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Thread: Power Data

  1. #1
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    Power Data

    People keep saying power data power data. could someone please explain how a certain power output is indicative of drug cheating? Thanks.
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    It's not so much the actual power output it's self ... though it can be damning evidence if somebody is holding 500 watts for an hour ... it's more the W/KG.

    The theoretical limit of non enhanced human performance is around 6 w/kg for an hour (give or take .2 w/kg) ... When you start to see performances of 6.5 w/kg at the end of a 130k stage two weeks into a stage race it raises a lot of questions. Armstrong was said to be putting out around 7 w/kg. Indurain was said to have put out over 500 watts for an hour during his prime but I haven't seen a w/kg listing for him.

    By releasing actual power data by all the pro's it would give a better idea of what power they are actually putting out and could lead to better identification of those that are doping.

    Currently, power data from pro's is limited to domestiques so we never see what the top guys are doing. Some extrapolation can be made, but that's pretty limited data. They can also take climb rates and weight to get an idea of power output but then you have to take in wind, temperature, drafting, etc.

    With that said ... it's unlikely we will ever see power data from the top pros released for a couple reasons:

    1. Other riders can see their power output and training and get an idea of where they are weak or strong changing race tactics
    2. It could lead to closer investigation of each rider for PED use
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  3. #3
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    How do people know the theoretical limit is 6 w/kg?

    Also, do any of you think nutrition has played a role in improved performance? For example, back in the 80s racers used to eat sandwiches as race food, and cake for recovery...
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    Not to mention that the equipment is improving.

    One argument I made in another thread is that given the lengths athletes have gone to in order to mask doping, such as microdosing EPO to artificially boost reticulocyte count after transfusions, why wouldn't a savvy cheat just calibrate his SMR to give a lower reading?

    Or lie about his weight?

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    Quote Originally Posted by foto View Post
    How do people know the theoretical limit is 6 w/kg?

    Also, do any of you think nutrition has played a role in improved performance? For example, back in the 80s racers used to eat sandwiches as race food, and cake for recovery...
    I believe it's based off of VO2 max levels and their limits.

    People have come up with all kinds of reason why cyclists are faster today than in past days ... better nutrition, better equipment, better training, etc. However, when you look at the speeds they are riding now, they are not much different than during the 90's/00's which was the "Theoretical height" of the EPO era.

    You are also making the assumption that diet and nutrition is that much better ... Chris Horner is well known for eating Snickers as recovery food.

    As for the bikes and equipment ... they don't ride bikes as light as people think. The UCI limits the weight to 15 pounds, so they are not riding "Uber" light bikes. Anybody with money can purchase or build a much lighter bike than the Pro's ride. This is one of the reasons there is a big push for aero equipment and clothing ... to gain any marginal advantage they can compared to other riders. The bikes of "Old" were still in the 19 - 20 pound range, so not a huge difference there. Mostly it's a difference in ergonomics with STI shifting, better braking, etc.

    The reality is the only way to track doping is through power numbers because the athletes will always be ahead of the testing. At least with power numbers we can keep the riders in check when it comes to PED use.
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    Is the minimum weight actually enforced?

    Pro Joe Dombrowski thinks things have changed a lot and gotten a lot slower:

    RoadBikeReview: You got your start in the sport because of Lance Armstrong and his Trek-Livestrong team. How do you reconcile that with all thatís happened with him since then?
    Joe Dombrowski:
    What he created in a team was the opportunity that got me where I am now. Also I know him personally a little so I almost donít attach the person I know to his public person. Itís a tough situation. As we know, being a nice guy doesnít have anything to do with being a cheater. Lots of super nice guys have cheated the whole way. The whole thing was disappointing. I mean, I always knew it was prevalent, but I didnít know it was that prevalent. Everything was fake. And it went on for a long time. I mean you read about Michael Rasmussen doing things up to 2010. So how far in past is the past? Itís tough, but I do think things have changed a lot.

    RoadBikeReview: You really believe that things have changed?
    Joe Dombrowski: I do. I mean, I find data very interesting and I know that things have gotten a lot slower. You can look at VAM and watts per kilo numbers and they have gone down. Yet bikes are lighter, training is better, nutrition is better. So you would think that equates to things being faster, but they arenít. The only thing you can attribute that to is a cleaner peloton. It used to be that window for cheating was very broad, but I think itís slowly clamping down. There are always new things coming out and people will innovate on both sides of the battle, but I think that itís been minimized so that the advantage of doping is a lot more minimal than it used to be. Itís not the same.





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    And according to the article, at 385FTP and 140lbs, he's above 6wt/kg!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Local Hero View Post
    Not to mention that the equipment is improving.

    One argument I made in another thread is that given the lengths athletes have gone to in order to mask doping, such as microdosing EPO to artificially boost reticulocyte count after transfusions, why wouldn't a savvy cheat just calibrate his SMR to give a lower reading?

    Or lie about his weight?
    I agree that it would only be another "obstacle" at best. Sooner or later they would figure out a scheme for manipulating the data. What about software in head units which would keep two sets of records -actual and 10%reduced. All you would have to do is submit the reduced file showing "proof"you were doing the legal limit.
    Last edited by Carverbiker; 03-28-2013 at 03:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Local Hero View Post
    Is the minimum weight actually enforced?

    And according to the article, at 385FTP and 140lbs, he's above 6wt/kg!
    When it comes to equipment at the Pro levels ... all rules are "Strictly" enforced ... heck, last year they were even enforcing the flat TT saddles (i.e. no tilt at all in the saddle). So, yea ... they enforce the weights of the bikes. Many pros use aluminum stems, bars because they are both heavier and stiffer ... and those with bikes below the weight limit end up putting lead weight in their seat posts to bring them up to the minimum levels.

    As far as Joe Dombrowski goes ... It's great he thinks things are slower, but he's only been in the top levels for two years now, so he doesn't have a lot to go on. All it takes is looking at the actual numbers on climbs, TT's, etc. and you can see that ... yes, they are a little slower ... but not slow enough to take doping out of the equation.

    The biggest difference is the riders can't go crazy with their doping and have to be more subtle about it than in the past. It's still all about recovery and build cycles ... the build is important for the one day races and the build/recovery for the stage races. They micro dose EPO now instead of using larger doses, use lower levels of HGH and have developed new drugs that might be slightly less effective, but are undetectable.

    So the results are a "Little" slower ... but again, not enough to rule out a clean peloton. With that said, I think Cycling is much better than other sports when it comes to "Overall" PED use and light years ahead when it comes to testing and actually doing something about it.
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    If the weight limits are enforced why don't riders use deeper wheels on climbing stages?

  10. #10
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    I doubt very seriously that Dombrowski can output 6w/kg for 60 minutes. Although he is on team Sky! hmmmmmmmmm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Local Hero View Post
    Or lie about his weight?
    As it stands, they are never entirely honest with their listed height/weights ... much like the NFL/College Football inflates the size of their players ... Cyclists deflate their size.

    As has been mentioned also ... it wouldn't be hard to re-program computers to show lower numbers, so if they went that route, they would have to regulate the use of the computers use use their tracking transmitters to relay data directly from their power measuring device to a follow vehicle so they could bypass the riders actual computer ... this isn't hard to do since they already relay "Live" data from certain riders during races like the TDF through SRM power meters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Local Hero View Post
    If the weight limits are enforced why don't riders use deeper wheels on climbing stages?
    Because that's rotating weight that has to be accelerated over and over on a climb ... they actually want the lightest wheels possible and heavier weight in static areas.

    On 7%+ grades the aero isn't as important ... though at the speeds they climb, they still need aero advantages on the climbs.

    Then there is the fact that deeper rims can be a bit twitchy in crosswinds ... and they feel the effects at higher speeds on long descents, where it can be windy. Also, many like aluminum rims in the mountains for their better/more consistent braking. The aluminum rim/carbon fairing wheels are too heavy for them to ride in the mountains ... so they go with lower depth rims or aluminum rims (if possible).
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    Re: Power Data

    Quote Originally Posted by foto View Post
    People keep saying power data power data. could someone please explain how a certain power output is indicative of drug cheating? Thanks.
    Wookiebiker gave a pretty good description of the stuff. That said A LOT of what we see supporting claims that the sport is cleaner are estimated watts. Hell all of the stuff you see supporting claims Lemond and his ilk did not dope is estimated.

    Imo using watts is not a good method. In every science, even exercise science we find new limits through new training, mechanical technology etc. The only way to really tell is fine analysis of blood data. The problem is to get this requires money and lots of it. When you see people whose hemocrit barely budges under the stress of racing without recovery, suppression of the natural production of certain substances in surprise out of competition tests etc., it doesn't matter if you are using some undetectable substance. These are blatantly unnatural things that deserve at a minimum the old school suspended from competition for X number of days at best a full on ADA hearing.

    Oh wookie, regarding the whole "riders are slower" I agree that is not really there. What I think shows that doping is at least being done for far more marginal gains, to dodge the vampires, is the twitchyness. I remember when riders seemed simply calmer. They knew/felt that "okay I lose a little time today, I take that shot or IV tomorrow and I can still go 100% and I can get it back." Now riders seem definitely more twitchy, I think because they do not have the confidence the magic potion will help them get that time back. This wasn't as obvious in the 2012 TdF but I think it was definitely part of the Land Scape in 2011.
    Last edited by badge118; 04-02-2013 at 02:47 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by foto View Post
    How do people know the theoretical limit is 6 w/kg?

    Also, do any of you think nutrition has played a role in improved performance? For example, back in the 80s racers used to eat sandwiches as race food, and cake for recovery...

    Lots of science and observation. Humans can't run 45 mph, they can't fly, they can't swim 10mph and they can't ride a bike pushing insane wattage numbers for very long. These are the limitations of our human bodies. Over the past 150 years the human physiology has not changed and yet all these records are being broken. What has changed? PED's and their availability.

    People have already broken it down for you.. But anywhere over 6 w/kg becomes suspect because this is the limitation of the human body.

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    Re: Power Data

    Quote Originally Posted by MaddSkillz View Post
    Lots of science and observation. Humans can't run 45 mph, they can't fly, they can't swim 10mph and they can't ride a bike pushing insane wattage numbers for very long. These are the limitations of our human bodies. Over the past 150 years the human physiology has not changed and yet all these records are being broken. What has changed? PED's and their availability.

    People have already broken it down for you.. But anywhere over 6 w/kg becomes suspect because this is the limitation of the human body.
    You fail to bring in technology not related to PEDS and more scientific training methods. Actual wattage, speed etc will increase, within limits of course. Also as time moves on the gains will be more and more marginal. Every generation says "we have reached the limit" whether it be the 1920s, 30's and so on. You can look and see this simply in the hunt to break the 4 minute barrier in the mile run. That was once honestly seen as similar to breaking the speed of light.

    As I said there are limits, that said who says we have hit the absolute limit now any more than we thought back then.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wookiebiker View Post
    The biggest difference is the riders can't go crazy with their doping and have to be more subtle about it than in the past. It's still all about recovery and build cycles ... the build is important for the one day races and the build/recovery for the stage races. They micro dose EPO now instead of using larger doses, use lower levels of HGH and have developed new drugs that might be slightly less effective, but are undetectable.
    Thankfully that means the peloton is slow enough that you can have a useful (if not world conquering) career clean. By all accounts a sprinter can win with w/kg around 5.0 and a domestique can be useful at 5.5, both realistic numbers. Yeah there will always be someone who dopes to the gills to avoid a career as a garbage man, but no longer does an entire generation need to dope just to stay racing in Europe. Hopefully a tighter net eventually catches the Ricco's who flagrantly break the rules and the teams no longer encourage riders to take everything under the sun. Hopefully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaddSkillz View Post
    People have already broken it down for you.. But anywhere over 6 w/kg becomes suspect because this is the limitation of the human body.
    No, it's not.

    A few points:

    1. Pros and those at elite level are already under the gaze of those interested in doping control, so adding power data is not going to make any difference to who is or should be watched

    2. If however point #1 was ignored, then no doubt there would just be another way to game the system, and "data doping" would commence. As with real doping, some will be easier to detect than others (and believe me, I've already seen power meter data doping in action before to falsely claim a product provides a performance benefit).

    3. as for an arbitrary limit of 6W/kg or whatever number one might choose, that would be foolish, considering the underlying physiological parameters that most matter, i.e. VO2max, % of VO2max sustainable at threshold, and gross mechanical efficiency, all have well established ranges for non-doped athletes that suggest a non-doped combination well beyond 6W/kg is physiologically possible.

    4. the best threshold power measured for as far as we can tell a non-doped athlete was 6.4W/kg, so on the basis of those that think 6 or 6.2 is some kind of hard limit for non-doping plausibility, then they are in effect accusing this rider of being a doper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_Simmons/RST View Post
    4. the best threshold power measured for as far as we can tell a non-doped athlete was 6.4W/kg
    Mind if I ask who/when this was?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cableguy View Post
    Mind if I ask who/when this was?
    Not at all, but it's not my data to reveal.
    A British rider if that helps. Not a current athlete.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cableguy View Post
    Mind if I ask who/when this was?
    Boardman was estimated at 6.4. Whether out not he was clean or this is who Alex was talking about...

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    Don't discount nutrition and improvements in training methodology. Remember there used to be a "wall" for marathon runners and other endurance athletes, before they learned that with proper nutrition that was surmountable. Improvements have come and who knows what will come in the decades ahead.

    Quote Originally Posted by MaddSkillz View Post
    Lots of science and observation. Humans can't run 45 mph, they can't fly, they can't swim 10mph and they can't ride a bike pushing insane wattage numbers for very long. These are the limitations of our human bodies. Over the past 150 years the human physiology has not changed and yet all these records are being broken. What has changed? PED's and their availability.

    People have already broken it down for you.. But anywhere over 6 w/kg becomes suspect because this is the limitation of the human body.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOky View Post
    Don't discount nutrition and improvements in training methodology. Remember there used to be a "wall" for marathon runners and other endurance athletes, before they learned that with proper nutrition that was surmountable. Improvements have come and who knows what will come in the decades ahead.
    Are marathon runners inherently clean?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Local Hero View Post
    Or lie about his weight?
    Pros are angels. They would never lie.

    The laws of diminishing returns can discount the "improving equipment technology" claims, despite what all the manufacturers want us to think (might they be wanting us to BUY MORE NOW??). Modern bikes are so efficient, there just isn't much improvement left; if you're close to 100%, you ain't gonna see major gains. A few seconds? Sure. A mile per hour, or more? There must be some jet fuel involved.

    If we go back to prehistoric times (before EPO), among the highest VO max recorded was Lemond. In the course of one year, he went from TDF winner, to not being able to keep up with the PELOTON in the mountains, at times. The average speeds (yes, I know there are all kinds of variables to consider, but for simplicity's sakes. . . ) of the Pro peloton rose rapidly in the 90's. We haven't seen an expected drop. . . .yet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOky View Post
    Don't discount nutrition and improvements in training methodology. Remember there used to be a "wall" for marathon runners and other endurance athletes, before they learned that with proper nutrition that was surmountable. Improvements have come and who knows what will come in the decades ahead.
    Isn't this what we said about a certain US Postal team a few years back?

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    Re: Power Data

    Quote Originally Posted by spade2you View Post
    Isn't this what we said about a certain US Postal team a few years back?
    But currently the estimated watts of Sky are actually in the realm of "normal" human, least last time I checked. This I think is showing the double standard actually. People used the estimated watts of Armstrong et al to show they doped and that Wiggo et al were not pre-Reasoned decision. Now that we have the reasoned decision has come out people forget that and focus on everything BUT the estimated Watts.

    Its almost as if people just WANT Wiggo et al to be dirty. I get it. They won with logic, not panache not stunning attacks. As Nabali put it in an interview "maybe they should do away with power meters and not radios if they want to make racing more exciting" (paraphrase). Thing is this is cycling today.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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