Why can't someone like Robbie McEwen climb?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by jojoma, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. jojoma

    jojoma New Member

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    I think Robbie is only about 5'8'' and 150. His power to weight ratio must be incredible. So why is it that he can't climb? Does it simply have to do with oxygen uptake capacity (i.e. his genetics are good for speed but not endurance??)??
     
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  2. RHR38

    RHR38 New Member

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    I think he actually can climb pretty well, but of course he doesn't climb as well as climber specialist. Athletes at Pro Tour are so good that it's better to take some role if you have any abilitys for that. Robbie is a sprinter, but of course he must have some overall abilitys to drive trough gran tours and other PT races during season. It's actually not that easy 'just drive through' mountain stage with time limit.
     
  3. italiano

    italiano New Member

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    Yeah, I wondered that too. You hear often that the ratio of weight to power is the limiting factor for climbing. But Robbie is small and is called a pocket rocket not for nothing’. May be the clue is that he can’t keep the effort as long as a true climbers can?. IF he can generate all his kick for only 10 seconds, he then needs to sit in to recharge his batteries? May be his sprinters genetics don’t buffer his lactic acid as quickly as a body of a true endurance racer? I also noticed that the same (can’t climb) holds true even for some “small” time trial specialists. Remember Boardman? At the top of his song he weighted in at only 67 kg. He’d win a prologue only to lose his yellow jersey as soon as climbing passes start…:confused:

    True climbers have wings that we, casual observers, can’t see.:D
     
  4. Frigo's Luggage

    Frigo's Luggage New Member

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    Its mostly genetics. He is loaded with fast twitch muscles. Climbers are loaded with slow twitch muscles. Plus he trains to sprint. Climbers train to climb.
     
  5. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    5'8" 150 is not really terrific ratio for a climber. 5'8" 135 is getting into the realm of the pure climbing talent but it is all about how your body stores and releases energy.
    I have a friend that I ride with and can stay with him on the flats all day but when we hit 11 percent grades or better he starts to pull away.
    He is the same weight as I am but is about 2-3 inches taller and to give myself a little slack he trains in the mountains more than me.
    That is what it takes, some talent and lot of sweat.
     
  6. kopride

    kopride Member

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    It also matters how you define "climb." If climb is a TdF mountain stage than this might not be his thing, and as noted by others, 150 pounds is no lightweight compared to the true climbers. But if climb is defined as a 1k hill climb up a steep grade, I would bet on Robbie over Rasmussen.
     
  7. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    I would bet on a 132 lb sprinter like Bettini. ;)

    FWIW, I'm a 120 lb anaerobically inclined rider and I can attest that low weight isn't all it's hyped up to be. I can climb with some good cat. 3's for 20 minutes, but I tend to struggle on longer climbs. I'm working on it though :).
     
  8. millzebub

    millzebub New Member

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    I would be curious to know what McEwan's FTP is. It does seem strange that someone that small with that much power couldn't compete on the climbs. Strange...
     
  9. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    It's all relative. I'm sure he could compete just fine with the best climbers on this forum. :) Dave Zabriskie is not known to be a great Tour climber either, but he won our fabled Snowbird HC at least once as an amateur. It is tactical riding and 5sec - 3min power that makes McEwan a winner. Weight doesn't mean that much if you don't have the oxygen "consuming" slow-twitch muscles (Type I) required to be a good climber.

    Bettini stated on his website in the past that his threshold power is 375 Watts (at 60 kg). I don't know how he defines threshold power though.
     
  10. john979

    john979 New Member

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    Simple answer: he has a power profile that clearly favors the left.
     
  11. byron27

    byron27 New Member

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    Considering Robbie attacked at the Aussie Champs a few years ago on a climb and soloed away i reckon he can climb when he has too!

    Why do it when your paid to sprint?
     
  12. john979

    john979 New Member

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    Quite different than Alpe d'Huez, non?
     
  13. 531Aussie

    531Aussie Well-Known Member

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    He's obviously not a natural cimber, but he could definitely climb and TT faster if he wanted to. He's gotta save himself for the next sprint finish.

    In other words, some people think he climbs as fast as he can in the Tour, but I reckon he climbs as slow as he can, in order to save his legs for the next flat stage. What's the point of him trying to do a mountain stage an extra 10, 20 or 30 mins faster for hardly any overall GC gain, only to wreck his chances of taking a susbsequent stage win?

    He has different fish to fry, so it's not in his interests to finish to Tour in 80th place as opposed to 100th place
     
  14. john979

    john979 New Member

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    While this is absolutely true, this does not mean that even if he dedicated himself to the task he could climb with the best or be a GC contender.
     
  15. 531Aussie

    531Aussie Well-Known Member

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    absolutely. As the other guys have said, he'd not only have to lose a bunhc of weight, but he probably has the wrong muscle fibre ratios
     
  16. RHR38

    RHR38 New Member

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    Hmm.. Makes me wonder how well all climbers could climb during TdF if they marked Robbie and tried to overtake him in every sprint? I think they would be like MJ and beat it [​IMG]
     
  17. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    Hmmm... not really. He would likely be 'loaded with' slow twitch muscles as would almost all the riders in the protour. He might have slightly fewer than the true climbers, but he is an endurance rider through and through. I'm sure there would be club level sprinters who could beat him in a flying 200.
     
  18. serpico7

    serpico7 New Member

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    Excellent point. He has to finish the mountain stages within a time limit after the *best* time of the best climbers in the world.
     
  19. doctorSpoc

    doctorSpoc New Member

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    5'8" 150 would be pretty heavy for a climber. at that height if he was about 125...130, then maybe... but even then, what's to say his sustainable power would be enough to make him competative? the long climbs (30 - 40min) in the tour are about sustainable power have nothing at all to do with max power and stustainable power as compared to your weight and Robbie is all about AnCap (30sec - 5min power) and NMP (10-20s power) and is relatively heavy as climbers go.

    what about Robbie would make you think that he has particularly high stainable power for his weight? i wouldn't suspect that at all... because a rider can do great watts over 10 seconds to 5mins doesn't mean they can do great watts over 20-30+ mins. those are normally two completely different beasts (Bettini does both of those fairly well, but he's not at the very top tier in either of those two areas... but doing both good (i.e. not great) servers him very well.
     
  20. italiano

    italiano New Member

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    If il piccolo Bettini could be scaled up by 5 to 7% while keeping his other innate and trainable qualities he'd be a world beater via drastically improved time trialing.

    I have a hunch he does not want to bulk up. I have a hunch that all experienced top tier professionals know their inborn physical weakness’ and strengths. By and large, they fall into three broad categories - sprinters, climbers, all-rounders. At some point in their careers, with some help from top-level coaching, they deliberately decide to stick with a set of nature-provided tools. It's a more rational way to cash on some glory during rather short professional careers.

    Robbie knows he's a born sprinter. He keeps his body weight/muscle mass at the level where he knows it could be used to his natural advantage - mad accelerations. If he lost 7kg, he knows he'd be no doubt a much better climber but he would lose his natural anaerobic fibers too. He prefers not to because he knows he'd never be as good as those born to fly.

    Robbie *does not want* to be a great climber. Il piccolo Bettini *does not want* to be a great tter..As smart, experienced professionals, they only want to *improve* where they lag behind without jeopardizing god-given, dough-earning tools of trade.
     
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