I’ve got that familiar, rather lost feeling that happens every time an exciting sporting spectacle finishes…
It happens when the Tour finishes, the Giro, Roubaix, the Olympics, Kona, the Six Nations, the World Cup.
But when it comes to the Cycling World Championships, strangely I’ve never had the same level of excitement or goose bumps for the racing until this year…
Usually road, mountain bike, track all hold their own World Championship events in different locations and at different times of the year.
This year, all the disciplines came together over ten days for ‘Super Worlds’ and the result was epic!
It felt like a mini-Olympic games.
The crowds were amazing, the riders were incredible, Glasgow was on fire (despite the rain!).
I could go on all day about the cool stuff from this event, but here’s a few highlights from a bike fitter’s perspective…
GANNA SNATCHES THE WIN BY 0.054 SECONDS
What a race! I wouldn’t usually describe the Individual Pursuit as riveting, but this race was different.
The pair staged a thrilling battle inside the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Dan Bigham (GB) led from the gun, pulling out a huge lead on Ganna (Italia) for almost the entire race. But Ganna, timed his effort perfectly and clawed back victory on the final lap, clocking a 4-01.976 and winning by less than half a second.
The riders’ backgrounds made it an even more interesting race, as Bigham’s day job is to be Ganna’s performance advisor for Ineos Grenadiers. Famously he coached Ganna to his world hour record victory last year.
So these guys know each other inside out!
Both were using the same bike (3D printed), very similar equipment and, obviously, both are masters of aerodynamics.
What this race showcased perfectly was how there is never just one way to ‘cut the cake’…
Here we had two very different riders, with different body proportions (Ganna is 193cm & 82kg, Bigham is 182cm & 75kg), different positions, different riding styles and different tactical choices, yet their results were separated by just 0.054 seconds!
Bigham knows he doesn’t have the same engine and power as Ganna so he gains his speed through ultra aerodynamics and a very measured effort strategy.
Ganna by contrast is a much bigger guy. He is very aero for his size, but he can’t physically achieve the same aero gains as Bigham, so instead he left it to the last few laps before using his superior short term power production to claw back the time and take the win.
The lesson for us mere mortals, is that every rider is different, and we should embrace that.
The aim is not to simply emulate the pro-riders blindly, but to figure out which method, tactic, position, bike works best for you and your riding goals.
Are you a Bigham or a Ganna?
FORM AND FUNCTION – WOMEN’S MTB
I love mountain bike racing and how events have gotten more and more exciting over the last decade. Especially with cross country getting more technical, the introduction of short course racing and modern drone footage really capturing how skilful riders are when travelling at tremendous speed.
I couldn’t help noting Puck Pieterse’s posture (rider on the right above) compared with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (rider on the left above).
Puck is already a Junior World Champion and Pauline is already a multiple World Champion in Cross and MTB. So both are incredibly talented bike riders.
If you watch footage of Pauline racing, she adopts a classically neutral riding posture, with a gentle curve to her spine, typically smooth pedal stroke, long neck and great composure even when pushing really hard.
Puck, on the other hand, looks super stooped over her bike and the her posture begs the question, ‘How can she be comfortable and generate so much power?’
This is the beauty of human beings. When it comes to bike racing and posture, there really is no ‘right’ way of doing things, only different choices.
Of course there are consequences to your choices and I would question how long Puck can keep pushing her body to the limit in this way, without running into some back issues at some point…
However, if your goal is to be one of the fastest mountain bike racers in the world and this is the position that gets you there, who am I to demand otherwise?
Bike fit is rarely about right and wrong (unless you’re on social media!)
I like to think of it as a continuous exploration of form vs. function vs. performance.
How has your position has changed over the years, or how does it vary between different bikes?
FIVE FOR FRAN!
Special mention goes to Fran Brown, who won 5 golds and 1 silver medal, to become the most decorated rider at the World Championships.
I had the pleasure of bike fitting Fran back in 2016/17 as she was getting into triathlon and then again in 2019 just before her selection for Tokyo. Even back then I thought her trajectory and achievements were incredible.
But she’s completely blown everyone out of the water in the last few weeks. Wonderful, wonderful stuff, my heart goes out to you Fran! Enjoy the coos 🙂
It’s fantastic to see para-athletes being so well included in the this Super Worlds, hats off!
THE WEIRD & THE WONDERFUL…
I confess… I did not know that artistic cycling was a World Championship event… and there is a pairs category… truly wild… but the skill level is incredible… check it out if you dare!
Also there was:
– BMX Freestyle Flatland,
– Cycle Ball
– E-sports racing (!?!?!)
– E-mountain bike racing…
Cycling is nuts…
Words by: Wei
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