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Friday Tech Tidbits: Banning power meters at Tour de France, Polar Vantage now shipping, new COROS APEX GPS watch

Here’s your (occasional) round-up of Friday randomness within the sports tech world. These are items that I felt I wanted to provide a bit more commentary/detail on than just a quick one-liner note in my usual Week in Review post, while not really viable for an entire dedicated post.

Power Meter Ban at Tour de France?

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Yesterday ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) announced their 2019 route for the Tour de France, as they usually do this time of year. The route and the various aspects of it is fully covered here by Cycling Tips. Instead, I want to focus on a tidbit left by the Tour de France Race Director Christian Prudhomme, who stated in both his closing remarks as well as to reporters (via CyclingNews.com) the following comments:

“Power meters are very useful in training but when riders use them in a race it means they know exactly what kind of efforts they need to make – for how long and at this or that level. But if a rider wasn’t sure that he still had enough strength, that would change things.”

“Getting rid of earpieces wouldn’t change much. Not having earpieces could be useful to avoid having crashes, that’s sure, but the battle today is focused far more on power meters than on earpieces.”

“We reassert our desire to see the end of power meters in races, which annihilate the glorious uncertainty of sport.”

Frankly, this line of reasoning is bizarre.

But not for the reasons you might think.

First off, most pros in the Tour de France (TdF) aren’t actually using power meters to pace their efforts in the various stages, especially catching up to other groups like implied in many cases. That decision is made entirely based on larger aspects in the race at that point in time. The only exception to this is time trial stages, of which only number 1-2 stages per race in a grand tour like the Tour de France. The fact that Mr. Prudhomme believes pros are using them mid-race to decide whether to bridge a gap calls into question his understanding of how pro cyclists compete in the very event he’s putting on.  Riders are using time-gaps from motos and race radio to determine their next moves, not power meters.

Most of the power meter usage in a grand tour like the TdF is actually more about collecting data to use for historical trending and to then understand what a given athlete is capable of doing, either in individual or group efforts. Every team in the UCI WorldTour is riding with power meters (here’s my guide for this year), and virtually every rider in the Tour de France is as well. Additionally, organizations like Velon utilize the data to show spectators in real-time (which the UCI and the TdF have previously argued increases fan engagement).

Secondly, if UCI (or the Tour de France) were actually serious about anti-doping and anti-cheating efforts, there’s arguably no better thing to do than requiring athletes to utilize and then publish power meter data (to a confidential platform is fine). Power meter data along with a racers weight has long been used to validate whether a given effort is considered viable without doping (drugs) or cheating (motors).  So the removal of such devices really serves no realistic goal except to help cover things up even more.

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But what about Mr. Prudhomme’s point that power meters “annihilate the glorious uncertainty of sport”?

C’mon now – anyone who’s been involved in major stage races (or any pro race) knows that the single biggest thing they could do to instigate more excitement would be to take away race radios.  For those not familiar, race radios are small wireless radios worn by the riders that allow them to communicate with their team.

Typically, that’s to the team support vehicles (usually two in the race caravan, plus others like those in feed zones).  In addition, it’s also to race officials. The main ‘Race Radio’ is where the race organizers and officials give status updates and request for service/assistance. This can include safety related warnings as well.  Generally speaking, a support team will listen on both the race radio channel as well as their own ‘private’ channel (it’s not technically private, but more like dedicated).

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If the goal is to increase excitement, simply disband the team-specific radio communications. Leave only the official race radio channel for updates relating to safety (and perhaps service requests). Boom, problem solved. Now it’s up to the racers to actually race, rather than just follow a constant stream of guidance from the team vehicles.  Even the Tour de France’s own technical director admits as such.  Thierry Gouvenou, remarked at that event when asked about the change:

“I’m realizing more and more that people want a less controlled, less predictable style of racing. The public wants a kind of cycling where the riders are the main actors, not the directeurs sportifs or the equipment”

“Everybody needs to realize that it could be good for cycling in general. We could try some stages with power meters or without earpieces – why not? – to give value to the riders once again, to reward tactical invention”

To see just how critical race radios are in a race from a team management, watch this video I put together back in January at the Tour Down Under (longer post here) – when FDJ’s race radio starts to go on the fritz, hosing up their strategy:

So no, removing power meters won’t make the Tour de France more exciting. But removing non-essential race radio communication certainly will.

COROS Apex Watch:

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Next, we’ve got a new watch from COROS in the pipeline – the COROS APEX. This multisport GPS watch is designed to build upon the COROS Pace GPS watch they released earlier this year.  That’s when the company made the expansion from selling smart connected helmets like the COROS Linx (which I personally use) and COROS Omni.

The APEX aims to add more training metrics than the Pace, specifically around training load and recovery, with metrics like VO2Max and fitness index as well.  In talking to the company, they aren’t developing these metrics themselves, but rather working with a partner. Though, said partner isn’t Firstbeat – so that does question some of these metrics a little bit, and certainly it’ll be something I’ll be looking at in more detail once I have a unit.

(Of course, companies can develop these types of metrics themselves. For example, Polar does so, but Polar’s been around a number of decades and their employees are legit sport scientists who work on this stuff. Garmin, Suunto, and countless others leverage partners with this level of expertise instead. I don’t care who a company leverages, as long as there’s at least some street cred with said company.)

The most notable physical change to the APEX over the Pace is probably the button configuration. The Pace had a pretty traditional four-button layout, akin to most endurance/multisport devices from Garmin/Suunto/Polar (that usually have five).  But for the APEX, the company has gone with a two button-ish design. I say ‘ish’, because it’s one button plus one ‘digital crown’ (called a ‘digital knob’ by COROS).  This basically matches the Apple Watch. Except for the fact that the Apple Watch is also a touchscreen device, and the APEX is not.

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I’m willing to hold my fire until I get hands-on with the device, but I’m struggling to see how this would be efficient in either endurance sports or high-intensity scenarios.  But again, maybe it’s so totally out of left field that it’ll work even better.

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Next, unlike their past unit the APEX will allow swappable wristbands as well.  That seems to be the general trend among sports tech companies, after they’ve realized over the past few years that not everybody likes the same bands. So good news there.

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Finally – the unit comes in both a small and medium size – 42mm and 46mm. No surprise there, that’s akin to what other companies are doing with offering smaller sized units. It’s offered in white, black, and silver.  It includes a barometric altimeter and compass, as well as an internal optical HR sensor.

I’ve generally had good luck with the COROS Pace (even in the last couple of months, save one poor-GPS accuracy swim a few weeks ago). There’s still some odd quirks with the underlying data processing they do, but it’s getting better.

The current plan is for APEX to start shipping in later November, and is priced at $349 – which may still be a tough pitch in this hyper-competitive multisport watch environment. But I’m glad to see they didn’t try and price it at $399 or higher – as that would have been a non-starter.

The company says they’ll be getting me a watch in the coming weeks to dive into more deeply. So stay tuned there!

(Note: All imagery in this section is from the COROS website.)

Polar Vantage Shipping:

Finally, we’ll wrap up with a quickie – the Polar Vantage series is now shipping. Polar started shipping units to customers and retailers yesterday, as well as of noon today they are making units available at the Frankfurt Marathon expo.

I know for folks in the US for example, retailers were sent their shipments yesterday and today, set to arrive today and early next week (and then from there those retailers will send shipments to customers per their respective orders/place in line/etc…). That’s also mirrored in Europe from what I understand.

As for my review, it’ll likely be mid-late November. While I’ve got plenty of data from the Polar Vantage series over the last two months, as usual I like to focus as much data as possible on the final software/hardware versions. I received the final hardware yesterday of the Vantage V (my understanding is that there wouldn’t be any hardware-specific changes with respect to accuracy of GPS/Optical HR, rather – those are coming/came via software updates).

Polar had last said early November for when they would start shipping, so that’s roughly how I plan device usage. As you saw this week, I’d been using the Apple Watch Series 4 lately to get that review out the door – and then the Garmin Instinct in the weeks before for that review. Only so many wrists, with others like the Fitbit Charge 3 and Garmin Vivosmart 4 in-depth reviews also waiting in the wings.

In any case – stay tuned! Also, I’m sure folks will be dropping their experiences with the watches in the sprawling comments section of my Polar Vantage post (and Polar is monitoring/posting/replying to comments there too).

With that – have a good weekend! Though, you might get one more in-depth trainer review from me later today. Then more trainer reviews early next week wrapping up the month on October 31st with my 2018 Trainer Recommendations guide. I’ve been on a trainer roll the last few weeks!

Thanks for reading!

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60 Comments

  1. Andrew Knox

    Please … let the GPS be okay on the Vantage…

  2. Thomas Esbensen

    POWER METER BAN AT TOUR DE FRANCE
    I guess it makes the biggest different on climbs and time trials, where some riders pace themselves via power data. However, on a climb, smarter riders should learn to use the vertical speed (Team Sky and others should also be able to figure out how to compensate this number by current grade, wind speed, etc… to provide a very good power estimate or indicator). On time trials, I guess that heart rate data is useful.
    I don’t like the idea of baning power meters. Better get ride of radio messages execept for safety critical information.

  3. Rodrigo Valle Teixeira

    I think there is a very simple reason for the power meter ban:
    Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin are two of the very few to rely heavily on their power meters when they attack solo. You can clearly see they both slowly reel in escapees with a steady, constant effort, always looking at their power.
    Both are foreign. Both are not French. So they must be stopped. For the glory of La Republique!

    • No doubt that there’s an element of not liking Team Sky – but I seriously question how much Froome is actually looking at his power number versus just looking down as simply his way of dealing with the pain.

      Three years ago he was asked this very question by Cycling Weekly*:

      “I’m not just staring at my power meter when my head goes down. My gaze is a little bit lower,” Froome explained. My neck gets tired. I’ve a very rounded upper back and I find my neck gets tired. I find it’s easier for me to breathe, I can get more oxygen when my head is lower down.”

      *https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/racing/tour-de-france/chris-froome-explains-his-head-down-riding-style-184455

    • Remco Verdoold

      That’s why the 2019 route has no big time trail and should suite the French rider best. They will eat onions for weeks in august 2019 when again a non-french rider has won the TdF.

      I think power meters are not the key thing to ban to make the race more attractive. Skip those radio pieces that will do. And for safety, non-sense reason. Just have an LED installed on the bike which blinks red if there is a problem ahead. Like in the Dakar race!

    • Andrew E

      Not sure where you get that info. Froome is rarely actually looking at his PM and DUmoulin doesn’t even use one for time trials.

    • shoreline view

      I really hope Froome sees a good DPT (doctor of physical therapy), or else a mixed-methods chiropractor who’s also qualified at a high level in physical and sports therapy (Lord knows, not a “straight” chiropractor — those guys wouldn’t help a bit). If he leaves it until after his career he’s going to find older page painful and debilitating. Speaking as a spectator it’s honestly a bit painful to watch.

    • Jack

      Thanks for posting this article. As a non racer and a newer cyclist (4 years), I am just learning the benefits of training with power. As an avid fan of world tour racing, I worry it has become too controlled and situations like the calculated effort and eventual breakaway like Froome had in the Giro might become the norm. As dramatic and impressive as it was, clearly it was an effort planned in advance with specific power and caloric needs addressed and adhered to. Is there a concern this could lay the blueprint for future races?

  4. Colin

    I think the Prudhomme is making reference to the racing in the mountains. Take a long alpine climb; typically one team sets a fast tempo at the front and riders drop off the back of the group. Those remaining can see the power they are having to generate to remain in that group. That is what dictates whether they can attack or not. They know their FTP, they know how far over that they can go for how long and what the consequences of that are. Attacking too early/strongly on a climb is therefore not going to work so they wait. The more riders able to pull hard at the front means the longer the others have to wait. You could argue that training sufficiently with a power meter means that riders will get a much better “feel” for what is possible without the actual numbers in front of them. I’m not convinced a ban would achieve much.

  5. Tim j

    Let’s bring back Lance… TDF has gone nutz so let’s make it a spectacle Ala… Tour de pharmacy

    Next up is banning chamois cause makes the riders to conformable

  6. Myria

    “Generally speaking a support team will listen on both the radio radio channel […]”

    Race radio?

  7. marklemcd

    Ray, you reference first beat like you believe their stuff is legit. Can I ask why?

    I have had a number of garmin watches and the stuff that is powered by first best has bean absolute garbage at best. In the past month alone my vo2max number has fluctuated nearly daily between 60 and 66. The training status constantly goes between unproductive, productive and peaking. The calories burned is absolute garbage since it’s base on heart rate (an 8 mile run at 7:50 pace will not burn 200 less calories than one at 7:00 pace), etc.

    So why should I be worried about coros? Seems like they have a pretty low bar to clear to have more believable info than first beat.

    • Generally speaking I’ve had pretty good luck with Firstbeat stuff matching both my tested Vo2Max levels (after it stabilizes, which Firstbeat notes is about 2-4 weeks of data), as well as for non-VO2 data, it matches things like stress levels and training load pretty well.

      Now, the caveat there is that if you have bad optical HR data feeding into that (be it due to a bad sensor, mismatch with you as a person, etc…), then that’ll be crap. Crap in and crap out.

      I haven’t seen much negative commentary from really anyone (consumers or industry folks) on FirstBeat. Lots of studies and whitepapers behind what their doing.

    • Marios

      I could not agree more with @marklemcd.

      I have also found Firstbeat metrics not to be trusted whatsoever. The VO2max and associated race estimates are complete garbage (for me at least) and the recoveries suggested (36h not uncommon) too.

      Moreover what I really dislike about the Firstbeat approach is that the metrics are immutable. Meaning they cannot be recalculated/re-calibrated/adjusted after the fact on the cloud (Garmin’s, Suunto’s or whatnot). For example when I get my VO2max estimated at Runalyze.com (and or course initially it gets it wrong too) at the very least I can go enter a calibration factor and have all my previous performance metrics readjusted which is really helpful in actually predicting my expected race times.

      A watch having Firstbeat on board has zero significance to me in making a purchase decision and I am actually excited that both Polar and Coros are going their own way. As a reference, I run between 70-90mi a week on peak Marathon season.

    • marklemcd

      I’ll preface this by saying I am not being critical of your review approaches.

      That said I wonder if living in flatter areas like you do throws off your assessments of firstbeat stuff. I live in the SF Bay Area so I run on a lot of hills and trails. I’ve been using the 935 for 16 months, so I am not in the adjustment period. I see three things happen all the time and firstbeat gets totally confounded by it.

      1) Normal weather morning flat run (50 degrees, lowish humidity), I get told my vO2max is 66 and that I can run a sub 2:30 marathon which is laughable.
      2) After doing 1 for a while we get some humid days or I run at lunch instead of the morning. Now my pace for the HR gets “worse” and my vO2max goes down.
      3) After doing 1 during the week, it’s the weekend I head to the hills. First beat is stupid and doesn’t take elevation into account and suddenly my vO2max goes down again.

      And again, this doesn’t account for the stupidity that I can run 7:50 pace on the same route for the same distance (thus producing the same power) and it can tell me my calorie output is vastly different. HR is not predictive of calorie burn in that manner.

      So I agree they have lots of white papers. So do a lot of companies. But it doesn’t work in real world normal use cases. My 3 above are not edge cases.

    • I didn’t see much of an issue when I lived in Paris and ran hills in terms of that. I will say that in general I see the training load bits more beneficial than the recovery bits (at least until there’s more data given to the algorithms).

      As far as race estimates go, that’s actually a really simple formula via published VDOT values from the Cooper Institute, and it’s public too and what everyone else uses [I tried to find the link, but at the moment my Google-Fu skills are low, it used to be at the back of Garmin running watch manuals. In the meantime, this thread on the Garmin forums discusses lots of race pace and VO2Max related quirks/tidbits with FirstBeat folks jumping in answering questions. link to forums.garmin.com

      Part of the challenge is if you have a high VO2Max, but don’t have the training load behind it to support the race paces it’s given.

      Where it can go askew is if you get a bad VO2Max value. I’d be curious if you looked at the HR’s for those runs where VO2Max goes wonky, what the HR data looked like. Was it good, valid? Sick, etc..? Obviously, if your HR data is abnormally high for the paces compared to normal, then that’ll skew things.

      My understanding is elevation is taken into account for VO2Max, in fact, that’s the specific reason they didn’t do VO2Max initially indoors on treadmills I don’t know if that’s still the case these days off-hand).

      “this doesn’t account for the stupidity that I can run 7:50 pace on the same route for the same distance (thus producing the same power)”

      Actually, this part isn’t true. Running power (whichever wonky way one wants to define it), is almost always driven more heavily by running form/efficiency than brute force power (which is very much unlike cycling). Now, if you run the same course and the HR is the same and the pace is the same, you should be getting the same VO2Max value.

    • Note, I’m definitely not saying it’s perfect – certainly not. But I also haven’t seen anything better from anyone out there (or even approaching better).

    • Dan Hunter

      I was under the impression that vo2max wasn’t calculated on trail runs as it wasn’t accurate, this is why there is a separate “trail run” profile.

      That info did come from garmin forums 6 odd months ago so may not be accurate any more.

      As for firstbeat stuff, mine has always been fairly accurate when viewed as intended.

    • gingerneil

      Link to the forum failed for me. Try this…
      link to forums.garmin.com

    • DC D.

      Had my 235’s Vo2Max drop from 57 to 53 after one long trail run… this is after almost 3 years of data… then when back on the road the next day goes back up to 54 then 55 etc….Polar data over the years has been more consistent…

    • Paul

      Firstbeat data on Garmin is useless most of the time. Over last 1.5 years running with Garmin 935 I didn’t have a single easy run that would be even close to “0” (corresponding to my current estimated VO2Max) performance condition. It’s always worse, most of the cases my estimated VO2Max drops too. I had my stress tests done on the treadmill and on a track so I know my HR zones and my easy runs pace.

      What firstbeat data tells you is: if you want to improve your performance do intervals training 7 days a week. Not accurate.

    • Andrew M

      1. An accurate MaxHR datapoint is required to generate an accurate VO2Max. The default 220 minus age formula may be the average for the population as a whole, but it is rubbish at predict the MaxHR of any one individual. Even autodetect of maxHR is problematic, as most athletes do not routinely go above 96-98% of max. Unless you have a good idea of what your true MaxHR is, the VO2Max prediction will be off. If you don’t know your true maximum, it is worth doing an MaxHR field test.

      2. There is an implicit assumption in the VO2Max algorithm that oxygen consumption increases in line with HR – and for the most part this holds true. However, thermoregulation is an exception to this. In cold conditions, the body restricts blood flow away from skin and limbs, to preserve body heat for the vital organs in the head and torso. In warm/humid conditions, the body directs blood to the surface of the skin, so that heat can escape. In warm conditions, your HR will be higher, as the heart works harder to circulate blood faster, even if oxygen consumption is unchanged from a cooler run at the same pace. If you are going to run in warm conditions, perhaps log it as a Trail Run (where VO2Max isn’t calculated).

      3. The VO2Max algorithm DOES take altitude change into account. However, it does not take into account the fact that your body is working harder on an uneven trail surface to dodge rocks, tree roots, etc. ie. pace alone is no longer an indicator of effort. Again, in these situations, log it as a Trail Run to avoid distorted VO2Max calculatuons.

    • Dan G

      On my 645 I enjoy the Firstbeat metrics. They tend to match what I know is the truth from several VO2 and blood la tests (through research trials). Seeing nice aerobic or anaerobic benefit numbers is rewarding, and the trend of the Training Load is either a reward or a kick up the pants :-).

      Sometimes the optical HR has a bad day and the data is wonky but I don’t sweat it.

    • Mike

      My experience with the F935 is that if I run hard on the flat one day my reported VO2max invariably goes up a couple of points, and then two days later, after a few hilly runs, down it falls! If it takes into account altitude it doesn’t do very well. I have had 18 months running with it now. My max FC and lactate threshold FC are more or less right I think. Your point about cold weather is well made – I noticed it again running in the cold this morning. I suspect we take these metrics far too seriously.

    • jiujitsuPhD

      The firstbeat metrics on garmin do not work very well and there are many problems with them…

      1. Training status – Only works for outside runs with GPS and cycling with GPS, HR, and Power. Firstbeat tells me this isn’t the case and they work for everything…but I will do a 1 hr run on treadmill 5 days in a row including rowing, indoor biking (where randomly vo2 max wasn’t taken) and it will go to unproductive. Trainingpeaks, strava, and golden cheetah all show my fitness as improving a lot and all 3 disagree with firstbeat. This is not uncommon either. In the garmin forums there is complaint after complaint about the same thing…and firstbeat responds by tell us we are all incorrect. I have even shown them graphs and data in the garmin forums showing them the issue.

      2. All of their metrics only work on the watch itself rather than garmins ecosystem. This is a big problem if you want to upload a workout to garmin from a FIT file. Not sure if this is a garmin or firstbeat issue but its a major issue.

      I’ve actually just started using the HRV Training app for Vo2 max, training status, etc. It is inline with my trainingpeaks data and does a good job of tracking my training status.

    • Agree with Marios.. As a consumer First Beat does not affect my purchasing decision. I do not use any of their metrics to drive my training.

  8. Chris

    Banning Power Meters:

    Ridiculous. BTW, I hadn’t noticed any lack of excitement at the TdF (or the Giro or Vuelta). I suppose you might argue that the dominance of Sky at the TdF has affected it – but that has to do with funding of the team and money in the sport, not power meters….

    Chris

  9. Chris

    So would HR monitors come next or perhaps the removal of all computers? Start getting rid of the tech and start losing sponsor and viewers. If they want to have a race without any modern tech that sounds like a great plan for a one day event.

  10. Michael Prytherch

    Your views on when power meters are way off I’m afraid Ray, the TT yes of course that is true, but races are mostly won and lost in the mountains, Sky will put riders on the front, they know that rider A can stay at 380w for 30 minutes, then rider B will take over for x minutes at x watts…, likewise Tom Dumoulin for example won’t follow an attack, instead he will ride to power and hope that will bring him back, your assumptions on usage are way off.

    All the teams power data is already captured via telemetry today, so this is already happening.

    That being said, I don’t believe removing them will make much difference, these are Pro riders, they can feel the effort and will be able to judge based upon all the training.

    • Andrew E

      Dumoulin is riding to feel more than power. He has said so many times. I also don’t think Sky rely on the PM as much as you think they do.

    • “All the teams power data is already captured via telemetry today, so this is already happening.”

      I’m actually not aware of any teams that are gathering live telemetry power data from riders back into the cars for the ASO races. I’ve actually talked privately to some teams about this and how to do it, but I’m not aware of any teams actually doing it for all riders (or even any riders for that matter).

      Velon isn’t doing the Tour de France, and their system isn’t viable for it either (DI’s system is, but they aren’t permitted by the teams to capture power data).

      So any cases of teams coordinating based on power is individual athletes receiving coached feedback real-time communicating their wattages to coaches and then understanding how to respond. But that doesn’t happen unless they know the breaks and who’s in the breaks. Which of course, also doesn’t happen without team race radio.

      See…everything loops back to race radio. 🙂

    • Sim

      Completely agree. Having a platform and raising views is great, but the way they simply won’t respond to attacks as they know their power won’t allow for it and the guys up front will blow is very real.

      I’m completely fine with people racing like this and power meters, but your post seems out of line with the reality of the sport.

  11. Nick Radov

    I recently attended a lecture by retired pro Chris Horner. He told us that when he won the Vuelta a España in 2013 he used a power meter to pace himself on the big climbs. He knew he had to sustain 400W to hold off his GC rivals.

  12. Champ9533

    Just curious about those deliveries of the Vantage, are those only to resellers? Amazon now has a release date of 11/19. Any info on deliveries of direct preorders from Polar? Thanks

  13. ReHMn

    Hi Ray,

    You always up to date with the Power Mater split at major races like TdF, Kona IM…
    Would it be possible to get somehow the running shoes split (for example) at Mont Blanc Ultra Trail running or for Kona IM?

    Thx

    • Part of that challenge is that Strava has locked down those data sources a fair bit these days, making it more difficult to get (or rather, more difficult to publish).

    • ReHMn

      Understand, Ray…

      But there is always a way to skip Strava. For any race application form I would put a mandatory field about equipment information like bike manufacturer, model, shoe brand model, the applicant intent to participate with…
      That would show what is a non-pros brand of choice when it comes to a non-sponsored selection/equipment…

  14. jerome

    Power Meter Ban at Tour de France?
    A solution could be to ban the real time display from power meter datas but not the devices.
    The datas could be collected, analysed (for training and anti-doping purposes) afterwards but not used during the stage.

  15. Ronald van de Laar

    It would be a great to remove! It kills any precise forecast of the race and more over not only the race but whole teams (SKY). SKY is using powermeters to use certain riders in certain parts of the stage. Once empty he will be dsiposed and repalcaced by another till the powerbucket is empty. It woks on seconds and removing powermeter will bring back a less predictable fight! Btw Tom Dumoulin is not using his powermeter as much as mentioned overhere. Cadans and hart rate more, and they should be banned as well! Only emergency hart rate should be allowed.

    Ronald van de Laar, Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam

  16. Alberto O.

    In theory, you could use something like the Strava algorithm to calculate power from speeed+cadence+altitude. I am sure Strava would be very willingful to create something like an IQ Application that displays real time power based on their algorithm

  17. hdb

    Ray – I concur on the value of power meters in the TDF and elsewhere. In fact, I think they should go further and publish the full files from the top riders (maybe first 10?) on each stage as a way to determine the legitimacy of their performances. If the release was delayed for 7-10 days it would prevent the competition from using it to judge how the other teams’ riders are feeling and adjust tactics.

    UCI could also review the files after each race/stage as a way to complement the biological passports and drug controls that already occur. How better to judge if a rider is using performance enhancing substances than if their performance (W/kg) is suddenly outside of their well documented normal ranges?

    Race radios? – Bin them. The teams don’t have them for the World Championships and it meant that the riders on the road had to react to what they knew/believed to be going on, not just follow the directions from a DS with eyes and ears throughout the race.

  18. Bob

    Tour de France…

    Mr Prudhomme has two key roles for the TdF.

    1) Publicise it
    2) Help the French do better in it

    His statements just before this years race about Mr Froome were made entirely to get more publicity for the race, he MUST have know that Froomey was about to be cleared when he went on record saying he wouldn’t allow him to race unless he was. But he got huge headlines for his event just 24 hours before Froomeys clear result. The power meter comments fall into category 1 above.

    As for helping the French to win in, well he may as well try to invent a tardis.

  19. Idriss

    Personally a feel like the vantage’s (M) has nothing’s advanced…. no Baro ,no altimeter , not better screen,no touchscreen ,no protection , no music …. ok it’s a sport watch but in 3 months every watch will have all of this and better screen ….EVEN THE COROS A THE SAME PRICE HAVE it all ….. so my question is why they took 5 years to sort a watches that will be killed in my opinion in 3 months with new hardware ?!!

  20. Richard Braginton

    The French are so desperate to win there own tour they keep tweaking it to favour whatever French man is flavour of the month. They did this when Anquetil was at his best featuring long time trials and long steady climbs both of which he was good at. Before that they had multiple French teams competing.

  21. JD

    Didn’t Peter Sagan say bike racing is boring?
    They should definitely try something to make it more interesting.
    Limiting radio usage to safety only and banning data display from any source could be an experiment for a one-day event. No HR, no power, no GPS, no watch, no heads-up display, etc. Perhaps we’d see more mano a mano action. Riding by gut, not data. For that matter make it a lo-tech event all around. Vintage bike with toe clips required. 😉

    I defy anyone to watch the TdF without a DVR. What’s the point?
    Fast forward, watch the time gaps until something of interest happens, then watch at normal speed for a few minutes, listen to some commentary, then back to fast forward. Or wait for a crash, stop, backup, replay, then repeat in slo-mo, then back to fast forward.
    TdF scenery is often more interesting than the peloton for large portions of a stage. Or watch time gaps fluctuate in fast forward mode until you reach the final kilometers. Peloton is 6 minutes back, 5 minutes back, 3 minutes, 1 minute, and it’s all over for the breakaway. Time to watch another sprint finish. Repeat for the next stage –for days on end– until something of interest happens more likely during a climbing stage.

    If they want to make cycling more interesting they should add the required telemetry system to capture and display data on the TV screen at least during crucial points including HR, watts, speed, and cadence. For example average figures amongst different groups along with stats for a random individual rider. No need to identify that rider but display a rider’s performance stats at any moment. You could guess who the rider is or it would be obvious on a solo breakaway. That would be way more interesting than what they’ve got now — X km, X seconds between leader and chase groups. The data capture system could be added to the camera motorbikes where proximity determines which group’s stats are displayed by which camera feed.

    Take a clue from Zwift. Data can be interesting especially for an audience well versed in what that data means. Data would also give commentators something more to talk about and explain what the figures mean to the uninformed. Sprint data would be a blast to see.

    Also include more HD cameras on riders bikes in real-time — mounted on bars, another on stays, and another pointing backwards at seat level. Rotate the cams between teams and bikes. The studio broadcast crew picks the best shots at any moment. This could even include drone cam shots along sections where it is safe to do so or points in a race where it is impossible for a motorbike to provide the best view.

    Until they start mixing things up, displaying more data, and improving visibility inside the peloton, I’ll stick with my DVR remote in fast forward mode to watch an event. Otherwise bike racing is boring. At least for most spectators watching on TV.

  22. Tommy

    Instead of banning radios, why not go the formula 1 approach. Certain communications are not allowed. For example the teams cannot tell the driver how to drive the car or what settings to use. They can talk strategy, safety etc. All communications are available to all teams so you can’t talk secrets on the wire. Certain communications are broadcast so the spectators know what’s being said.

    To me this could add an extra dimension to TDF broadcasts. Instead of banning strategy, let the audience in on it.

  23. Demetrios Anifantis

    There is no need for any of the electric gadgets allowed in the tour. It’s all gotten ridiculous. Just go out and ride like the millions before you with a bicycle under you. It’s like looking over your shoulder constantly at the finish line… are you not giving it your all taking that sponsorship money? Pathetic.

  24. Alex Whyte

    Ray, When is your 2018-2019 Bike Trainers Guide coming!!!! Black Friday is soon!!!!

  25. Alex W

    Thanks Ray!!! Always look forward to your guides there are none better!

  26. Jay

    I wanted to know if you were going to add the Polar Vantage M to the comparison table tool.
    Thanks!

  27. Marios

    Ray I believe that the Coros Apex is out (2018/11/13)! Any rough idea when you can do a first impressions or unboxing or whatnot?

    • It was shipped out yesterday, should arrive in the next day or two.

    • Marios

      Fantastic, thank you for letting me know! I am really excited to see what you think about the knob, Sony chipset accuracy and everything else.

    • James Liu

      Awesome DCR.

      Can you also let us know the workout profiles it has? (e.g) indoor gym activities. Also, a comparison with Polar Vantage V in terms of feature set and also more importantly on the brightness of the watch both indoors and outdoors would be much helpful in decision making.

      I see lot of folks using Vantage V or M are complaining about brightness issues even with the latest firmware 1.2.3.

      Keep up the good work!

  28. Tom

    Been holding out on buying a new watch since spring waiting for the Wahoo Elemnt Rival. I assume at this point it is just vaporware and something I won’t see in time for the holidays. Or for that matter never see.

  29. John Berkeljon

    (bad) experience with Vantage V (used V800 and apple watch 3 before).
    Used for triathlon training (ironman) so battery life was main reason.

    When pressing pause it doesnt give any stats but an avatar. I dont look at my watch whilst swimming. the trainings can be long so after an hour yuo do want to knwo where you stand: 100 meter, 1km, 3 km , speed? Nothing to see. from that point its useless as a trainings watch.

    Data to other main stream programs like Trainingpeaks and Strava. My training plan is done via TP (not a big surprise for a triathleet). When its not on strava it didnt happen.
    short training of 2.375 meters ends up as 2km in TP en 1.450 in Strava. ?
    Or 20 min swim test : not a single meter of swimming is shown on Strava.

    My eye sight for a 52 yr old is not too bad but trying to read the data is an effort by itself especially in comparison to the V800 and apple watch.
    I have given up on trying to deceiver it when its dark. the quality of the backlight is not really supporting the possibility to see anything.

    What do I have now? A device where I can only see the data afterwards and have to keep track of my training efforts by counting laps myself. The data uploaded into my TP can not be trusted and has to be adjusted manually to whats in the Polar flow app .

    I can wear the watch to work and tell time and do not have to recharge it as often as the apple watch. But that one tells me everything else whats going on in my life and with my life.

    Its only the software (again is the software). Please Polar invest in some quality updates for the watch. The nice person at my club who is reseller doesnt dare to show his face anymore at the club because so many are disappointed and we are the laughing stock of the Garmin users (the other ones).

    If you update please do so asap as Ironman Dubai is around the corner (1 feb 2019).
    This period is when we do 100×100 swim tests/trainings. Good luck counting.

    PS please change the picture in polar flow app under devices from a V800 to Vantage V as its insulting to the V800.