensive proposition for the smaller teams to be on equal footing with the big teams that can employ more people.

        So, without anything what do you do? You have your team set a high enough pace – so you can’t easily attack, which negates the advantages of some of the climbers that seem to be very good at surging, recovering and surging repeatedly.

        As I previously stated – technology is a great equalizer for lower budget teams/riders.

        There are better ways to improve the sport than trying to keep improvements out.

        • I’m glad you make this point. Once power meters have been used in training and very thorough tests done its relatively simple to make generalized estimates of power during a race anyway using simple maths. Isn’t this what armchair judges and juries have been doing for years anyway? Those in the car could be giving the same figures through the earpiece that riders now get on a screen. It then becomes petty to ban the screen. Power meters don’t tell a single rider what to do neither do they determine how a rider feels at any given time. But I do note they are more associated with one team and rider than others. Hidden agenda? Of course.

        • You’d need to know in detail the terrain of every climb that you think might be relevant in every stage. And the exact position of the riders in every moment. We’re still quite far from perfect telemetry. TV images are often late and don’t always show what you’d need to see. Most specialists do their calculation afterwards.
          Well, you could program the bike computer to produce the figures with the help of GPS data (which are far from exact, too).

          The support would become way slower, less accurate and less authomatised.

          Even if, yeah, Lance indeed called Ferrari that day towards the Joux Plan… which brings us to the point made by King Boonen below.

          And your proposal about having your team constantly raising the rhythm to avoid attacks wouldn’t be that good for riders who prefer a lower pace before the final burst… Even keeping a consistent high rhythm for that purpose isn’t the easiest thing without knowing what the implications in terms of power are.

          All that said, this has nothing to do with my point, which is that any innovation which externalise rider’s key-skills-in-action to technology makes cycling a bit poorer.

    • I suggest you address your “what value do they bring?” question to every rider in the pro peloton. Is there even one who doesn’t use one IN EVERY RACE?

      • Of course it has a value for riders, otherwise they wouldn’t use them. (I’m not that dumb). But the rider’s perspective doesn’t matter (I think here lies most of the mistake). When we say “value”, it means value for the race, that is, its organiser and its spectators. If some rider wants to use a technical device, he must first convince the organiser and the public that they will see a better, with more drama, comedy, and tragedy value (hope i make myself understood here). If he cannot make his point, and the device simply turns out to be for his personal performance/comfort, the reply must be: sorry, but this is not needed.
        I’m seeing this mistake in perspectice (taking the rider’s perspective) too often, like the guy who doesn’t miss wook jerseys because they itch or get heavy with humidity. No reasons from the organiser and fan perspective?

        • Ferdi, pardon me if I wonder out loud what “value for the race” even means. Its seems some kind of subjective code for “things Ferdi likes”. What’s more, your approach to racing seems to be that if something can’t, a priori, show its worth by this subjective test then it shouldn’t be allowed. This seems completely backwards to me. Should clip in pedals and shoes be allowed then? I don’t see what value for the race they offer over the old toeclips and straps. Should aero helmets be allowed? Those old leather ones did a job. How about high tech microfibre skinsuits? Wool jerseys were used for years without any complaint. And you could surely get more bidons in one than todays skintight affairs. How’s that for “value”?

          Unlike you I have no problem taking this mostly from a rider perspective. These people are the race to all intents and purposes. And the only fans I see complaining are hardcore types who probably go out riding themselves on expensive machines and in pro kit. This, you must admit, is a small percentage of the total. And which organisers have been clamouring for their removal.? I’ve not heard of any. And why would they? Froome’s power metter, if you put his ride down to it, has given us a race in this Vuelta. You want to take that away? You want to potentially make racing less close? Others have pointed out that these power meters are actually a cheap and relatively easy way to level the playing field by allowing riders better to gauge their efforts and those of others relative to each other. I would call this race “value” because it makes it more likely a race will break out. Maybe you live in a rarified atmosphere where the only true win is one achieved on passion and feel. I have no problem with this. But that’s because I don’t think a power meter changes anything in this regard. You still need to be able to attack, sustain effort, defend a lead and everything else that winning a bike race entails. A small electronic device on your stem doesn’t change that one bit. Your ogre is a phantom of your own imagining.

          • Well said – it’s disquieting to hear the fans complaining about how the professionals conduct their sport as if the armchair perspective is all that matters.

            Boring racing existed long before power meters and would continue if they were banned. The idea that power meters make races boring is entirely subjective and ridiculous – everyone says the Vuelta has been great to watch and yet ever rider in it is using….a power meter.

    • Organisers don’t make the rules about legal bike kit, the UCI does and the UCI is not going to ban them in a thousand years.

      If they did, why not ban other innovations?

      There is no evidence they make a squat of difference. Regardless, if they bring no value to the sport why does every single rider in the Vuelta use them?

  10. Appreciate the articles! It seems some riders didn’t appreciate the joking innuendo from the previous preview. Please up keep the efforts Inrng.

    The UCI point system for the World Tour spots “sporting” qualification seems to have been telegraphed with some warning. The surprise may be the reduction of 18 to 17 after 2016, as well as Bora’s step up. If I read Inrng’s piece (as well as the UCI press release) from June of this year correctly, at the end of 2017 there may be a potential further reduction to 16 teams down from 17, but it would be hard to do as they are also giving out 2 year licenses. If there are two year licenses for all teams, with a guaranteed third year of participation, this does make them more sought after.

    It probably means that after 2018 there will be a reduction of the WT to 16 teams, with a “sporting” assurance for 15 after 2019. This may also cause some managers to think about their team composition. If the new WT races count the same as the other monument and non-GT races – a reasonable expectation, scoring WT points will have managerial strategy and gamesmanships associated with it.

    For the WT Inrng brings up some interesting points. I believe Bora, would be taking a risk to ignore the World Tour License for 2017/2018. It seems Lampre, was quick to realize the importance of protecting their points, and re-signed their primary riders. It seems like one of the teams was asleep at the office, on the importance of points.
    At this point signing Henao, can close to ensure a team a WT team slot. Outside of that it seems some of the other unsigned Sky riders like Swift and Stannard and potentially Koenig might be highly sought after. The 4 additional WT races after the Vuelta, will matter some.

    • This story is now complicated by the fact that Bora will seemingly be at the Tour Down Under, a World Tour event, in January. Peter Sagan has been announced as riding there. But its not clear if Bora have been given a wildcard for the event or if they will be there by right as a World Tour team. Perhaps some curious journalistic type will find out for us.

    • Inrng said on Twitter the site went down due to a server issue (the scary suspended message isn’t unusual unfortunately)
      Please don’t encourage such speculation any further, we have enough as it is 🙂

      • What accusation? What joking innuendo? What scary suspended message? I’m out (riding) for just a couple of days and I miss more curious and exciting plot developments than in a season of “Emmerdale”!

        PS Did anything interesting take place during stages 12 and 13? Anything worth watching? Or shall I just wait for today’s queen stage to commence (and probably doze off on the sofa and wake up when Juan Antonio Flecha is giving his quick analysis of the stage or when the wife suggests I get up and take the dog for a walk, whichever comes first)?

        • Short version: Dries Devynyns took some offense to Inner Ring’s quip about him throwing races in the Stage 12 preview over Twitter, and Inner Ring apologised. But last night a webhost server error made go down and only display the misleading error ‘This Account Has Been Suspended’.
          Cyclinghubtv pointed out the timing was suspicious and a few people decided that Devynyns’ lawyers got the site taken down, even though tweeted a message to the contrary and the site was back up after about 2 hours.

          Shorter version: You missed absolutely nothing 😀 Can’t speak for the stages, haven’t been able to watch any. SBS starts coverage tonight and I’m looking forward to it.

          • Thank you! One man’s quip is another man’s innuendo is another man’s insinuation, especially when everyone reads the words giving them their own tone. I, for one, would have taken it as a joke or at worst a comment on (1) how Devenyns was probably unanimously considered the stronger of the two by the cognoscenti, but racing is racing, on (2) how buying and selling stage wins is a part of road cycling’s rich history and on (3) how readily cycling fans start giving their own interpretations on what *really* happened and why. But then again I have read the Inner Ring far longer than Devenyns has and I recognize and appreciate his style and biting sense of humour – and in any case it wasn’t my sense of pride at stake!

  11. If a pro rider cannot ride on “feel” he must be dead between the ears. The dashboard on a car tells you information but you still know when the engine is revving its nuts off. I reckon its more a slow news day thing this PM chat.

  12. The problem with power meters is not that they allow you to measure your effort, anyone who has ridden a bike for a while knows if they feel good or bad without the power meter telling them.

    The problem with them is it makes it much easier to judge someone else’s effort. If you don’t have one and someone attacks you have to weigh up how you feel, how you think they feel, what racing is left, whether their attack is sustainable etc. With a power meter you can just look down and instantly know if they have no hope of if you should lift the pace of chase them. Michael Rogers made the point very clearly when riding for Sky. They could just look down, see they were at 420W and not even bother lifting the pace as they knew the attack was hopeless. It removes a massive variable that the rider used to have to deal with themselves. Getting rid of them might not be a panacea, but it would be a start.

    Then we just need to get back to fixed gear bikes and no assistance… 🙂

  13. Quintana may not ride with a PM but he was frantically swiping his head unit screen looking for something. Heart rate? His virtual training partner Valverde to come and do his racing for him again?

    All his comments showed is that Froome and Sky have got in his head.

    • Precisely – and if you Google Valverde (another one who commented on power meters) you’ll notice a power meter in every shot that displays the handlebars.

      • Yes, sure…
        I just googled Valverde:
        (Quintana’s got his, Valverde looks like he hasn’t – also look at the cranks)

        Obviously no SRM in former years, even if in training you had Campagnolo-suited PM:

        There are several images where he’s clearly using SRM, and a good number of ambiguous ones (he’s often got on the handlebar a cyclocomputer which is different from the obvious SRM but I can’t be sure he has no PM).

        Yet, I can’t see the point in saying something like “every shot” when it’s visibly not so.

        Besides, you could ask for it to be banned and still be using it until it isn’t. It makes total sense to me.

      • ***Censored version of the post which is awaiting moderation because of the links to the photos)***

        Yes, sure…
        I just googled Valverde:
        [image with Quintana]
        (Quintana’s got his, Valverde looks like he hasn’t – also look at the cranks)

        Obviously no SRM in former years, even if in training you had Campagnolo-suited PM:
        [2009 image]

        There are several images where he’s clearly using SRM, and a good number of ambiguous ones (he’s often got on the handlebar a cyclocomputer which is different from the obvious SRM but I can’t be sure he has no PM).

        Yet, I can’t see the point in saying something like “every shot” when it’s visibly not so.

        Besides, you could ask for it to be banned and still be using it until it isn’t. It makes total sense to me.

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