Pint-Sized Sprinters ???



CatSpin

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I couldn't help but take note of a comment by Sherwin during the 04 TDF when McEwen took an intermediate sprint vs. Hushovd. "Two sprinters that could not be more contrasted" sizes, he stated. No kidding.

Thor – 1.83m 81kg
Robbie – 1.71m – 66kg

Just yesteday, I saw yet another picture of Fast Freddy on the podium in Portugal. Between McEwen and Rodriguez, seems like they give some of the "big" guns some problems more often than not. Take the Hushovd, Cipo and Petacchi models and view it along with track sprint champs like Hoy and Nothstein and one can glean that sprinters are big, strong dudes and not pint-sized 150 pound athletes. In the off chance Mr. McEwen and Mr. Rodriguez are viewing this, I mean no malice in my comments (pint-sized), but the two of you got me thinking; What are the build and capabilities of a sprinter?

To get started, take the known facts away like.

1. A greater balance of fast twitch muscles
2. Caution-proof speed demons and aggressive riders
3. A good "jump" and an even better team

...and you are still left with these two contrasting body types. Big and strong and little and fast. Are they equal? Does power-to-weight ratio have the same effect in a sprint as it does in the hills? If so, why are there few pint-sized track sprinters? If not, what in road cycling allows "apparently" smaller athletes win against larger (stronger?) ones?

Help here. It's got me scratching my head.

CatSpin
 

Woofer

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Road sprinters have to be all rounders in order to make to the finish line at the pro level. No road sprinter would match his sprint against a track specialist at sprinting. Look how far Nothstein fell in track ability after he had to ride the road to earn a living (from best in the world to *just* one of the best of USA after losing about 30 pounds).

Track is a different animal. No need for all rounder abilities to make it to the finish line.

CatSpin said:
I couldn't help but take note of a comment by Sherwin during the 04 TDF when McEwen took an intermediate sprint vs. Hushovd. "Two sprinters that could not be more contrasted" sizes, he stated. No kidding.

Thor – 1.83m 81kg
Robbie – 1.71m – 66kg

Just yesteday, I saw yet another picture of Fast Freddy on the podium in Portugal. Between McEwen and Rodriguez, seems like they give some of the "big" guns some problems more often than not. Take the Hushovd, Cipo and Petacchi models and view it along with track sprint champs like Hoy and Nothstein and one can glean that sprinters are big, strong dudes and not pint-sized 150 pound athletes. In the off chance Mr. McEwen and Mr. Rodriguez are viewing this, I mean no malice in my comments (pint-sized), but the two of you got me thinking; What are the build and capabilities of a sprinter?

To get started, take the known facts away like.

1. A greater balance of fast twitch muscles
2. Caution-proof speed demons and aggressive riders
3. A good "jump" and an even better team

...and you are still left with these two contrasting body types. Big and strong and little and fast. Are they equal? Does power-to-weight ratio have the same effect in a sprint as it does in the hills? If so, why are there few pint-sized track sprinters? If not, what in road cycling allows "apparently" smaller athletes win against larger (stronger?) ones?

Help here. It's got me scratching my head.

CatSpin
 

taras0000

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CatSpin said:
I couldn't help but take note of a comment by Sherwin during the 04 TDF when McEwen took an intermediate sprint vs. Hushovd. "Two sprinters that could not be more contrasted" sizes, he stated. No kidding.

Thor – 1.83m 81kg
Robbie – 1.71m – 66kg

Just yesteday, I saw yet another picture of Fast Freddy on the podium in Portugal. Between McEwen and Rodriguez, seems like they give some of the "big" guns some problems more often than not. Take the Hushovd, Cipo and Petacchi models and view it along with track sprint champs like Hoy and Nothstein and one can glean that sprinters are big, strong dudes and not pint-sized 150 pound athletes. In the off chance Mr. McEwen and Mr. Rodriguez are viewing this, I mean no malice in my comments (pint-sized), but the two of you got me thinking; What are the build and capabilities of a sprinter?

To get started, take the known facts away like.

1. A greater balance of fast twitch muscles
2. Caution-proof speed demons and aggressive riders
3. A good "jump" and an even better team

...and you are still left with these two contrasting body types. Big and strong and little and fast. Are they equal? Does power-to-weight ratio have the same effect in a sprint as it does in the hills? If so, why are there few pint-sized track sprinters? If not, what in road cycling allows "apparently" smaller athletes win against larger (stronger?) ones?

Help here. It's got me scratching my head.

CatSpin

I think in road racing it's more of what they got left at the finish. Yes, they do have to be all arounders, but a smaller guy will have a bit of an easier time than the larger guys getting upt he hills. This may leave more juice left in the tank when it comes down to the finish. Aside from that, all I can think of are genetics. If you have the fast twitch, you're a sprinter, no matter the size. As far as track sprinters being big animals as far as stature is concerned, well, look at Jan Van Eiden. He must stand at about 5'7". That's tiny in track. And Craig Maclean is no giant either. Even more so, look at Ross Edgar. He's pretty small. I think in both road and track it's more genetic make up than size that matters.
 

Orange Fish

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CatSpin said:
...and you are still left with these two contrasting body types. Big and strong and little and fast. Are they equal? Does power-to-weight ratio have the same effect in a sprint as it does in the hills? If so, why are there few pint-sized track sprinters? If not, what in road cycling allows "apparently" smaller athletes win against larger (stronger?) ones?

Help here. It's got me scratching my head.

CatSpin
Typically, you'll see a track sprinter with very well developed anaerobic capabilities and a great availability & usage of fast-twitch muscle fibers because of the way they train. They will also show greater peak power.
On the other hand, the pint-sized climbers will most likely have a lower peak power than the sprinters, but will be able to sustain 'x' amount of power for a much longer duration of time, and when we talk about hills, the weight really comes into play. They just have less weight to carry up the hills.

When you talk about power to weight ratio in sprints and in hills, they're actually not that similar. While P:W ratio does play a large role in both, you can't really compare a sprinter's P:W with a climber's. They both will have relatively high ratios that will allow them to perform their respective duties. For example, the sprinter may have a P:W of 15 watts/kg body weight (or more)...this is something that he would be able to sustain (and would train for) for a sprint-type effort.
The climber on the other hand, may have a P:W of 7-8 watts/kg (and would train this). He would be able to sustain this, however, for a much longer period of time.
It's important to consider power to weight ratio with respect to each cyclist's "job" in the race.

So why are there few pint-sized track sprinters? Because they don't have the muscle mass to put out 2,000+ watts for the short track races. They have the muscle mass and power to climb like a goat up Alp D'Huez.
 

taras0000

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Orange Fish said:
So why are there few pint-sized track sprinters? Because they don't have the muscle mass to put out 2,000+ watts for the short track races. They have the muscle mass and power to climb like a goat up Alp D'Huez.

One thing that I have noticed is the build of the typical track sprinter nowadays. Track sprinting used to be the domain of big, hulking brutes. Now we are starting to see a more lithe physique in the new crop of young guys making the grade. Sure these guys are very well muscled, but they don't look like Michael Hubner or Sean Eadie like most of the guys did during the 90's. I don't mean to highjack the thread and turn it into a track discussion, but my gist is that even within one discipline you have different types of power to deal with as well as power to weight ratio. These smaller, skinnier athletes may not have the muscle mass to put out >2000W, but they also have less frontal area, much like a small climber has less ass to drag up the hill. Typically these smaller, skinnier sprinters also have a different style of sprinting. They like to drag race. They like to wind it up real fast and say "try and come around me". This is much like the road sprinter with a lead out. And we've seen that small guys can win raod races like that too (freddy rodriguez, mcewen). I don't think that power to weight really matters, unless you're going up a hill. Just from the sprinting aspect, if you have the speedy legs, a good leadout, and enough gas in the tank, it doesn;t matter how big or small you are. Now if someone wants to talk about the climbing, I'll let them do that. I'm not too much of a climber.

The floor is yours..............
 

Orange Fish

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The power to weight ratio is really what it's all about. Staying on the topic of track cycling, if you have two sprinters with the same lead out, etc, but the only difference is that one can produce more power per kilogram of body weight, has a faster time to peak power, and a greater mean power over the race distance, he will beat the other guy. Hands down.
I'm not saying that smaller guys can't win sprints, but I just wanted to make the point that power to weight ratio is a huge variable when it comes to sprinting. That's why, for example, the Wingate anaerobic test is such a good test for track sprinters, whether it's a 10, 60, or 90 second Wingate. It's going to measure the determining factors of sprinting - anaerobic power, anaerobic capacity, and fatigue. If you measure two guys and find that one has a greater anarobic capacity and anaerobic power and fatigues slower (or less) than the next guy, then he's going to most likely win the sprint.
 

taras0000

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Orange Fish said:
The power to weight ratio is really what it's all about. Staying on the topic of track cycling, if you have two sprinters with the same lead out, etc, but the only difference is that one can produce more power per kilogram of body weight, has a faster time to peak power, and a greater mean power over the race distance, he will beat the other guy. Hands down.
I'm not saying that smaller guys can't win sprints, but I just wanted to make the point that power to weight ratio is a huge variable when it comes to sprinting. That's why, for example, the Wingate anaerobic test is such a good test for track sprinters, whether it's a 10, 60, or 90 second Wingate. It's going to measure the determining factors of sprinting - anaerobic power, anaerobic capacity, and fatigue. If you measure two guys and find that one has a greater anarobic capacity and anaerobic power and fatigues slower (or less) than the next guy, then he's going to most likely win the sprint.

In my opinion, power to weight ratios are only a signficant factor at low speed acceleration. I agree with you on all the other factors, such as mean power, anaeriobic capacity and such. It's at low speeds that forward momentum is hampered by one's weight, whether that be up a hill or on the flat. Once the rate of acceleration tapers off, it's the pure amount of power that wins out. Your mention of the Wingate test is good, except that nowhere during a Wingate test does your weight become a factor. A Wingate will provide you with all the absolute numbers that pertain to power, be that peak power, rate of acceleration, and average power. If you were to set up two lead out trains, each with it's own sprinter, and each sprinter weighing the same with both putting out identical power numbers, the guy who pushes less air will win. If you were to run the same test, but run a small guy with a slightly higher power to weight ratio than the larger guy, but the larger guy putting out more watts, and both guys having similar drag co-efficients, the guy with the higher wattage numbers will win.
 

ric_stern/RST

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taras0000 said:
, and both guys having similar drag co-efficients, the guy with the higher wattage numbers will win.

Lots of good stuff snipped...

It tends to be that CdA scales to mass, in other words larger people tend to be less aerodynamic than smaller people (they have a higher CdA). However, many people don't have access to a wind tunnel to ascertain their CdA, and consequently mass is used instead. Rather than looking at just power to mass, things scale better when measured power to mass^0.67, which is what we use at RST to look at certain measures of fitness (be it MAP or peak sprint powers).

Additionally, it's not just the person with the highest power that wins (either on the track or the road) -- tactics and skill play a big part in these (and other) events.

Finally, the Wingate test of anaerobic power is 30-secs duration. Don't they teach you anything at your place OF? :p ;)

Any other duration would be a modified Wingate test or something else.

Ric
 

Orange Fish

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ric_stern/RST said:
Finally, the Wingate test of anaerobic power is 30-secs duration. Don't they teach you anything at your place OF? :p ;)

Any other duration would be a modified Wingate test or something else.

Ric
I understand this. A 10 second, 60 second, or 90 second is a modified Wingate, but a Wingate none the less. They still measure the same variables.
 

velomanct

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CatSpin said:
I couldn't help but take note of a comment by Sherwin during the 04 TDF when McEwen took an intermediate sprint vs. Hushovd. "Two sprinters that could not be more contrasted" sizes, he stated. No kidding.

Thor – 1.83m 81kg
Robbie – 1.71m – 66kg

Just yesteday, I saw yet another picture of Fast Freddy on the podium in Portugal. Between McEwen and Rodriguez, seems like they give some of the "big" guns some problems more often than not. Take the Hushovd, Cipo and Petacchi models and view it along with track sprint champs like Hoy and Nothstein and one can glean that sprinters are big, strong dudes and not pint-sized 150 pound athletes. In the off chance Mr. McEwen and Mr. Rodriguez are viewing this, I mean no malice in my comments (pint-sized), but the two of you got me thinking; What are the build and capabilities of a sprinter?

To get started, take the known facts away like.

1. A greater balance of fast twitch muscles
2. Caution-proof speed demons and aggressive riders
3. A good "jump" and an even better team

...and you are still left with these two contrasting body types. Big and strong and little and fast. Are they equal? Does power-to-weight ratio have the same effect in a sprint as it does in the hills? If so, why are there few pint-sized track sprinters? If not, what in road cycling allows "apparently" smaller athletes win against larger (stronger?) ones?

Help here. It's got me scratching my head.

CatSpin
I wouldn't classify petacchi as a big sprinter. he is 6' and 160lbs, just about a typical roadie. If you look at Nothstien back from the 96 olympics, he was huge at 6'2" 220lbs.

power to weight is really only a matter for lower speed accelerations as taras said. above 30mph, absolute power is what pushes through the wind.

btw, I think Thor is more than 81kg, more like 90
 

Orange Fish

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velomanct said:
power to weight is really only a matter for lower speed accelerations as taras said. above 30mph, absolute power is what pushes through the wind.
Can you give an example of this? What exactly do you mean in the second sentence about 'absolute power' and how do you define absolute power?
Thanks
 

Orange Fish

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Once the rate of acceleration tapers off, it's the pure amount of power that wins out. Your mention of the Wingate test is good, except that nowhere during a Wingate test does your weight become a factor. A Wingate will provide you with all the absolute numbers that pertain to power, be that peak power, rate of acceleration, and average power.
When you talk about "pure amount of power," what exactly do you mean by that? In the Wingate test, that's correct that your weight does not factor into how well you do, but it provides you with not only the absolute numbers like you said, but also the relative numbers (i.e. watts/kg body weight) that pertain to peak power and mean power.
And since we're talking about sprinting, the relative numbers mean a lot because the Wingate test is probably the best test to use for a sprinter because we're concerned with those measures of power, especially the relative numbers because you not only need the acceleration, but you also need the top-end speed to be maintained through the sprint, and it's at this point that high power to weight ratio comes into play. If a sprinter can't sustain the power after the acceleration, he's not going to be of much use. Of course we can talk about various lengths of sprints, but generally, a guy with great acceleration and a lack of that top-end speed is going to spike and then peter out really quickly, probably getting passed along the way by the next guy.
 

taras0000

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Orange Fish said:
When you talk about "pure amount of power," what exactly do you mean by that? In the Wingate test, that's correct that your weight does not factor into how well you do, but it provides you with not only the absolute numbers like you said, but also the relative numbers (i.e. watts/kg body weight) that pertain to peak power and mean power.
And since we're talking about sprinting, the relative numbers mean a lot because the Wingate test is probably the best test to use for a sprinter because we're concerned with those measures of power, especially the relative numbers because you not only need the acceleration, but you also need the top-end speed to be maintained through the sprint, and it's at this point that high power to weight ratio comes into play. If a sprinter can't sustain the power after the acceleration, he's not going to be of much use. Of course we can talk about various lengths of sprints, but generally, a guy with great acceleration and a lack of that top-end speed is going to spike and then peter out really quickly, probably getting passed along the way by the next guy.

You are correct in stating that relative numbers mean a lot, but power to weight ratios don't come into play for top end speed. To go back a couple of quotes, one from veloman and one from me "absolute power" and "pure power" in both instances referred to the same thing - Maximum wattage. A high Max wattage, a High mean wattage, and good aerodynamics will get you a high top speed. To quote Newton, "an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on my an outside force". At high speed, the forces on a cyclist are - wind resistance and the bicycles mechanical resistance (rolling resistance through the tires, chain, friction in bearings, etc). The mechanical resistance in this case, or any case for that matter with today's equipment is almost nil. That leaves air resistance. The energy it takes a cyclist ot overcome air resistance is huge. The speed of something is directly related to the cube of the amount of energy being expended to move it. Simply, you want to double your speed, it will take eight times the amount of energy you are currently putting out to do that. Higher peak wattages have a higher potential for higher maximum speeds. A higher mean power allows you to hold that speed longer and have it decline more slowly. Gravity in sprinting itself plays no role against a cyclist except on at the beginning of a level standing start or if the cyclist is sprinting up a hill. If you were to use kilo riders for an example, you would find that the guys who hit the highest speeds have the highest maximum power, yet the guys who have the fastest times have the highest mean power for the duration of the sprint.
 

Orange Fish

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taras0000 said:
You are correct in stating that relative numbers mean a lot, but power to weight ratios don't come into play for top end speed. To go back a couple of quotes, one from veloman and one from me "absolute power" and "pure power" in both instances referred to the same thing - Maximum wattage. A high Max wattage, a High mean wattage, and good aerodynamics will get you a high top speed. To quote Newton, "an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on my an outside force". At high speed, the forces on a cyclist are - wind resistance and the bicycles mechanical resistance (rolling resistance through the tires, chain, friction in bearings, etc). The mechanical resistance in this case, or any case for that matter with today's equipment is almost nil. That leaves air resistance. The energy it takes a cyclist ot overcome air resistance is huge. The speed of something is directly related to the cube of the amount of energy being expended to move it. Simply, you want to double your speed, it will take eight times the amount of energy you are currently putting out to do that. Higher peak wattages have a higher potential for higher maximum speeds. A higher mean power allows you to hold that speed longer and have it decline more slowly. Gravity in sprinting itself plays no role against a cyclist except on at the beginning of a level standing start or if the cyclist is sprinting up a hill. If you were to use kilo riders for an example, you would find that the guys who hit the highest speeds have the highest maximum power, yet the guys who have the fastest times have the highest mean power for the duration of the sprint.
Ok, so power to weight ratio expresses the relationship between output and weight. And a kilo rider who yields higher mean power than another kilo rider who is exactly the same in height, weight, frontal area, etc., will have a faster time according to what you said, correct?
If you were to use kilo riders for an example, you would find that the guys who hit the highest speeds have the highest maximum power, yet the guys who have the fastest times have the highest mean power for the duration of the sprint.
Then, all the power to weight ratio would describe is the relationship between power output and weight. Since the faster kilo cyclist in this example has a higher mean power but otherwise is exactly the same as the second rider, he will have a greater power to weight ratio, and that was the point I was trying to make earlier by using the term "power to weight ratio." Maybe I didn't describe it well enough before, but it sounds like essentially we are talking about the same thing...well partly...at least since it got turned into a track discussion :)
 

taras0000

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Orange Fish said:
Ok, so power to weight ratio expresses the relationship between output and weight. And a kilo rider who yields higher mean power than another kilo rider who is exactly the same in height, weight, frontal area, etc., will have a faster time according to what you said, correct? Then, all the power to weight ratio would describe is the relationship between power output and weight. Since the faster kilo cyclist in this example has a higher mean power but otherwise is exactly the same as the second rider, he will have a greater power to weight ratio, and that was the point I was trying to make earlier by using the term "power to weight ratio." Maybe I didn't describe it well enough before, but it sounds like essentially we are talking about the same thing...well partly...at least since it got turned into a track discussion :)

Sounds like we're on the same page to me.
 

CatSpin

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Thanks, members, for all the feedback. Whether roadie or track, seems like determining whether you have stronger mean or max power is an excellent consideration for a roadie's distance and position in the sprint. Is there a quick way to find our if you are mean-power or max power?

Pending this answer, is there an experienced, race-winning roadie who can attest to what power (mean or max) is usually more usefull in a bunch sprint at the end of the race?

Thanks,

CatSpin
 

taras0000

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CatSpin said:
Thanks, members, for all the feedback. Whether roadie or track, seems like determining whether you have stronger mean or max power is an excellent consideration for a roadie's distance and position in the sprint. Is there a quick way to find our if you are mean-power or max power?

Pending this answer, is there an experienced, race-winning roadie who can attest to what power (mean or max) is usually more usefull in a bunch sprint at the end of the race?

Thanks,

CatSpin

If you have access to a computrainer or a Wingate test, then you can look at the graph and compare the curve to other cyclists. If you have a Polar Power meter or a Power tap with download capabilities you can do the same. You can also try the trial and error technique. Do some field sprints and see how you do. If you have a more powerful jump than the rest of the guys, but peter out really quickly, then you are a max-power type of sprinter. If you tend to reel guys in during the sprint, you are a mean-power type sprinter. Max power guy sits on a wheel and waits as long as possible before going for the line. Mean power guy tries to go for a longer sprint after catching guys by surprise. Which one is more usefull depends on how strong you are relative to the other guys you are racing against. It's really a matter of exploiting your strengths against the others and limiting your weakness. This goes for either type of sprinter. In my opinion though, getting the top speed first is important, then work on being able to hold it.