Can Sprinters Time Trial?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by colavitabolla, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. colavitabolla

    colavitabolla New Member

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    I've been reading alot about the different muscle fibers and how they affect climbing and sprinting. Now, slow twitch fibers are much more lean and less in actual size than fast twitch which are much bulkier. The slow twitch fibers are leaner and in turn lead to a lighter person who will be better at climbing. I also read that people with fast twitch muscle fibers are more of a spinner than a grinder. The question is: Can Sprinters or people with more fast twitch muscle fibers time trial well? In a time trial weight is not a big variable once you get up to speed and if the spinters spin more and generate more power that way what is stopping them from being good time trialists?
     
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  2. JDM

    JDM New Member

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    This seems like an interesting question and I hope that someone can explain it. In my opinion, time-trialing seems to be more of a mental thing - preparation, concentration, attention to technique. Generally speaking, those that do well in time trials, in the grand tours, are usually the same ones who are shooting for high place in the gc. Consequently, sprinters usually aren't interested in gc, so they go for the daily glory - stage wins, cash prizes, sprinters jerseys, etc. However, I have a suspicion that if Super Mario had wanted to be a time trial specialist, he could have done exceptionally well - he has the strength, the speed, and god only knows the kind of wattage he can produce. In the end I think it comes down to personal choice rather than ability - sprinters don't usually care about doing well in time trials,..... those that wish to be on the podium do.
     
  3. Nicko71

    Nicko71 New Member

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    What about Brad Mcgee's time trial win in prologue of tour d france. Can he sprint? probably not as fast as the green jersey guys...but he must be close in order to do those big leadouts he did for Baden Cooke.

    I agree that the big sprinters could TT well if that was their goal.

    Less likely that a TT specialist could beat a sprinter. TOP END speed!!
     
  4. colavitabolla

    colavitabolla New Member

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    Brad McGee was the world pursuit champion on the track so that basically says that he is a real time trialist. I was wondering because i see that some sprinters usually do get some good results in time trials, i think i saw that robbie mcewen got 17th in a TdF TT, so he obviously has it there to time trial. I wonder why they just choose not to go for the win.
     
  5. Jonny

    Jonny New Member

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    At a professional elite level there is a difference in TT and sprinters .ie Road riders. If it were at a club level these so called sprinters would still timetrial the pants off any club racer. Most road sprinters were considered Time trialers on the track. Baden Cooke did his time in the aussie pursuit team.
    A good time trialer will generally have a higher VO2max, less fast twitch muscle, less weight, and better frontal surface area to aerobic power ratio than a sprinter.
    It also has a lot to do with training as well. A good time trialer that trains to grind the pedals for efficiency eg Jan Ullrich would find it difficult to sustain the legspeed for sprinting.

    Jonny
     
  6. Roy Gardiner

    Roy Gardiner New Member

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    But wasn't he known as a sprinter in his youth?

    Miguel Poblet (rival to Van Steenbergen) once won a Vuelta TT.

    Didn't Rudi Altig win TdF TTs?
     
  7. maarten

    maarten New Member

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    This will largely depend on what you call a sprinter, how close to world class.

    And what you mean by time trial short 3-7k prologue or the real thing over around 40k?
     
  8. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    Physiologicaly, RR sprinters aren't realy sprinters they are endurance athletes that can sprint. To appreciate this, compare supermario (or any other pro sprinter) to track sprinters (e.g. matched sprint opr kilo) and you will appreciate that they are vastly different creatures.

    Actualy the populations of muscle fibres that you have does not do much to determine your ability to ride endurance or sprint. Someone with a low percentage of fast twitch fibers can have the same cross sectional area of fast twitch muscle fibers as someone with a high percentage of fast twitch fibers. The cross sectional area of the muscle fibre populations being important in force production. Sprinters 'TEND' to have more fast and endurance riders TEND to have more slow twitch muscles.

    The limiting factors in time trial performance are 1. VO2 max and 2. lactate threhold (ignoring 3. economy and 4. oxygen uptake kinetics as they are hard to change). Maximising the VO2 max and LT allows a rider to sustain a high power output for a long time (these riders tend not to be able to sprint). While sprinters train their anaerobic capacities so are able to produce VERY high power outputs for very short periods; they have 'lower' VO2 max and LT values so cannot sustain a high power output for very long. Climbers tend to be like time trialers, but due to low body masses have high power to weight values, but low absolute power values.

    In very short TT's (e.g. a prologue) VO2 max is important and as the duration of the race increases LT becomes more important. While TT's will be riden between VO2 max and LT power output depending upon race length; both the power output at VO2 max and LT are closely correlated to performance in TT's.

    Strength is defined as the amount of force that can be produced during a single muscle contraction and is not considered important factor in endurance performance. This is demonstrated by TTer's less than muscular legs (cross section of muscle important to strength and force production potential).

    You suggest that the ability to 'spin more and generate more power' would help sprinters be good at TT's, but you neglect the fact that except for races in which sprint tactics are important (i.e. bunch sprint) VO2 max and LT (or rather the power at these) are the most important variables. Ability to spin is a product of skill/neuromuscular skill and to produce high powers (like a sprinter) a product of strength and anaerobic capacity.

    All in all... RR sprinters are not 'real' sprinters, rather endurance riders that can sprint. While TT riders are endurance riders that can ride reletivly hard for long periods (i.e. they poses true endurance).
     
  9. colavitabolla

    colavitabolla New Member

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    Ok I see what you mean. But if a sprinter were to bring their VO2 max up and Lactate Threshold to maybe want to time trial a little better, would this bring down their anaerobic capacities and in the end hurt their sprint? I know that there have been a couple of sprinters who turned into good all arounders, like Laurent Jalabert. But even after Jalabert went to an all rounder by bringing up his VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold would he still be able to produce a sprint strong enough to rival the Road Race sprinters?
     
  10. shaneo

    shaneo New Member

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    I think the maturity of the cyclist can have abit to do with it

    Look at Johann MUSEEUW.....he was a very good field sprinter in his early years....and now does the hard man grind to win races like Paris- Roubaix.....obviously his strength endurance has increased over his pro career and he has worked this strength to his advantage......his sprint has diminished as he has got older and worked more on his massive ability to turn a big gear through the mud for 200 plus kilometres.....

    He is one rider who impresses the hell out of me!!!!
     
  11. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    Yes a sprinter would be able to bring up their LT and VO2 max, and yes this would probably 'damage' their ability to sprint due to the different types of training needed, changes in body composition and specific changes in the muscles, etc. that are required. Similarly a Time Trial specialist could train to sprint better, but this may slow their TT slightly.

    Riders like Jalabert, when they come back seem to loose 'a lot' of their sprint ability and become good allrounders (neither the best at hills, TTs or sprints) making them very successful. One reason why sprinters may retain the abilty to sprint well is that they understand the tactics, positioning, etc. despite a loss in anaerobic capacity, neuromuscular 'skill', strength, etc.
     
  12. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    Not sure what 'strength endurance' is, but yes its likely that his VO2 max and LT has improved (hence higher sustained power outputs for long periods of time).
     
  13. shaneo

    shaneo New Member

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    sorry....that should have been strength/endurance.....or in other words he has a very high HL ratio (scientific term: hard legs)

    p.s. sorry, I prefer the road jargon....
     
  14. jrlee

    jrlee New Member

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    the one thing I would question is the way these road sprinters "found" the ability to become better endurance animals
    is this change in ability trained or maunfactured?
     
  15. colavitabolla

    colavitabolla New Member

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    Anyone can be trained into being able to sustain an aerobic pace for a long time. This is what makes the track sprinters so much different from the Road Race sprinters. Track sprinters generally are much more bulkier than even the road race sprinters who are pretty bulky already. Like people have said before if they were testing a track sprinter and a road race sprinter they would probably say that the road race sprinter is more of an endurance athlete compared to the track sprinter. This is not to say that track sprinters dont have aerobic capacity for endurance though.
     
  16. Roy Gardiner

    Roy Gardiner New Member

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    Even Cipollini, bulky by cycling standards, is a stick-man by normal measurements 187cm and 75kg if I remember. It's just that pro cyclists are so skinny! Van Steenbergen is the only road sprinter I recall being big.

    I used to be acquainted with a track Masters world sprint champion; he couldn't even keep up with a very ordinary 1/2/3 criterium.

    Another world-class track sprinter I know contends that they in fact have more in common with other sprinters (e.g. 100 metre runners) than with other cyclists, both physically (they really *are* big men) and, much more important, mentally.

    What I learn from these observations I don't know; just my 2p
     
  17. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    And metabolicaly (perhaps the most important difference between the two groups)...
    Sprinters having high anaerobic capacities/low aerobic capacities while endurance riders (including RR sprinters) low anaerobic capacities/high aerobic capacities.
     
  18. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    All (well nearly all) humans have a capacity for endurance, but I would like to see the track sprinters competing in a RR or pursuit race. Relative to the specialists (just by watching) you would probably decide/see that they have little aerobic capacity.

    Sprint efforts and recovery from sprint type efforts requires energy from aerobic metabolism, therefore sprint training does improve aerobic capacity. So the sprinters may have more aerobic capacity than a similar untrained person.
     
  19. colavitabolla

    colavitabolla New Member

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    This is not true, the team that I ride for ( I am a Junior Racer from New Jersey, on the team Colavita-Bolla) the team captain is a 9 time Argentinean track sprinter. Now he is racing in the U.S in regular criteriums and Road races and has absoluetly no problem. In Fact he got third place at the Tour Of Somerville, which is easily one of the biggest Criteriums in the U.S. He also lives right by the Track at trexlertown and still races there and does well there as well.
     
  20. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    While I can't speak for individual cases; comparing like with like (i.e. world class riders) the track sprinters and endurance riders of the GB, Australian, etc. teams would be very weak when competing in the others events. It would be like asking a '100m' sprinter to run a marathon!!!! :D

    I am not sure that the likes of Quealy, Staff, Edie, Hoy, etc. who are all world class sprinters could complete a world class RR or have a chance in the good level criterium or complete a pursuit race in a good time (although that does produce some funny images of them competing) while they contine to train for sprinting!!!

    Remembering that all track races are not sprints and that a world class sprinter may well have more endurance capacity than a lesser trained endurance rider. Physiologicaly, sprint races are those races that are less than one minute (i.e. match sprint, 200m, 500m, olympic sprint, 1km) while endurance races are events over 1 minute (i.e. the pursuit, points race, madison, etc.).

    It sounds like the rider you state is now a regular rider in crits and RR, as such is doing a lot of 'endurance training'. It is quite feasable for a 'sprinter' to become an 'endurance rider' (or vice versa) through training; however their ability in their 'first' event (in this case sprinting) is likely to decrease significantly... their potential in their new event also be reduced (in this case endurance).

    There are also individuals that will be 'good' sprinters and endurance riders, due 'talent' or 'genetics' or 'training' etc. However I cannot think of any male rider that was a world class rider (or even national standard rider in a country where cycling is a high standard) that was national standard or world class standard in both sprint and endurance.

    As a youngster you will also no doubt know young riders that are very talented sprinters and endurance riders relative to people of their own age (in the UK we had Wiggins (now world pursuit champ) and Mathew Hayles (now on GB sprint squad)). For these young riders the sprint and endurance talent can be put down to 'talent', 'early development' and a concept that children & adolecents are not 'metabolic specialists'. The transition to world class level for these riders requires specialism to either sprint or endurance.
     
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