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Team Sky release Chris Froome’s power data

Chris Froome and Dave Brailsford
Jordan Gibbons
22 Jul 2015

But does this give us more questions than answers, and should we be directing them at ourselves?

With the release of Chris Froome’s power data many people have been asking the question ‘what can we learn from this?’ and I think we all have to be honest and admit the answer is ‘almost nothing’. Personally, I find it hard enough to make any sense of my own power data, never mind that of a pro rider.

Tim Kerrison, Team Sky’s head of athlete performance, told a sea of waiting journalists that on the final climb of Stage 10, where Froome left Nairo Quintana standing, Froome’s average power was 414w for 41 minutes 30 seconds. Great. What does that mean? That Chris Froome can do for 40 minutes what I can do for five? So I should expect – he’s a professional cyclist.

Watts are sort of meaningless without weight so, for climbers at least, the number everyone cares about is Watts per Kilo aka. power to weight ratio. Chris Froome says that his race weight fluctuates between 67kg and 68kg, which puts his w/kg between 6.08-6.17w/kg. To put things in perspective, in the early 2000s, Lance Armstrong et al. would regularly push 7.1 w/kg. Kerrison was also quick to point out that Froome has exceeded this average wattage 16 times in training (sometimes by as much as 10%).

The other number the reverse-engineers like to quote is VAM (Vertical Ascension in Meters), which is expressed as a distance per hour. Froome’s VAM on the same climb was approximately 1602 Vm/h, whereas Pantani and others in the EPO era would regularly climb at 1800 Vm/h. 

Kerrison gave out other numbers too including Froome’s average heart rate (158bpm) and his max watts during his attack (873w corrected). Given that I have recorded numerous 850w+ surges in the past (including one yesterday afternoon) perhaps it is best that we admit that watts aren’t the physiological super science they’re cracked up to be. Think what you think, and believe what you want to believe, but don’t use third party wattages to substantiate it.

Perhaps the best summation comes from Suze Clemitson for The Guardian: ‘To be a fan of the modern sport requires a University of Life degree in a range of performance-related sciences.’

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