Ventoux Velocity

The tiresome post race calculations on every stage are continuing again after Ventoux. This time the twitterers are less vocal than normal, as on first glances it appears that Froome’s winning time is a bit down on previous ‘Armstrong Era’ performances. Another factor is a tailwind, which Greg Henderson describes on his twitter account, @Greghenderson1

“Tailwind up the whole climb helped my watts per kilo guys so don’t go getting too impressed by my time up Ventoux.”

I’ve got yet another hunch on what’s going on, based on my own experiences with power training & coaching. We record abilities over different time frames to produce a ‘power profile’, the standard timeframes are 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes & FT (functional threshold, essentially one hour). All these are based on your average power over these timeframes, so for example Chris Hoy would produce a huge power average over 5 seconds, but very poor over FT. The numbers are watts per kilo, so it’s calculated by how much power you can produce, divided by your weight. So if an 80 kg rider can produce 300 Watts for an hour, his FT would be 3.75, you get the idea?

You can download these charts HERE.

The hunch I’ve got is that Sky have analysed the data from previous Tours & come to the conclusion that focussing on developing power over a specific time frame is going to win them the Tour. It looks like Froome performs extraordinarily (close to the bad old era) over that timeframe, approx 25 mins by the looks of it. But when it comes to longer efforts up to an hours duration, he doesn’t match ‘bad old era ‘ performances, he’s a couple of minutes down. Which doesn’t exactly suggest EPO use, which would increase his FT, so to me, his extraordinary performances are confined to shorter distances than today, although he was faster than his current compatriots. But to show what I mean, look at his advantage over a 20km+ climb today, compared to a roughly 8km climb.

Time gained on rivals:

Ax 3 Domaines (7.8 km @ 8.2 %)

  • Contador @ 1 m 45 s
  • Quintana @ 1 m 45 s
  • Rodriguez @ 2 m 6 s
  • Fuglsang @ 2 m 34 s
  • Mollema @ 1 m 10 s
  • Ten Dam @ 1 m 16 s
  • Kreuziger @ 1 m 45 s
  • Martin @ 2 m 34 s

Mont Ventoux (20.8 km @ 7.5 %)

  • Contador @ 1 m 40 s
  • Quintana @ 0 m 29 s
  • Rodriguez @ 1 m 23 s
  • Fuglsang @ 1 m 43 s
  • Mollema @ 1 m 46 s
  • Ten Dam @ 1 m 53 s
  • Kreuziger @ 1 m 40 s
  • Martin @2 m 36 s

So as you can see, the time gaps over the much longer climb are very similar, to me, it looks like Froome has developed an extraordinary CP25 (critical power over 25 mins). It’s likely impossible to improve the FT power any more, as it’s relying on the aerobic system so much, but as we reduce the critical power time, we start to see other systems come into play. Which my hunch tells me is where Sky’s sports scientists are focussing on, it’s where they have expertise, from the track.

Just an idea, but could explain what’s going on, plus it also correlates to the individual time trial where he outperformed, we’ll have to wait & see what the number crunchers come up with tonight.

Update 1:

@inrng has confimed this “fwiw I know he’s been doing repeated 25 min efforts in training during a col”

If you don’t already read his blog, it’s one of the best out there, it’s here.. THE INNER RING

10 Responses

  1. zbranko

    Laurens ten Dam posted his telemetry on Strava. Strong headwind from Chalet Reynard onwards.

    As for Froome being ‘a couple minutes down’, I suggest you re-time the climb. After initial mismeasurements, almost every source has now come to an agreement: 48:35 for the 15.65kms, so 2 seconds slower than Armstrong at his best

    Then again of course it’s minutes slower if you compare this 245km stage with several cols to the times of the 1999 and 2004 time trials that rode only the climb and nothing else

      1. zbranko

        Definitely. However, the thing is that Mayo’s time was in a time trial and Pantani in the days of unlimited EPO use.

        For reference, after the initial kms were extremely slow, Froome took off and was massively faster than the rest of the time over the rest of the climb

        He was half a minute faster than 2000 Pantani over the last 6 kms for example

    1. Matt

      Interesting that you say it was a strong headwind. Where did you get that info? Greg Henderson mentioned on twitter that it was a tailwind:

  2. Interesting and rational speculation. I don’t agree the analysis of times is tiresome, as it is all there is to go on. Indeed, your analysis relies on such detail. The remaining question is how such intense 25 minute efforts are really built, wholly by novel training/diet, or supplemented by banned substances or methods.

  3. niall

    “”We began a little project changing the way the women’s freestyle sprinters trained, stripping it back to first principles, and came up with the concept of reverse periodisation.” This inverts the traditional precept that intense work is brought into training on top of an endurance base; instead, intensity is included from the start and is seen as part of the foundation.”

    Tim Kerrison Apr 2013 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/apr/27/bradley-wiggins-giro-tim-kerrison)

    Not a great leap from this to the CP25 and it being a core part of their training?

  4. There wasn’t a tailwind the whole way. Only to Chalet Reynard. There after, the wind would have been from the side. The wind was 18 WSW around the time of the climb. I checked the data on windfinder.com on the day. With the road turning 90° after Chalet Reynard, it became, on average a side wind. With the road snaking it would have varied from head to side to tail to side, etc. The windfinder historical data requires $, but you can even see from the flags in the video that the wind was blowing over the ridge.

    Other riders have said that the mini-buses helped shield them from the wind at times.

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