Personally I find it a little bit disappointing that the whole debate is 
being distilled down to a mere wattage output figure. If wattage was all 
the Tour was attempting to measure, it would be a contest better fought 
in a spinning class.


Matthew Kulas wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM, Miguel
> Naughton<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I'd like to clarify that.  I think that the two PhD's *and* TEO are full
>> of tihs.  The greatest cycling/doping doctor is obviously gifted.
>> Taunting and payback aside, there are some gigantic holes in their
>> analysis, although it is interesting.  You can't ignore the fact that
>> Alpe d'Huez is longer and steeper and has more switchbacks.  Contador had
>> a significant tailwind.  That's a lot to be concerned about, no?
>> I believe that it's exceptionally difficult to compare performance on
>> completely different courses.
> Gigantic holes in their analysis?  What were you reading?
> Below are segments of the blog that specifically address your supposed
> "gigantic holes in their analysis."
> Steepness:
> "The point I have to make is that on a steeper climb, the same power
> output would produce an EVEN HIGHER VAM. Therefore, if you look at
> that graph above, Contador's record VAM would have been higher on any
> of the other slopes - Alpe d'Huez at 8.1%, Hautacam at 7.7% and Joux
> Plane at 8.5% would produce higher VAMS. For example, had Contador
> been on an 8.5% slope, producing the same power output, his VAM would
> increase to 1932m/hour."
> Wind:
> "It's been reported that there was quite a strong wind blowing up the
> valley on the climb. Alex very helpfully calculated what impact a wind
> would have on the required power output on the climb. It turns out
> that with NO WIND, the power output required on the climb is
> approximately 422W. A tail-wind speed of 3m/s (10km/hour) reduces the
> power output required to 387W, which is a pretty sizeable difference.
> Of course, the climb cannot have had a tailwind all the way up - it
> had hairpins and so there will have been headwinds and tailwinds.
> However, this is an average tailwind, and it seems reasonable. I tried
> to watch for signs of strong winds on the climb, but must confess it
> was not noticeable.
> "Also, in the graph above, there is no controlling for the wind.
> Perhaps LeBlanc had a mighty tail-wind on Hautacam in 1994? Perhaps
> Pantani faced a head-wind in 1997 and could even have been faster?
> It's impossible to factor that in, which is why it can be risky making
> judgements in isolation! That is why averages over longer time-periods
> provide more meaningful information than once off events. The average
> power output on climbs over the course of a Tour tells you more than
> single climbs (but more on that in other posts). However, it's safe to
> say that wind can have a substantial impact on climbing power
> calculated from ascent time."
> Climb length:
> "Many have been quick to point out that the climbing rate should be
> higher, given that Verbier is a shorter climb than most of those done
> at the end of Tours. This is certainly a factor, since most of the
> climbs in the above list are 35 minutes long (Hautacam) or even longer
> (Alpe d'Huez). Soler's climb in 2007 was short - 22 minutes, but the
> difference in length is certainly partly responsible. Therefore,
> Contador's record VAM is at least partly due to a shorter climb.
> "I say 'partly', because I don't believe that the effect of length is
> as great as many seem to believe. It's certainly a factor, I don't
> wish to dismiss it, but not as large as one might first thing. For
> example, when the Tour did the time-trial on Alpe d'Huez in 2004, the
> climbing times of all the main riders was only just marginally faster
> than when the same climb was done at the end of a 200km stage (all the
> other times in that list above). Similarly, long climbs like the
> Tourmalet and Mont Ventoux are climbed only a few percent slower than
> the shorter climbs, and so while length plays a role, and would
> account for some of Contador's record ascent rate, it's not as simple
> as saying 'shorter equals faster'."
> So my question is, Mig, did you stop reading at the graph?
> I'll leave you with their conclusion:
> "That's the short analysis of Contador's climb. It was spectacular,
> without a doubt - a record in the Tour, even factoring in wind and
> climb length. There are too many unanswered questions regarding wind,
> absolute power, gradients and distances, however, which is a pity."
> --Matt K.
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