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How Important Is FTP To A Professional Cyclist?

How Important Is FTP To A Professional Cyclist?


here at GCN we’ve got several videos about how to improve your ftp, your functional threshold power, which is the power that you can sustain around about an hour but just how important is ftp to cycling performance and could you be a professional road cyclist is without a very high functional threshold power at the interesting question probably a complicated topic I so what I suggest Matt is that we go and discuss it at a bar can we have a coffee ftp is one thing that we also talked a lot about power to weight ratio the higher that ratio is the better the climber you’re going to be so to take some current examples like Chris Froome Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana have enormously high functional threshold powers but they also weigh next to nothing that’s why they are world-class climbers so then what about the riders with the biggest FTP’s in the universe riders like Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin who’ve got FTP’s bigger and higher than Chris Froome so the question is why don’t those guys win the Tour De France? Well the answer is because they’re too heavy or is it really simple as that or perhaps not because both Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara at their very best have proven in the past they can sometimes keep up with the best climbers in the world on a single mountain. However what they do seem to struggle with is replicating that over multiple mountains on back-to-back days so it seems like the extra weight they’re carrying up those climbs compared their adversaries and therefore the enormous power they’re having to put out to get up there with them takes a bit more out of them and it’s a bit more to recover from the recovery is a key component for striking to not only you need to be able to recover between mountains but also between days and stages as well if you get any hope of ever winning the grand tour is more complex than that you need good endurance to yes you do so there are riders in this world who’ve never made it to a professional level they do have a very high functional threshold power and they don’t weigh very much set them off with the best riders in the world at the bottom of a single climb and they’ll probably do very respectively there are thereabouts however ask them to do exactly the same thing at the end of a four hour race or two and a half weeks of intense racing a grand tour and they probably wont fair quite so well so you need to be able to have the ability to reduce close to or on your functional threshold power even after he’s already complete some very hard racing and that is not something that many people can do so where does that leave the sprinters the likes of Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel for example with their ftp and power-to-weight ratios are relatively low when compared to the finest climbers and time trialists in the world but compare them to the best amateurs in the world and actually they compared it favorably in fact their ftp still have to be world class if they’re ever going to be in a position to use their sprint at the end of a race.
– Exactly i mean you don’t win a race like Milan San Remo unless you can produce a very high power for a decent period of time and in fact both of those riders are capable of producing good performances in shorter time trials and prologues. Kittel in fact was a double world champion of the junior in the time trial discipline and Mark Cavendish and had lots of great results in prologues and short time trials and also you don’t get to the end of the Tour de France and be able to sprint on the Champs-Élysées unless you have a decent level of FTP, so perhaps the characteristics of a really good road sprinter is the innate ability to put themselves into the red and then still deliver an effective sprint at the end of the race probably for periods under 10 minutes let’s say they’re able to produce higher percentage of the ftp than a good time trialist or climber and as we’ve already said they wouldn’t be winning any races if they didn’t possess a very good ftp if you could win races on the road without it the likes of Chris Hoy or Robert Forstemann would have forged incredible road careers because their peak sprint power is in fact quite a lot higher than that of Mark Cavendish or Marcel Kittel no those guys road sprinters only look like bad climbers when they’re compared to the very best of the world has to offer and finally we have the Puncheurs like the Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaert those guys might not necessarily be able to sprint with the best sprinters, time trial with the bes time trialists or climb with the purest climbers but what they do have is a superhuman ability to deliver power on short climbs yeah these beasts have the biggest disconnect between their functional threshold powers and the power they’re able to produced over short climbs and maybe one to five minutes in duration they are anaerobic monsters not only have they got an amazing ability to go into the red they can do and multitude of occasions over the course of a single race and and this in fact is kind of what made the Olympic road race in 2016 so fascinating ‘cus really Greg Van Avermaert on paper should not have been able to win that race with the climbs involved however, on the form of his life he was a able to dig deep, go into the red stay with some of the best climbers in the world and then easily out sprint them at the end so exactly how important then is FTP to road cycling performance well I think we’ve shown it really depends on what you want to be good at for a climber or a time-triallist it’s incredibly important but they also need the powers of recovery and endurance too and if you want to be good at short climbs or sprints, you’re still going to need a really good FTP in order to use that strength in the first place otherwise you are not going to get to the finish of the race or you’re going to get there too fatigued to use your strength Track racing on the other hand is a completely different beast altogether and the subject perhaps for another video yeah I think we’ll leave that because this discussion has been incredibly long and we’re running out, it’s gone, it’s dark talking of videos and not missing any Global Cycling Network videos how about subscribing to the channel it’s absolutely free if you haven’t done so already tell your mates then you won’t miss another video do that by clicking on the globe. Two more videos for you to watch now with all this talk about FTP, you’ll probably want to know how to improve yours you can find that by clicking in this corner just down here on the other hand, if you want to see Mark Cavendish giving me tips on sprinting click just there Ooh, look at that. It’s like a Hologram with a video in front of me absolutely nuts

100 comments on “How Important Is FTP To A Professional Cyclist?

  1. Guessing Matt and Dan aren't too concerned with their FTP to weight ratios; just watch the pile of pastries on the table slowly disappear.

  2. In New England, where I live and race, few of our road races have climbs that last longer than 5 minutes. And U.S. criterium and cyclocross racing is all about accelerating out of corners all out — hitting perhaps over 1000w for a few pedal strokes — and then freewheeling (and drafting, for criteriums) and setting up for the next corner. This makes me think that bike racing (at least when you don't live in an area with 20+ minute climbs) js not an aerobic sport, but a sport that's all about going anaerobic and then recovering, over and over again. Of course you need your aerobic system to recover. But I wonder if my mates who 'train' by doing lots of long steady efforts at 200-300w are making a mistake. On road race climbs, we're usually well over our FTP by a solid amount by the crest, going anaerobic and generating lots of lactic acid. And in crits and 'cross, we're constantly oscillating between 800+w and 0w, with very little steady pedaling. I'm not sure I ever once put in a steady effort around my FTP in my whole last season of racing.

  3. I've seen versions of this table floating about. https://cyclingtips.com/2009/07/just-how-good-are-these-guys/ Very useful for those aspiring to a goal. For example, I currently weight 200lbs and have a 260w FTP, that puts me at about 2.88 w/kg or a mid – Fair Cat 5 level rider. I'm carrying some excess fat (probably about 20% BF) so figure I can within 6 months get down to say 185lbs and up FTP by 15% to get me to 3.88 w/kg or a mid – Good Cat 3 level rider.

  4. Your next video should be about the pro's FTPs or even the GCN cast and crews FTP…. That would be very interesting indeed 👌

  5. Where would you fit Alejandro Valverde? as a Puncheur?
    That have been an intriguing question for me for a long time, it's quite strange find some rider with the capacity to shine equally in one day races as in the general classification of a grand tour

  6. The REAL reason why this video took so long to record is because Dan had to keep stopping to re-style his hair.. oh no wait. I also hope that wasnt the same coffee throughout!

  7. Great video – it would be interesting to hear the numbers for the riders you mentioned (both FTP and power to weight) – are you able to give any?

  8. FTP is defined as the maximum power someone can sustain for an hour.  All of the races that you mention in your video exceed an hour.  FTP may not be the unit of measure we should be using for these type of athletes.  Maybe we need something else.  Weighing a loaf of bread in grams makes sense, but weighing a person in grams doesn't.

  9. I tried the Zwift FTP builder, I recommended indeed I increase my FTP in 15% after 6 weeks and with short rides around 1 hr every evening. Good, simply and clear explanation

  10. #AskGCN Where would Peter Sagan fit into the categories that you have set out in this video? I don't view him as a pure sprinter, and would be curious to see how he fits. I would also be interested in what that means for him this year with how BORA-Hansgrohe will set him up for races with his team. Thanks!

  11. this is exactly what all these weekend warriors and amateur racers don't get 'but I could do that too'. we're not professionals for a reason. we're just not good enough. I wish everyone could understand this…

  12. what about a video on what each specialization should work on? like a climber should do some FTP training, some intervals and a lot of work on recovery etc. that would be an interesting video

  13. TrainingPeaks released Greipel's power data for the Tour of Flanders last year. I worked backwards with the numbers and came to the conclusion that if his weight was correct his FTP at the time was 5W/kg. While this isn't close to Froome's supposed ~6.5W/kg most non-racers have a hard time holding 3W/kg. When I was training hard (very structured training, tons of sweet spot intervals) my FTP was 4.5W/kg. And I'm an extremely crappy sprinter. That means Greipel still would have destroyed me in a climbing race.

  14. I wonder if there is an extra category for riders like Steve Cummings, who destroys a chasing peloton, soloing to an epic victory twice a year? … the rest of the year he is barely seen on camera xD …just an impression…

  15. Pronounciation hint for Lloydy: Marcel Kittel is not pronounced like "Kit-tell", the "e" is (quite) silent. So you'd better call him "Kittle".

  16. Examples Pleas. Show us some numbers on the best guys in the world in their respective area and on the average Pro tour rider. 10s – 3min – FTP and weight.

  17. Maybe it's like with sprinters in athletics. Different riders have better performance from different muscle-type fibres eg. Cavnedish with fast-twitch fibres good for sprinting.

  18. you know when you walk off the beach and there comes a point when your togs become undies and you're out in public in your undies? That just happened to you guys in your cycling gear – what are those guys doing in a bar drinking coffee in their cycling gear…?!

  19. FTP is a number on that day,that is all,next week maybe you can get that number,form,recovery,not feeling it,i am 46 did an ftp test on zwift last week 288,but have no endurance,so need to do more Z2 i guess,i can dig deep for short periods but a long ride would struggle,what are you training for,long race,short tt,long climbs,long distance.

  20. #askGCN Does Matt's jersey have stripes on the sleeves and collar for his British National Championship? Or is there another reason?

  21. For climbers, is all about Watts per kilo.   The FTP of lighter riders is lower, but usually lighters riders can reach a higher w/kilos.   For flats FTP,, for hills W/kilo.

  22. that pic on the right at 3:57 has been photoshopped, surely? If not then I suspect that guy is descended from a T-Rex!

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