and either way - is this what womens pro cyling needs or makes the sport a “better” place for young and upcoming females - I wonder
I mean if you go off World tour level bike retail sales you clearly reach peak physical race condition at 55 years old with a slight beer belly 80mm of stem spacers and your saddle too low.
And a GFNY bright green jersey adds 20Watts
I don’t really know either way, but is it much different to what she has been doing for quite a few years now?
And if Anna van der Breggen was still racing I would like to think the gaps would be smaller at least
True, it would at least be a battle if AvdB would still be around. But what really bothers me with AvV is that she showed no signs of world class talent in her 20s. Her first win was 2010 when she was 28. And now she is dominating. The only way she doesn’t win is by teams ganging up on her or because she is not the best bike handler.
Did she not only start racing at 26?
I don’t see anything weird about her cycling history. She was in grad school working on a Masters in epidemiology and raced the college championships in 2008. She also came to cycling after playing soccer/football. Like many of the female athletes, she came to cycling late, but had previous athletic career.
I don’t see anything that looks fishy or particularly different from the rest of the woman’s peloton. I also suspect that there is a ton of untapped potential in the woman’s peloton and that we will see a bunch of riders really improve their performance over the next year or two because of the increased interest in woman’s cycling. There are so many stories like Veronica Evers, who started cycling a couple years ago on a lark and is improving very rapidly.
In general I think AvV is light, powerful and has excellent recovery, just like Pogacar and the rest of the top men. The fact that she isn’t a spring chicken like the new crop of GC riders doesn’t matter, to me at least.
Her dominance is specific though and she’s not a Cannibal. Needs the right type of course that she’s particularly built her training for. Nobody can come close to her on her kind of course. But she can’t beat Vos, Wiebes, Balsamo, Kopecky, Norsgard on their kind of courses. Or pure strength riders like Dygert or Van Dijk on their kind of courses.
Regarding not showing anything when she was younger… she started racing late and she was chubby for a bike racer for a long time. The results started coming as she ramped up her training volume and then went on the whole massive mileage thing.
Less riders, smaller depth of the field, better chance for an athlete to stand out and stay longer at the pointy end of the elite.
I didn’t know that she started racing so late. That obviously changes things. But her 100km solos and the huge amount of time she puts into her opponents is a bit much I think to no at least ask some questions.
Excellent recovery. You mean like a 23 year old Pogacar, not a 40 year old Valverde, right?
“I don’t see anything weird about her cycling history”
Then you are wilfully ignorant. After 9 years of averaging around 600 PCS points and ranking outside the top ten she suddenly transformed at the age of 34 into the number one rider in the World. Late career transformations are always suspect.
Isn’t the world of ultra endurance full of very successful “older” women athletes?
Does the entire women’s peloton train like AVV?
Is women’s cycling so popular that it can sustain a full peloton of the absolute best athletes?
It’s a tricky one. Late career success is unusual, but as noted, AvV was a late starter.
1 very hard data point is AvV’s training mileage; it is huge, well in excess of most female pros, and has been that way for some years. There is a well documented history in endurance sports of athletes who are able to tolerate unusual volume subsequently excelling. I believe Sean Kelly talked about his brothers having more natural talent than him, but becoming ill or injured when they tried to put in the miles needed to reach the next level. I’m adding anecdote to evidence (and of course there are ways to enhance volume tolerance…) but it is a pointer.
A further data point (and I’m hesitant about posting this) is that based on publicly available numbers (which admittedly is a limited pool of evidence) there are very few female riders with a declared FTP >300 watts. A w/kg of >5 is likewise rare; 4.5-5 seems typical, and some of the sprintier riders aren’t much over 4. For comparison, 5.5 would be the minimum for anyone other than the most elite of sprinters or the biggest of rouleurs to do well at world tour level for the men, and the last TdF had multiple domestiques clocking figures of >6w/kg for >20 minutes deep into a stage and deep into a race.
Please do note the caveats in all of the above, but in short, there simply seems less competition.
Indeed, the level of disparity in male/female physical ability seems greater in cycling than in other endurance sports. We know from quite extensive research and evidence that all the data has women 10-12% below the best male performance fairly consistently across endurance sports. A quick snapshot of pro cycling seems to suggest a typical difference of 15-20%. This is most probably because women’s cycling has been underfunded, and because of gatekeeping; bluntly, most elite female athletes have gone or been pushed elsewhere. So when an exceptional one (AvV) doesn’t get diverted, she doesn’t face the same level of competition.
Finally, I’ve written a lot of times on this forum that I’m highly sceptical of the idea that elite sport is anything resembling largely clean, but this thread title seems to encourage the inference that AvV is doing something no-one else is, which is logically pretty unlikely. That’s not to be taken as any suggestion she is doing anything not permitted, simply that if she (hypothetically) were, common sense suggests others would be as well.
I think female athletes age differently than men. Maybe because they’re not so reliant on this huge testosterone boost at puberty? It just seems like there are a lot of outstanding older female athletes.
You cannot think of this like in men’s cycling. Not the least because women’s top level pro racing is primarily based on big one day races. There is no equivalent to the three grand tours and many week long stage races the men have. So the top women train for the races they got - except AvV who trains as if she’s going to do all three 3-week long tours in the same year.
Does she dominate everything? No. A Vos type or Wiebes type race AvV isn’t even going to figure in. If she was on some sort of massive performance enhancing drug plan that makes her so much stronger than everyone else don’t you think she’d be competitive in any of the women’s races?
I believe there is an interview where she talks about being on strong teams with strong riders and only began riding for herself later in her career when she moved away from these teams.
I could see that being a contributing factor.
If you look around, there’s been several female marathon runners who became world class in their late 30’s.
there have been 2 Australian winners of the Commonwealth Games women’s marathon aged 38 (Heather Turland) and 39 (Kerryn McCann) so to me there’s a pointer towards exceptional female athletes over 35.
For both men and women endurance athletes their primes are often mid 30’s. So starting later and building a strong base for many years seems pretty typical.
Look at all the local dudes who are older and still crush because they have that strong foundation.
Look at the older pros who still crush even more. Ned Overend