Re: [CR]Yesterday's equipment in modern races

(Example: Framebuilding:Norris Lockley)

From: <>
To: (Classic Rendezvous)
Subject: Re: [CR]Yesterday's equipment in modern races
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 00:55:14 +0000

Jan has come up with some fanciful 'facts':
> Chuck, if you take the last 100 years, yes, the introduction of
> derailleurs alone made a difference. There were a few quantum leaps,
> and the times on various courses show that. But if we take the last
> 40 years, since 1965, you'll find much less improvements.
> I think the 1980s were instructive, because you saw the old equipment
> - whether Super Record or the first C-Record (all of which basically
> was mildly warmed-over 1960s Record equipment with a few minor
> improvements) - racing against the new-fangled indexed Dura-Ace.
> Click-shifting should provide a huge advantage, also cassette hubs
> and later STI. In fact, it did not, and more races were won on Campy
> because Campy sponsored the right guys.
> Or consider this: Rominger's hour record was faster than Indurain's,
> Rominger used the modern Shimano, yet it was Indurain who won 5 Tours
> (and only one or two on Ergo, if I remember correctly), Rominger
> none. In the very least, it shows that race results aren't too
> instructive.
> I firmly believe that Fausto Coppi, given some good EPO or whatever
> is the rage today, would equal or beat Lance on most stages - even on
> his old bike. Yes, he would have been limited in the finishing sprint
> by his gearing, but that is easy enough to change.
> While it is impossible to find the money to buy a good racer,
> randonneuring can be pretty competitive. And there, the results speak
> for themselves. If I felt that modern equipment would make me faster,
> I'd use it. I have tried it, but keep coming back to older stuff.

Truth be told, the only way you can compare most race times are in the pure 'speed' disciplines, where no strategy is involved. In a grand tour or one day race strategy has become far more important than in the past, so to compare results directly is virtually impossible. However:

Kilo race speeds have continually increased. I guarantee that the 2004 Olympics 4th place finisher will have a time faster than the winner at the 1960 games. Maximum sprint speeds in races have continually increased, to the point where the riders are reaching speeds deemed impossible even in descents 40 years ago! Maximum downhill speeds in tucked position have increased (no pedalling). Braking distances when approaching hairpin corners in descents have continually decreased. You can verify this in old newsreels. Cornering grip of tires has increased in indirect corellation to the number of flats suffered. None of these are opinions, all are directly measurable with scientific devices. So contrary to what Jan imagines: modern equipment has had a measurable positive impact on racing and there is no way that a 40 year-old bike would be competitive in pro racing. Furthermore, today's tires are substantially better than the very best from the past.

Eddy Merckx's scientifically measured lung capacity, KW output and heart recuperation were all far superior to those of Rominger and Indurain. Both of these however beat his hour record distance. Coppi was one of the first riders to implement then 'modern' diet and training methods and his results showed the difference. The same thing is happening today with Armstrong and others.

Steven Maasland
Moorestown, NJ