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After having a look through the Milan-San Remo results archives(a race held every year of similar distance on a similar course with only small changes) a few things stood out: Fausto Coppi's win in '49 had an avg. speed of 39.4km/h, Merckx in '67 still has one of the 3 highest average speeds recorded at 44.8km/h, both were faster than the winning avg. speed for 2011 of 38.3km/h. Bugno in '90 still has the highest avg. ever. It makes me wonder how much aero wheels, lightweight carbon frames, power based training, etc. is all really worth.........

http://bikeraceinfo.com/classics/Milan-San Remo/milan-san-remo-index.html
 

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On flats - aero dynamics of a solo rider might be worth a few seconds a mile.

In pack riding, modern on-bar shifting may make the difference of staying with the other riders or being dropped.

In climbs, dropping 5 pounds over 1980s weights might be make a difference to a pro on major climbs. Sean Kelly swore by his ultralight Vitus back in the day.

For you and me - nada.
 

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The Poggio and Cipressa climbs were added in the 60s and 80s in an attempt to make it less of a sprinters race, and another hill was added recently. So the average speeds are not comprable. Not that average speed is a good metric for a bike race. A year with favorable winds is going to be faster than a year where there's a headwind.
 

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Speeding up

slegros said:
After having a look through the Milan-San Remo results archives(a race held every year of similar distance on a similar course with only small changes) a few things stood out: Fausto Coppi's win in '49 had an avg. speed of 39.4km/h, Merckx in '67 still has one of the 3 highest average speeds recorded at 44.8km/h, both were faster than the winning avg. speed for 2011 of 38.3km/h. Bugno in '90 still has the highest avg. ever. It makes me wonder how much aero wheels, lightweight carbon frames, power based training, etc. is all really worth....
Bicycle Quarterly did an interesting analysis (Volume 8, No. 4) comparing running times with bike race results. Basically, the improvement in running times (roughly in the last 60 years) is just about the same as the improvement in bike race times. IOW, much of the improvement seen in the past 50 years is due to improvements in training and nutrition rather than equipment. Obviously weight savings is meaningful for climbing (about 10 seconds saved per hour of climbing on a 6% grade if you reduce weight by 300 grams). On the flats, an aero frame or top of the line aero wheels are worth about 0.3 mph at 20 mph (0.5 km/hr at 32 km/hr) but weight is pretty much meaningless. There is precious little evidence that any changes in the bike or equipment have improved rider efficiency (calories burned per watt delivered to the rear wheel).
 

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As Kerry said, training, nutrition, and a more thorough understanding of biomechanics tO achieve a more efficient fit.
I might gain .1mph with a $10,000 bike, but a pro fitting has added about 2mph.
 

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Is there still hope?

Peanya said:
As Kerry said, training, nutrition, and a more thorough understanding of biomechanics tO achieve a more efficient fit.
I might gain .1mph with a $10,000 bike, but a pro fitting has added about 2mph.
Yeah!

On a "false flat" I got passed by a guy about 20 years younger on a carbon bike. I grabbed his wheel and stuck with him all the way to an intersection. I was riding a 24 pound lugged steel bike from the 80s with 28C tires and fenders. We waited. Then a young guy on a mountain bike and I, drafted him for another 3 miles on a very slightly rising bike path next to a creek. We were doing 18 mph.

Just goes to show, with grit and determination, equipment handicaps can be overcome.:biggrin5:
 

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Merckx's incredible time may be due to the M-S R being almost all in one direction (s-s/w) and having a tail wind in his favour. It also may be due to him being GOD.
In all seriousness, I get the feeling on flat or gently undulating roads that if I had more weight and momentum in my bike then I would be able to maintain a steady speed with less effort. I also get the feeling on a heavy bike when climbing that it would be so much faster without the weight. So many contradictions.... another is when descending at speed on a light bike, I wish that my bike was heavier and more planted, and somewhat compensating for the wind resistance created with speed. I get the feeling that they all cancel each other out to the point of insignificance. Rolling weight is another matter though.. at least as far as acceleration goes.
 

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I'll take a chance and say it-

The biggest performance upgrade you can do is dope.
They simply didn't test much back then. It was all part of it.

Perhaps my comment belongs in the doping forum - but I felt it was related to the topic.
 

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skygodmatt said:
I'll take a chance and say it-

The biggest performance upgrade you can do is dope.
They simply didn't test much back then. It was all part of it.

Perhaps my comment belongs in the doping forum - but I felt it was related to the topic.
Your comment may be true, but it has nothing to do with cycling technology or weight as in the OP.
 

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Oasisbill said:
Rolling weight is another matter though.. at least as far as acceleration goes.
rolling weight hasn't changed much, practically the same tubulars and boxed alloy rims were and stay light. hub weight doesn't mean much.

As for TdF, average speed went up to, from 35-37 in the sixties and seventies to 39-40 in the 2000s. But there are some aggravating factors like tiny support teams, worse roads, lots of split stages. But there should be something in tech that helps them ride faster, tiny bits but they all add up: aero stuff, lighter wheels and bikes, gears and shifters, radios.

I don't know but I think riders' positions changed too. Modern position has a very low front end, I'm not sure but in the sixties and seventies handlebars were a bit higher.
 

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Another thought from watching "Stars and Watercarriers": just look at Merckx leading the whole peloton to pull back a lone rider, have you seen any modern GC racer doing THIS?

Such racing hasn't happen for quite a long time and will never happen again.
 

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Fredrico said:
Yeah!

On a "false flat" I got passed by a guy about 20 years younger on a carbon bike. I grabbed his wheel and stuck with him all the way to an intersection. I was riding a 24 pound lugged steel bike from the 80s with 28C tires and fenders. We waited. Then a young guy on a mountain bike and I, drafted him for another 3 miles on a very slightly rising bike path next to a creek. We were doing 18 mph.

Just goes to show, with grit and determination, equipment handicaps can be overcome.:biggrin5:
You drafted him, which requires less energy, which still makes you slower. Good job! If you'd have had a lighter bike you might have been the leader and not the follower :p
 

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dot said:
rolling weight hasn't changed much, practically the same tubulars and boxed alloy rims were and stay light. hub weight doesn't mean much.
I agree. My wheels in 1983 were lighter than my current wheels. i could buy some marginally lighter wheels but they would only make an insignificant difference.
 

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Oasisbill said:
Your comment may be true, but it has nothing to do with cycling technology or weight as in the OP.
If training and nutrition are "cycling technology" then so is dope.
 

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looigi said:
If training and nutrition are "cycling technology" then so is dope.
New training and nutrition knowledge may be called cycling technology, but dope is neither training nor nutrition. I get your point though.
 

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dot said:
Another thought from watching "Stars and Watercarriers": just look at Merckx leading the whole peloton to pull back a lone rider, have you seen any modern GC racer doing THIS?

Such racing hasn't happen for quite a long time and will never happen again.
Bingo we have a winner!

Racing has slowly but surely lost it's testosterone with those that will sacrifice everything to pull at the front. What we have now is a bunch of strategist figuring out how to do the least amount of work possible and still stay in contention.

Get rid of the race radios and let men race like men again.
 

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Today: team strategy, lead outs and domestiques. Back then, it was different ala Merckx and Coppi and such. Since I am a bicycle commuter, I relate more to a lone rider facing the hill and route alone than a team rider benefiting from a another rider killing themselves so I can win the stage or the race. ;)
 

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Oasisbill said:
Your comment may be true, but it has nothing to do with cycling technology or weight as in the OP.
It has a lot to do with the responses that suggest that speed increases have been rather limited over X period of time. If (and I'm jusy saying "if") the "old school" was disadvantaged in bike tech and training knowledge, but advantaged in doping applicayion, then it makes it difficult to conclude that advances in bike tech haven't had much of an impact on race speed. Maybe they've just offset decreases in doping application. We just can't know.
 

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Thanks!

nOOky said:
You drafted him, which requires less energy, which still makes you slower. Good job! If you'd have had a lighter bike you might have been the leader and not the follower :p
I rode a friend's aluminum bike the other day. Carbon fork, about 18 pounds weight. The only plus I noticed was that it went up grades better. That of course is where I get dropped! On flats, my old 22 pound steel replica of what Eddy rode has momentum the lighter bike doesn't, so there's no trouble keeping with the pack. The old bike also accelerates and climbs really responsively, even though at a weight disadvantage. On a good day, I've wound it up past younger guys on lesser frames. With steel, it's like the harder you hit it, the more responsive it becomes. With mid level aluminum and carbon that's just the reverse. Several times I've heard wondrous testimonies at how so and so high end carbon works so much better than the mid-level bike it replaced. That was the same with steel bikes, but the old good stuff still rides as good as the new good stuff, even with the slight weight handicap. :thumbsup: IMO. :biggrin5:
 
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