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The Tour Dominators. Why?(4 posts)

The Tour Dominators. Why?Sintesi
Jul 25, 2002 4:40 AM
Why do we have such dominate men in Tour competition. Do you think this is unique to the sport of cycling and/or similar sports? I can think of more than a few examples. Why do some people and their teams get the winning formula right over and over again? With so much competition you wouldn't think this possible.
What is that allows some men/women to constantly rise to the top?

Me Dot Org had posted this, which I though was well said:

"Take 5 Tours de France: Nearly 5 months of competition stretched across half a decade and over 10,000 miles, hundreds of riders, flats, crashes, not to mention team tactics and the individual ability. It would all seem to conspire against anyone person dominating the event. And yet Armstrong is the only the latest in a series of dominators: Antiquel, Merckx, Hinault, Indurain - each decade in the last half century seems to produce a rider capable of dominating all other riders on the tour. In the 44 years since 1957, the tour has been won 26 times - more than half - by men who have won 3 or more Tours. Twenty times men who have won 5 tours have won it. (If Armstrong were to win this year and next, the tour would have been won 25 times in 46 years by 5 men.)
On the surface, one would think that the distance, sacrifice, and yes, luck, involved in winning the Tour would preclude so many multiple winners.

But if you stand that logic on its head, you see that it is the very nature of the tour, the fact that it is the supreme test not only of cycling ability but perseverance and character, which makes those who are truly great rise to the top time after time."
An assumption in your question...Wayne
Jul 25, 2002 5:06 AM
is that there are a large number of persons capable of dominating a sport. In reality there's probably very few with the requisite physiologic traits/potential to dominate. Take something more obvious such as sprinting, do you think Zabel and Cipollini, etc. win bunch sprints because they have some training technique that allows them to sprint the fastest after riding for 3-6 hours and that anybody with the right motivation could do what they do? Clearly there is something in their physiologic make-up that allows them to achieve these results. That doesn't mean that training is insignificant (or else the same guys would always win and clearly race to race/year to year guy's form varies) and you can't discount motivation. But you can probably be pretty sure all the training/motivation in the world wouldn't turn Armstrong into a Cipollini or vice versa. Those are clearly the limit cases, so are obvious but probably there's only 20 guys or so with the physiologic capability of winning a GT in all of pro-cycling just like there's only about 20 guys who can take out a bunch sprint.
re: The Tour Dominators. Why?fcebedo
Jul 25, 2002 9:32 AM
My guess is success breeds success.
-Once you win you elevate your motivation and mental strength to the next level
-Once you win, you attract the best team to help you win again.
-Once you win, you attract the money to get you the best bikes, the best staff, the flexibility to train where the race is held
-Once you win your country rallies around you and that's pretty cool.

These are x-factors but in such a long, grueling race I'd say they help.


p.s. A similar pattern happens in racing, like Grand Prix racing. The best equipment is key and it usually goes to the winners.
re: The Tour Dominators. Why?atpjunkie
Jul 26, 2002 1:41 PM
it's a combo of physiology and discipline. Merckx, Big Mig and Lance all have exceptional (beyond most elite atheletes) lung capacities and low heart rates (Sub 40 bpm resting). You have to have the physical make up, % of slow to fast twitch muscle, Lactate transport and threshold, Vo2 Max etc... to have the base to build up a dominator. So if a cyclist has this building block set by nature and the discipline and drive to optimize it...voila Tour Dominator. Some cyclists are built for sprints (heaps of fast twitch fibre but blow on a long hard drive or climb), some can't sprint but can climb are usually diminutive with great capacity for oxygen transport.
So not everyone can be a tour contender, some can dominate the classics, some the stages and some the sprints. It's what keeps cycling interesting, that there is more than one way to be a champion.