Fabian Cancellara - a study in strength and flexibility

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by swampy1970, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    An interesting read from Cyclingnews.com. Of course I had to mention this to the therapist, who's been telling me that I need to build glute strength and improve my relatively poor hamstring and psoas flexibility, only to get the "I told you so". She's been doing this for 15 years - I guess I should listen more. LOL

    Full article and pictures: http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2009/features/saxo_bank_BGfit109

    Fabian Cancellara - a study in strength and flexibility
    Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara made a clear impression on Pruitt, with the American proclaiming after the medical assessment and initial bike fit that, "I have learned a lot about the reason for this guy's success in the last few minutes". The reason for his praise? Cancellara's considerable flexibility and strength, which enable him to comfortably hold an aerodynamic tuck during time trials. Of the Saxo Bank riders seen, Cancellara seemed to impress Pruitt most, biomechanically; in fact, he had some good news for the Swiss TT specialist after the examination.

    As is always the case, the BG assessment started off with an examination of the rider off the bike. Cancellara was judged to have good shoulder strength, and was then asked to touch his toes; he did more than that, putting the palms of his hands flat on the ground and earning praise from the assessor. His leg length was found to be equal.

    He was then asked to lie on his back, straighten his leg and raise it upwards towards the vertical; he was found to have 85 degrees of angle on the right leg, with three more on the left. Pruitt was clearly impressed with this, saying that it was "very flexible for a big guy", while bringing his knees to his chest revealed what was termed, "huge glute [gluteal] flexibility," namely a right leg reading of 130 degrees and a left leg of 135. His glute strength was judged by Pruitt to be 'bulletproof'.

    Like the other riders on the Saxo Bank team, Cancellara will this year be using Specialized's Body Geometry shoes. His size 44.5 footwear had the standard 1.5 mm Varus Wedge slope built in, angling the feet slightly from the horizontal plane.

    One on his road bike, Pruitt checked his symmetry and existing position. Cancellara was seen to have a tendency to sit with his right hip slightly forward, and to roll his right knee inwards under pressure; an additional 1.5mm shim was suggested for the shoe on that side and that, plus a recommended change to the more supportive blue Specialized insoles, led to a straighter tracking of his knee.

    The aforementioned boost for Cancellara was the news that due to his flexibility and strength, his time trial position can actually be set lower than it currently is. Pruitt favours three settings for time trials; the lowest, most aerodynamic is for prologues, the intermediate is for time trials up to an hour long, and the highest is for anything longer than that. Cancellara's current position actually fits into this third category, and so he can go lower (and become more aero) with no loss in power. The expected increase in speed is good news for him, and bad for his time trial rivals.

    Overall, Pruitt was very impressed. "You are truly made to be a time trialist," he told the Olympic champion.
     
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  2. Meek One

    Meek One New Member

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    Thanks Swampy. Fabian is one of the few pros I follow. :)
     
  3. n crowley

    n crowley New Member

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    What has a straightened leg got to do with pedalling or power output ?
     
  4. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Pruitt believes that flexibility is important in achieving a good position on the bike and helping with staying injury free.

    I gotta say that until recently I wasn't too hot on that concept but you can now consider my eyes wide open on this subject. Can't wait to get back on the bike in a few days now that my 'chest cheese' has subsided. :D
     
  5. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Thanks for this informative piece, Swamp.
     
  6. Geoff Vadar

    Geoff Vadar New Member

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    Absolutely nothing. Total wank and waste of time. It almost as bad as 'frame stiffness increased by 30%' every...single....year....

    Everyone must of been on complete wet noodles back in the ancient times (circa 2003). Thank god for 30% increased frame stiffness in perpetuity. Now a whole bunch of seppos will start stretching too much in hope it will shave minutes off their TT times. Pissa.
     
  7. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    No shit Sherlock. I mean telling a guy after he's won 6 national TT championships, 2 TdF prologues, the Olympics TT gold medal, and 2 world championship TTs titles that he'll make a good TT rider, well I'm astounded at this guy's genius :rolleyes:
     
  8. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I like Cancellara, a very strong and dedicated rider. I don't request autographs very often but I have his.
     
  9. n crowley

    n crowley New Member

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    This is in keeping with Pruitt's lack of knowledge and guesswork as to the root cause of cycling's lower back pain and gives me the opportunity to provide another example of the perfection involved in Anquetil's non vertical pedalling technique. The ideal comfortable TT position is all about thigh/abdomen clearance, breathing and max power output. Anquetil's pedalling is most powerful with shoulders in a low position and not only gives max tangential crank power between 11 and 1 o'c, but as you start that max power application at 11, the rising leg's knee/thigh height is temporarily frozen at its 11 o'c height until 1 o'c by the combined action of the muscles used by the hips, thighs, ankles and arms for this purpose. Flexibility is unimportant here because with hips and arms supplying all pedalling resistance and upper body weight support, the lower back is in a relaxed state, completely removed from all the stress and strains associated with the natural vertical pedalling styles.
     
  10. Meek One

    Meek One New Member

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    Where can I read more about Anquetil?
    Thanks.
     
  11. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    LOL.... seems to me that a couple Brits are the only ones buying the manure here. I don't know much about biomechanics, but if I were introduced to a bunch of riders and one of them has a nametag which reads Fabian Cancellara, I'm pretty sure I could identify the good TT-er without a lot of effort.
     
  12. grahamspringett

    grahamspringett New Member

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    Aren't you all missing the point? He's flexible, he can hold a low aero position.

    Forgive the cheek, but unless any of you 'critics' can show me a jersey with those pretty colours across the chest or a medal with those five attractive circles on it, then why not just nod in appreciation of a bloke who could pretty much break any of us in a race.

    Why does there have to be such venom from guys who in the overall scheme of things are nobodys?
     
  13. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    No, I think you are. Fabian is an incredible rider who can hold an aerodymic position -- all of us nobody's know that despite the fact that none of us knew that he could touch the ground with his palms or achieve an 85-degree angle between his legs while lying on his back.

    So, what would you say is the point of an article which tells us precisely what the entire cycling world already knew?
     
  14. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    I don't think anyone is having a go at Cancellara, who we all agree is a phenomenal rider. And I don't think we are suggesting that a good level of flexibility won't help a rider obtain/sustain an aero position.

    I just don't get a guy who checks a rider's flexibility and proclaims they'll make a good TT rider when that's so bloody obvious from his results already.

    I mean there are plenty of very flexible people at your local yoga class but that doesn't make them good TT riders.
     
  15. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Hahahahaaaa...

    Pruitt has forgotten more about biomechanics that you ever knew. You fail. Try harder next time.
     
  16. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Try going back to the days of really flexible frames - circa 1984 and the Vitus 979, as favoured by one Mr "King of the Classics" Sean Kelly. 2003... if that's old to you then you must be somewhat of a nu-jack. ;)

    Think back to the end of 1991 and a certain Chris Boardman had to spend almost two months stretching and learning to adapt to a windcheeter bike that was then adopted by Lotus and used to catch Lehman in the Olympic pursuit final and subsequently do fun things like take over 5 minutes out of Riis in the GP de Nations the year he won the Tour and earned his nickname "Mr 60percent" as well as a few Tour prologues.

    From personal experience, I can say it helps. I'd have never have ridden in the TT position that I did without stretching and probably never have got the times that I did either. Then again, I'm not one of the lucky few who seems to be naturally flexible. Each to his own I guess.
     
  17. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    "Dr Andy Pruitt, EdD, PA, is the Director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. He is a former cycling competitor and has been in Sports Medicine for 35 years. His biomechanical interest started while he was at the University of Colorado, and in 1985 he began working with an Israeli biomechanist in digitising and analysing data on cyclists.
    In the years since he has dealt with a huge number of cyclists, including big US names such as Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond, Floyd Landis, Bobby Julich and Christian Vande Velde, plus the Italian rider Damiano Cunego. He is regarded as arguably the world's foremost authority on bike fit, and has a long running association with Specialized. He played a big role in designing the company's Body Geometry shoes, which feature a number of ergonomic enhancements."

    Now, I don't know if he really is that good but I think from the short bio you get the idea... He certainly aint some nujack who digs measuring angles 'n shit.
     
  18. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe its because Brits ride more time trials than anyone else... I know plenty of people who only raced time trial events and did over 100 per year.
     
  19. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    When did he get his PhD in stating the obvious? ;)
     
  20. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    Natural ability which includes his flexibility is what makes Cancellara a great TT-ist. I don't know that stretching for non-flexible types will accomplish similar adaptation. I think that's where people have a problem with it. Let's not forget that BG FIT is a product like any other that is currently marketed by Specialized*. Andy Pruitt is the inventor/expert face for the product. And because the main objective is to sell the product to the masses, we always need to have a healthy dose of skepticism, expert's credentials nothwithstanding. The sponsorships and articles are just part of their marketing campaign.

    *Disclaimer: I make use of Specialized products, including bike, helmet, shoes, BG fit (jury's still out).
     
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