Here’s a good article we found about how cyclists measure power and the difference between the elite and the rest of us.
AUTHOR: RON OF COZY BEEHIVE
SOURCE: COZY BEEHIVE
Energy Output of Various Cyclists
|5 s||1 min||5 min||20 min|
|World Champion/World Record Holder||23.5||11.5||7.6||6.62|
|UCI Div. I/II Pro||20.78||10.3||6.52||5.67|
|UCI Div. III pro||19.42||9.7||5.97||5.19|
|Note: Values are displayed in watts/kg. The weight should be the weight of the body only. Bicycle, kit, water bottles, etc… are all excluded|
This table is from a page in the book Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coogan, 2005. This is an absolute monumental work, if you will, in the field of competitive cycling and one of the best texts I have read on the subject of power meter data analyzing. I don’t have a PT or an SRM but I adapt the solid principles in the book when training indoors on the Kurt Kinetic Trainer +Power PC system.
The reason I put this up here is for reference purposes and also after watching Fabian sweep the Tour of California prologue yesterday with some serious power.
Efficiency and VO2 max aside, Power to weight ratio (Power in watts divided by body weight in kilos) probably overwhelms all other factors in top level bicycle races. No matter what equipment you ride with, or who your coach is, if your human component cannot produce the numbers shown in the table above, you have no hope competing as you progress towards the top of the game. Better go do something else for a living. Seriously..
Long repeated bouts of training might do it get you there, but now I almost want to believe, even though I don’t want to, that the genetic factors overwhelm any training efforts. This also reflects well on a post by AKI a.k.a ‘Sprinter Della Casa’ on the same topic, where he is somewhat on the same line with me.
Anyway, lets provide an example of top level performance :
CSC’s Fabian Cancellara, world TT champ, won yesterday’s Tour of California Prologue TT at an average speed of 35mph, with an even astonishing 3 minutes and 51 seconds, thats a 4 second lead over the second man in – Team High Road’s Bradley Wiggins, who is also a 2 or 3 time Olympic medal holder back in 2004 in the short pursuit discipline.
Fabian is 80 kilograms and one can very well take his average Power to weight ratio to be 7.6 in the 5 min category (referenced from table above, and I still believe thats a little on the low end).
You do the math, Fabian was nearly producing 608 Watts and above for almost 4 minutes (again, that figure is possibly a little low for Fabian but you get the big picture?).
Thats the power an average novice rider can produce for 10-12 seconds at most, if he’s in his best moods.
The book, Bicycling Science by Gordon Wilson, established a somewhat direct relationship between power to weight ratio (in watts per kg) with measured oxygen uptake (in ml/min/kg) in 5 trained cyclists flying the human powered aircraft Daedalus. A higher sustained power to weight ratio naturally elicits a higher breathing capacity.