Banning Power Meters in Races???

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A lot of times I scratch my head and try to figure out how these supposed professional cyclist come up with the stuff they do.  Case is point is the statements by both Nairo Quintana and his team mate, Alejandro Valverde, who sit is 1st and 2nd overall in the Tour of Spain currently, that power meters have no place in bike races and should be banned.

Quintana said – “They take away a lot of spectacle and make you race more cautiously. I’d be the first in line to say they should be banned.”

Then Valverde added – “I think they’re really useful for training, but they take out a lot of drama from the sport. In competition you should be racing on feelings.”

Okay, I get it.  They were pissed/disappointed that Chris Froome decided that he didn’t want to go over his limit a couple days ago and rode steady, losing nearly a minute, only to come back and sprint for 2nd on the stage.  He was probably looking at his numbers, both power and heart rate and decided that the pace wasn’t for him.

But, in my opinion, that only made the race way more exciting.  It added, to use Alejandro’s word, “drama” to the race.  You thought Froome was done and then he is resurrected from the near dead.  It was good drama.

Froomes’ answer to those guys – “What? We should go back to single-speed bikes as well?”

There is a ton of stuff that I’d remove from the pro peloton before power meters.  Race radio for sure.  Maybe even carbon rims.  It seems like these guys can’t seem to handle their bikes so good anymore and a constant braking surface would help out immensely.  How about anything electronic on a bike?  We could go on and on.

Power meters and heart rate monitors are personal tools.  I don’t ever look down at my Garmin and think, jesus, I need to ride differently because my numbers are all over the top.  That is just me.  But, I don’t train by these numbers either. Every World Tour team has a power meter sponsor.   Here’s a link to what power meters each World Tour team is currently using. 

I’m sure Chris Frrome knows exactly what he’s capable of at any given moment.  So yes, he uses that tool better than Quintana or Valverde.  Does that mean it should be banned from racing.  I think not.  And really Nairo is a bit of a hypocrite here.  Check out this video at Nairo is just about ready to crush the field, but is screwing around with his Garmin for a long while.  Go to about 1 minute it to view.

Did you see the finish of today’s stage in Spain?  Think Quintana thought Froome was riding by power numbers there?  I think not, once again.

I'm using a Quarq Elsa, with Shimano rings on my road bike.

I’m using a Quarq Elsa, with Shimano rings on my road bike.

And a Stages Dura-Ace left are on my cross/gravel setup.

And a Stages Dura-Ace left are on my cross/gravel setup.

Tucker ran over to Tuesday night Beer night. He was too hot to hang with the gang.

Tucker ran over to Tuesday night Beer night. He was too hot to hang with the gang.

31 thoughts on “Banning Power Meters in Races???

  1. Jim

    Their logic is so flawed that it is hard to know where to start.
    Did his flair for the dramatic keep him from making a single meaningful attack in France in July?
    I don’t think so.
    Was his sense of pace and effort so good that he didn’t attack?
    I don’t think so.

    I agree with you in that the first thing I would like to see go away are the radios. The safety argument never made sense to me as guys still fall down. Maybe they should eliminate radios and just race on “feel”?

  2. Roger Lomshek

    I got my ass kicked so I want to ban whatever the other guy used to pace himself! WAAAAAAAAA

    I vote for banning cycle computers, HRM’s, support cars, feed zones and cheering by the fans as all of those help people win.

  3. jpete

    I get it though, the power meter, as Sky uses it, is an extension of their science department. They have a whole team of guys dedicated to figuring this stuff out – power numbers, heart rates, cadences, which drugs to use, when to turn on the electric motor, which guys to pay off, etc. Teams with smaller budgets can’t afford all that stuff. I think the strategy of having 5 of the best altered guys to help set the pace so high that 6 of the final 9 guys are all your guys is kind of lame to watch day after day. I would ban power meters, maybe HR monitors, definitely race radios. I would have to think the Badger, Merckx, Fignon (from atop a fluffy cloud somewhere), watch these races and revile the lack of panache. While the stage the other day had the drama of will the strategy pay off, soon, they will all be doing this. I dunno, I’ve only had three cups of coffee, I’m feeling grouchy.

  4. John H

    From a strictly back seat drivers perspective, I would like to see power meters stay in and not be displayed to the rider, but be mandatorily uploaded immediately after the race as a check against doping. I would think that might show some interesting statistics. There might be some loss in the mystery of exactly what kind of condition your competitor is in(“is he really tired or not?” a la RVV), but I think it would be worth it.

    And yes, please, can radios be removed?! That would be great.

  5. John H

    @fergie That actually sounds like a pretty exciting idea. Not that I watch that much car racing, but that would really lend a new depth to it.

  6. KrakatoaEastofJava

    It certainly was nice when the only data getting processed was that of which the rider saw with his own eyes, felt with his own legs and heard with his own ears. I can’t see myself calling for a ban on any technologies except for the radios, but I can certainly attest that bike racing was a LOT more fun before the integration of microelectronics into the mix.

  7. Bill K

    You might as well ban 8,9,10, and 11 cog cassettes……..and indexed shifting……(As a giveaway, they can use an Avocet model 20)

  8. Big E

    I’m going to respectfully disagree with you Steve. Froome stares at his power meter every ten seconds when the going gets hard. It drives me INSANE. It makes him more calculated in his approach, and how is that more exciting? Sky’s training and racing is sanitized… Don’t get me wrong. It’s a winning formula. Much like Postal/Discovery before them. But it certainly doesn’t make racing more engaging to watch. At least in my opinion. Watching racers live and die by their own physical and tactical skills is far more interesting to me than having someone stare at a screen to confirm they’re maintaining a wattage they now they can hold.

  9. Jim

    The question might be asked, how do you know what he is looking at? Just because he looks down (a lot) doesn’t mean that he is staring at the head unit of his power meter. He has zero style on a bike and maybe this is just one of the things he does.
    BTW, as far as we “know”, there was a major difference from the way Postal/Discovery did it. They were not staring at their stems for guidance. They used a different technique.

  10. Terri Thater

    Perhaps they wanted to deflect attention away from these amazing new entries in the top climbing times of Lagos de Covadonga:
    1. 2005: 32:22 Gilberto Simoni 22.62 km/h
    2. 2005: 32:27 Carlos Sastre 22.56 km/h
    3. 2000: 32:29 Roberto Heras 22.53 km/h
    4. 2005: 32:34 Denis Menchov 22.48 km/h
    5. 2005: 32:34 Roberto Heras 22.48 km/h
    6. 2016: 32:35 Nairo Quintana 22.47 km/h
    7. 2016: 33:00 Christopher Froome 22.18 km/h
    8. 2005: 33:01 Miguel Angel Perdiguero 22.17 km/h
    9. 2005: 33:01 Oscar Sevilla 22.17 km/h
    10. 2016: 33:03 Alejandro Valverde 22.15 km/h
    11. 2016: 33:03 Michele Scarponi 22.15 km/h
    12. 2000: 33:04 Carlos Sastre 22.14 km/h
    13. 2005: 33:06 Santos Gonzalez 22.11 km/h
    14. 2007: 33:15 Leonardo Piepoli 22.02 km/h
    15. 2007: 33:15 Denis Menchov 22.02 km/h
    16. 2007: 33:15 Carlos Sastre 22.02 km/h
    17. 2001: 33:21 Juan Miguel Mercado 21.95 km/h
    18. 2005: 33:26 Francisco Mancebo 21.89 km/h
    19. 2000: 33:27 Óscar Sevilla 21.88 km/h
    20. 2000: 33:29 Santos Gonzalez 21.86 km/h
    21. 2000: 33:31 Roberto Laiseka 21.84 km/h
    22. 2005: 33:35 Eladio Jimenez 21.80 km/h
    23. 2007: 33:37 Cadel Evans 21.77 km/h
    24. 2016: 33:37 Esteban Chaves 21.77 km/h
    25. 2016: 33:40 Alberto Contador 21.74 km/h

    But remember, only four of the top 7 on Wednesday’s stage have actually served doping suspensions. Can we call that progress since, er, the 2011 Vuelta? Maybe not since Froome rode faster today than his alien attacks with Cobo that year.

    So nothing to see here. It’s all new generation stuff.

  11. Wiley

    You honestly think that Froome isn’t looking at either heartrate or power data when he looks down? Nearly all pro riders are constantly staring at their headunits whenever they ride up these massive climbs. I’d argue that pacing yourself in cycling is a skill. If pacing is not a skill we want to test in the pro ranks of cycling by all means let them continue use their training wheels (powermeters, heartrate monitors, electric motors) whenever they see a big hill(:

  12. donkybhoy

    If anyone watched the race you will have noticed Froome on his race radio looking kinda panicked as the others rode away.

    I dont think Froome made the call about what to do, he was told by his DS what to do.

    But i agree, make riders race on feelings rather technology. And ban race radios. The DSs most of them raced and not many were GT winners.

    Stupid comment about going back to single speed bikes. It is supposed to be a sport based on athletic ability not technological settings.

  13. KrakatoaEastofJava

    I’d be OK with banning Di2. I think every movement on a bike should be powered by the rider (including the movement of the derailleur).

  14. Jim

    “You honestly think that Froome isn’t looking at either heartrate or power data when he looks down? Nearly all pro riders are constantly staring at their headunits whenever they ride up these massive climbs. I’d argue that pacing yourself in cycling is a skill. If pacing is not a skill we want to test in the pro ranks of cycling by all means let them continue use their training wheels (powermeters, heartrate monitors, electric motors) whenever they see a big hill(:”

    Read it again and try doing it without a preconceived notion.
    I didn’t say that he does or he does not, just asking how anyone can be so sure. There is but one person who knows and I would bet a lot of money that he isn’t reading this blog. There can be more than a few reasons to look downward.
    Whether he is looking at his stem or not has nothing to do with what is being debated here.
    In the end, what difference does it make? Chris Froome could stare at the sky all day long and I still couldn’t beat him up a climb. He has legs, heart, and lungs that I simply do not have.
    BTW does it really matter that, to you, pacing is a skill? The end result is, who crossed the line first and not how did they pace themselves.

  15. KrakatoaEastofJava

    Pretty soon, Brailsford will have the data live-fed to him and he’ll develop a volume-knob that lets him send instant instructions to Froome. Turn it and Froome will get a little vibration telling him either increase, maintain or decrease his pedaling effort. And there’s no reason to believe that this couldn’t already be happening.

  16. nancy

    you are supposed to look in front of you, so you don’the ride into the guy rear wheel or motorcycle. remember Porte/Groomed on Ventoux. then on radio asking if they could maintain the pace until the top.

  17. a_rider

    Grand tours are just boring. One day races are just so much more fun to watch because no one is worried about tomorrow or next week. Make me choose between either watching 6 hours of Paris Robaix or 20 days of the TDF and I’ll take PR any day.

    If they are going to ban anything, make it race radio. Case in point: Olympic RR

  18. euro

    I think Froome was feeling a bit of a reaction to his newest PED dosage and had to back off. Once it kicked in, watch out! Roid rage ala Floyd Landis. He’s as drugged up as the rest of them. No question.

  19. donkybhoy

    It is bike technology, whereas power meters are physical related technology.

    The discussion was about ‘racing on feeling’, how the body is doing.

  20. jpete

    I remember that either Disco or Radiosham were actually experimenting with ingested thermometers that would send a signal back to the team car so they could monitor core temperatures. It’s all too much. It’s turning into a DS driving a car, driving his remote-control bike racers. FWIW, I think a lot of times when Froome is pedaling at ludicrous speed, he’s looking down, not at the head unit, but listening to the motor to make sure it’s not too obvious. Actually the one stage, I think it was TDF stage 17 the year he won, it almost looks like he is actually surprised/nervous that maybe it was going faster than he anticipated. It was almost like bad acting, “phew, really working here!” it was pretty comical. Could sync it up to the Benny Hill soundtrack. OK, need my coffee.

  21. Larry T

    I’m with you! Just say NO to batteries! ANYTHING not powered directly by the rider’s efforts (electronic shifting, GPS, power-meter, radio, all of it) should be banned in the races. Play with ’em all you want in training but they’re banned in competition. Of course guys like Froome will throw up the “OK, this means we have to go back to one-speed and wooden wheels” trope but let’s remember SPORT is defined by inefficiencies. As in you have to pedal the bike (no motors, whether they’re electric ones hidden in the seat tube or 4 cylinder internal combustion engines bolted into the main frame triangle) so they’re primitive machines by definition. All the electronic gizmos add nothing to the sport – they’re merely more s__t to sell the punters who are convinced by seeing the pros use them that they gotta have one. It’s important to separate the bike industry from sport, a battle ol’ Henri Desgrange fought his entire life.

  22. Wiley

    “In the end, what difference does it make?”

    I’m making the argument that with the hr and power data in front of him pro cyclists aren’t actually in control of pacing themselves and climbs are becoming a practice of who can follow the numbers better. That isn’t what bike racing is all about is it? In my mind the ability to pace yourself is just as important of a skill of a rider (or any endurance athlete) as descending. Giving riders this information just takes another skill out of the game…

  23. Rob Arena

    I agree that race radios have really made the pro races much more predictable and I wish they would go away. I don’t see that happening, however.

    As for riding in a group I think the power meter and proliferation of coaching at all levels of cycling has really changed the sport. The training has become very workout and numbers specific. I see less and less pros and young 1 and 2 riders on many group rides. The Bustop ride here in Boulder has gotten to be a majority of riders age 40+ and 50+. I don’t think many of the neo pros have as much bar banging experience as they did in the past. The carbon wheels don’t help. More experience in cross winds, cross lapped wheels and riding in a group on the limit would help reduce crashes. That said the faster equipment and number of riders fighting to be at the front in the last 5K is doing nothing for reducing crashes.

  24. Rishi Grewal


    You all still watch this and believe? That BS reminds me of Lance saying you must believe.

    It is all false folks, yes they can ride fast and maybe the same guys would still win but the top 20 in nearly all high paid sports that require anything above chess skills uses PED’s..


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