Sorry for coming late to this but I just can't resist. In my opinion, using what pro riders ride as a barometer of progress is misguided. It's been stated all too many times. Riders ride what they are paid to ride. Manufacturers make things to sell. Manufacturers sponsor riders to sell the stuff they make. Are we still together here? Average race times have gone down. Is it logical to say that it's due to equipment advances? No. Is it logical to say it's not due to equipment advances? No. But it is logical to assume the truth is somewhere in the middle. There's no doubt that components have changed and change often spurs new sales and that's good. The biggest "advances" has been the training "regimes" i.e. drugs. I know we all heard this. My nameless source, a former pro, told me that in the early days of EPO the average speeds of typical climbs in the mountains dropped 3-5 kph from the year before the drug's widespread use. This pro refused to take the stuff and he was off the back. He was riding the same bikes as everyone else so I'd say it's logical to conclude the drug was probably the reason for this "advance." Of course, I'm a cynical builder of obsolete bikes so take this with a grain of salt.