Monday, April 5, 2010

Cycling - What does being Godlike look like?

I remember after the "Twitter Time Trial" in Hawaii that Lance put on, there was a shot of his SRM computer showing his average speed, which was impressive at over 35mph (though he had a tailwind). But, he demured when it came to show his power output--booo!

Thankfully, Fabian Cancellara is not as bashful. After winning the Ronde van Flanderen yesterday, he kindly shared his ride data with Markus Neuert (@CycleFilm), who kindly shared it with the world.

So, for 259km over about 6:26 of racing.......
Max.Speed:80km/h - Max.Cad:147 - Max.HR:190 - Max.Power:1450W - Tot.Calories: 6459
Avg.Speed:40km/h - Avg.Cad:73 - Avg.HR:143 - Avg.Power:285W

That is why they call the man "Spartacus". 285W average is mind boggling when you consider all the easy riding in the early part of the race, and the coasting downhill. The average cadence of 73 indicates a fair amount of coasting. An average speed of 25mph for over 160 miles. According to Boonen, at the end he was doing over 30mph and still losing ground to Cancellara. I can maintain that kind of speed for about 300m, they did it for over 10km, with 250km already in their legs. 6459 kilojoules of work

The best sprinters can uncork up to 1600 watts for a short burst at the end. Spartacus hit 1450 watts in dropping Tom Boonen up the Muur, and probably held that level for around 30 seconds. Apparently he did not even mean to attack, he just decided to go a bit harder. "Ooops, I am sorry, did I just crush your dreams with my little acceleration." Boonen is a legitimate Hero in the cobbled classics, and Spartacus outclassed him on the Muur (Boonen cramped up, which did not help). Skip to about 2 mins into this video.

This is why I love the Classics--there are no accidental winners. No lucky breakaway that gives a domestique a chance to grab glory (well, almost never). The Classics are won by the most fearsome of the peloton's elite. Everyone knew Spartacus' gameplan. Only Boonen could answer to the first attack on the Paterberg, and on the Muur it became an anaerobic victory lap.

It is appropriate that there is a chapel on top of the Muur (or Kapelmuur, as it is also known), because it is one of the cathedrals of cycling. Heros are anointed here by the rabid crowd and steep cobbles. I could go on about cycling's cathedral's, but I think I will make that another post.

On a side note, Lance did pretty well to get 27th place. He was always up amongst the leaders, which I was glad to see after his lackluster performances earlier this season.

Bravo, Spartacus! I look forward to Paris-Roubaix this weekend.


  1. Cancellara can crush it at will. Some good friends of mine were on the Muur literally at the definitive moment watching as Fabian pulled away. Check out their photos here...

  2. I'm not sure you can imply from the posted power levels that they were done at certain points of the race or for how long.

    285w for the race is probably similar to what a lot of other riders did, ~3.5w/kg

    1450w on the Muur - Possibly, but it may have been a 2 second acceleration out of a corner.

    1450w for 30 seconds - Unlikely based upon what track sprinters do for 30 seconds.

    All I'm saying is it's easy to make assumptions.

  3. How could he have power data for the whole race if he switched bikes mid-race?

  4. Dave--

    He switched twice. His front brake came loose on his primary bike, so he changed to the backup, but he changed back later on. So, it is not the entire race, but does capture most of it, and all the key points.

  5. Anonymous--

    You are correct, he may have only touched 1450w for a second or two. I am pretty sure it was on the Bosberg or the Muur, as those were the two significant attacks. Hard to think where else it might have been--that is serious wattage. His Muur attack was pretty consistent for at least the 10 seconds that the cameras could see him.

    Interestingly, in a post-race interview he says that although most riders stand to sprint, he often sprints in the saddle. Probably has to do with his power profile--I would guess that his peak power is lower than Boonen and some others, but for efforts of 30 seconds or more, he has more power.

    He is 6'1" and 180lbs. That is a lot of weight for a cyclist, which tempers the wattage numbers a bit (well, not for me, because that is what I weigh). On a flat road, he has an advantage, with more power for about the same frontal area. It is impressive that he could attack so effectively on the short climbs. Of course, he is not a mountain goat, but I don't know of anyone else at that size who climbs as well as he does.

    And, to your last is easy to make assumptions....the more outlandish, the better, in terms of getting people to read and comment.
    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Anonymous is okay, but it is easier for me to respond if you at least make up a name.