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Power to the People?

Power to the People?

Power to the people? Maybe not.

Team Sky today released an amount of rider information relating the last 15km of Stage 10 of this years Tour de France. Stage 10 saw Froome put considerable distance between himself and his leading rivals. After coming under an increasing amount of scrutiny from several sections of the cycling community, Team Sky released some of Froome’s data analysis in order to alleviate questions raised about his performances.

Not long after the information was made public, people began to question the numbers, comparing Froome’s performance against additional data shared openly by other riders on the same stage who finished minutes behind Froome (who provided data showing a higher power output than Froome). Some have questioned Froome’s exact weight (an important figure when calculating riders’ performance), a figure that has fluctuated vastly over recent months and years.

Last week, experienced French data analyst Antoine Vayer obtained some of Froome’s data and it had been coupled with a video timeline sequence. Again, this produced varying reports of distrust amongst some quarters and seemed to be the catalyst in Sky releasing data at the press conference today.

Both Antoine and Ross Tucker (Science of Sport) have been heavily vocal on Twitter over recent months and years regarding riders power outputs and data. Rightly so – the cycling public have been let down by the endless doping controversies that have savaged our sport and deserve to see honest performances. Some question both Antoine’s and Ross’ attitudes but in our eyes they are experienced in this field and have a wealth of information and experience relating to data. I have personally seen Antoine’s files going back a number of years – rider data and ethical performances are his passion.

As more riders release their data and are pressured to do so, then more and more people will question the figures. This is science and it can often be overly complicated simply because there are so many factors to take into account when untangling the information. It’s easy for a non expert to make a quick judgement and unfortunately these judgements whether true or not can undermine an athletes reputation.

What Bike Pure would like to see is the data experts Antoine Vayer and Ross Tucker (Science of Sport), along with the pro teams and the UCI, working together for the good of the sport, sharing information and data. Data wouldn’t need to be publicly available, but all parties could work towards a concise, informed and collaborative solution to data and how it can be used in the prevention of doping or as a limiting factor or benchmark regarding future performances. Used in a similar way to the bio passport, power data could raise a ‘red flag’ when it eclipses a set value.

A combined panel of experts working with the likes of Team Sky, Chris Froome, the UCI and WADA would certainly help the sport improve on an ethical level. A panel could be established to provide judgements and thoughts on rider data which would help dismiss much of the doubt that exists today.

Power to the wrong people – no, power to the right people – yes.