Saturday, September 13, 2008

Alberto Contador On The Angliru : Climbing Speed & Power to Weight Ratio

One can only sit back in astonishment and marvel at the speeds at which the breakaway flew up Angliru. Once again, Contador teaches his rivals how to tame mountains.

Anyone want to take a guess at his VAM for this climb? I'm pretty curious...

Okay, lets see if I can do it.

The EUROSPORT recording above kicks off right from the 4K to go banner. Assuming it is live like it says and there wasn't any cut and paste job by the uploader, Contador took about 15.5 minutes to get to the top at 1600m (5250 feet), as he crosses the banner there and proceeds towards the downhill. Referring to slope information for the mountain, the altitude difference between 4k to go and the top is roughly 500m. 15.5 minutes to climb 2 miles? Think about how steep that road was. VAM will be proportional to steepness. In this case, you can pretty much guess that it'll be in the high range.

So for the given altitude change (not for the whole climb) and from around the point he accelerated from Valverde and Rodriguez :

Ofcourse, there'll be an error percentage + or - something, but c'mon, it can't be huge. Nevertheless, a VAM of anything close to this number is bloody frickin remarkable!!!! Anyone disagree?

For a perspective, just remember - when Marco Pantani climbed the Alpe d'Heuz at record speed in 37 minutes & 35 seconds back in 1997 , he produced a VAM of around 1791!! And the climb was only at 7.9% average as opposed to Angliru's 10.13%, but oh well....he must have taken the pill too.

Finally, according to the evil Dr. Ferrari's method (and I have no idea where he digs this from), one can get an estimate of Contador's power to weight ratio (PWR) by dividing his VAM by 300. For the sake of calculation, lets take 1930 as his VAM.

That'll be just sufficient to be one the top climbers in history, eh?

Multiply that with his recorded racing weight of 62 kg, and you can see that he roughly produced around 400 Watts or close to it during those 15 minutes.

Don't grill me because of accuracy issues. I'm just giving you the numbers for the idea.

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Anonymous said...

interesting! i wonder what gearing he used. the kid was flying!!!

Anonymous said...

A little on the high side I think, butok thanks for posting this!

Ryan Sherlock said...

I hear it was a 34x30 on the rear... At least that is what Eurosport said. Almost sounds like MTB gearing :)

Anonymous said...

ryan : you sure about that? who makes a 34-30 cog set for road?

dan said...

for a pro cyclist, contador looks to have very less musculature on the legs. a big gear won't suit him.

Ron said...

Perhaps 15 minutes sounds reasonable. I read that it takes pro's around half an hour to climb the last 6.5 kilometers. and the easiest stretch has a grade of 12%. Woww!!

David Millar probably caught a flight back home buhahahaha

Anonymous said...

from my experience with SRAM, they very good durable components and excellent range of gearing. the others have only realized lately how important this is to riders.

Anonymous said...

Contador's VAM on the Col de Peyresourde in the 2007 Tour was 1642...... seems he's in peak form for this year's vuelta....

Ron said...

The numbers are a rough estimate. I would imagine Contador's VAM to be in the late 1800's but again, we havent seen such consistently steep climbs much before so its possible he did cross 1900m/h. This is also only for the last 4K, which is the steepest. The entire climb is some 9-12K long and so the average VAM probably is not unbelievably high.

Ricco getting caught, even though late, was pretty reasonable as his reference VAM's for early that year never showed anything close to what he put out in the Giro.

Rod Diaz said...

A few notes:

The gearing used by some riders (53x34) is not a big deal for BCD issues - you can put a 50, 53, 55 on a 110 (compact) chainring; the reason people use compacts is to have a smaller chainring for climbing - 34 Vs. 39. A 34 is physically too small to be attached to a normally spaced crankset since the perimeter is too small to fit in the existing holes. The only thing that suffers is front shifting due to the big ramp between 34 and 53 teeth. Typical front derailleurs recommend a 14 tooth difference.

VAM is proportional to steepness. If a strong climber was doing stairs instead of a bike race his VAM would be even higher (say, 1:1 ratio of climbing to forward movement). This is because the steeper it gets less energy is used to overcome aerodynamic drag AND he travels less actual distance. El Angliru is tremendously steep, but not that long in distance (12.2 km, 10.3% grade, 1,248 m altitude gain) compared to say Le Col de Galibier (35 km, 5.5%, 2,000 m altitude gain). At the same power/weight, the VAM for Angliru would be much higher than for the Galibier (Armstrong posted 1,450 m/h on the Galibier). 6.4 W/kg is less than some top climbers have posted in other Grand Tour climbs. The infamous Ferrari's magic number was 6.7 W/kg for a Tour contender.

Before you point the "doping" finger, do some research. Can't assure any of these guys aren't in the juice, but VAM is hardly the parameter to judge it.

Anonymous said...

But Piepoli didn't dope!!!!

brettok said...

I'm not pointing a finger at Contador (though his Puerto/Bruyneel connection could be enough to raise suspicion) but what I'm saying is it seems that some riders, when doing a great ride, get labelled a doper, yet others, who do those kind of rides over and over and dominate (for up to seven years!) are lauded for their hard work, talent and preparation.

Funny, after posting this morning, I was out on a ride with a mate, and we were climbing one of the big climbs that is popular. He went away and smashed it up the climb, I was back a little and ended up catching a group of riders who were struggling up. When I re-joined my mate at the top, he said that as he passed some of the slower riders, one yelled out "are you on drugs?". Seems anyone who is faster than anyone else, even on a Sunday ride, is under suspicion, rightly or wrongly.

PS Armstrong doped! ;-)