Discussion in 'Olympics 2016' started by Maggot, Aug 7, 2016.

  1. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Not sure how I'd feel as an athlete if I'd trained hard for years on end and dedicated the greater part of my life to the sport just to hear someone suggesting that something wasn't quite right about my win when they had absolutely nothing to back any suggestion of wrong doing.
  2. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I agree. It's more than fair to ask, especially in cycling.

    If the answer is 'massively more money to invest in technology and training methods', then that's fair enough. I do think the British go a little bit overboard over the success in the indoor cycling events, with the knighthoods etc, though. They have massive domination of a minor sport due to spending masses more money than anyone else. It's not quite as romantic a story as some make out, cheating or no. I'm a little uneasy about the way they do it, tbh. I'd far rather a more level playing field in which technological advantages are reduced.

    Also, the truth is that not all Olympic golds are equal. Promising heptathletes who aren't quite going to make it in heptathlon switch to cycling and win medals - bigger fish in a smaller pond and with more to feed on than any of the other fish.
  3. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    Surely if they were pumped full of drugs they would have done better at the worlds?
  4. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    One heptathlete and she only got a bronze.
  5. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Point is, it's a numbers game to an extent. If you are seeking to produce medals and produce them cost-effectively and work out how to do it using numbers on a spreadsheet, which is basically what the lottery funding in the UK does, then one of the things you need to look at is the numbers of people who take part in various sports worldwide. It's harder to win an athletics medal through funding than a cycling one for two reasons - 1. there's less technological edge to be had from throwing money at it; and 2. more people take part in athletics around the world than indoor cycling.

    Don't get me wrong. It's a phenomenal team effort, but it is a phenomenal team effort by the richest team. That's all. Supporting them is a bit like being a Man U supporter.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  6. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    edit: never mind, stupid point badly made.

    Move along...
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
    littlebabyjesus likes this.
  7. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I got it. :) :p

    Anyway, going to shut up now. :oops:
  8. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    I hadn't actually seen the last sentence of your post before mine! But yeah, sort of making the same point :D
  9. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I added that last sentence as you were making your post. :D Great minds... or maybe not.

    To be less grumpy, the individuals in the team all seem very lovely.
  10. Nigel Irritable

    Nigel Irritable Five, Ten, Fifteen Years

    If you are professional cyclist you should know that the history of the sport makes any dominant performance and any large leap forward in form suspicious in the eyes of many and that scepticism is standard, not personal. That also goes for just about any professional athlete, but is particularly unavoidable in a sport where we do actually know for certain that most of the greats of the recent past were at the hot sauce. ie tough shit for the clean athlete but if they are feeling emotionally fragile they should concentrate on the overwhelming torrent of backslapping and congratulations in the British media until they feel better.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  11. Nigel Irritable

    Nigel Irritable Five, Ten, Fifteen Years

    The point littlebabyjesus was making is that track cycling is the lowest hanging fruit in the Olympics. It has ten separate medal events, thirty medals going, but as the close cousin of a much bigger, much richer sport, road cycling, very few of the world's top cyclists will ever try their hand at it seriously and none of the countries where cycling has traditionally been a big deal have much interest in it. The talent pool is exceptionally shallow, so quite simply you have to be a much better athlete to win a bronze at heptathlon than you do to win a bronze in a track cycling event.

    When Mo Farah won 10k gold he had to beat the best distance runners in the world in a field drawn from a huge pool of endurance athletes around the world. When Britain won team pursuit on the cycling track they had to beat a team of four basically anonymous Australian journeyman cyclists, only two of whom are good enough to hold down a World Tour contract as domestiques on the road. The two achievements aren't equally difficult and don't require equal talent.

    There are lots of different types of programme an athlete can be on. The "classic" dodgy performance profile is to be anonymous for years before suddenly beating the world. That's how the French, Germans and Australians quoted in that article were describing the British cyclists competitive history. There are also drug programmes however that involve trying to maintain a very long "peak".

    Just to be clear, in saying that being anonymous for years and then suddenly great is indeed a performance profile that fits with doping, I don't actually think that the British team's dominance at the Olympics after years of being not particularly good at World Championships and World Cups is best explained by them suddenly supercharging. There's a much less nefarious explanation that fits with the same data - they are a vastly better resourced machine than any other team, much better resourced than the Australians and incomparably better resourced than anyone else, and the whole machine exists and is funded for the sole reason of winning Olympic medals. Every other event is just training. They simply don't give a shit about winning some random World Cup meet.

    Dope explains a great deal about modern sport, but money explains even more.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  12. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    But Team GBs rise hasn't been overnight: it's been a steady and consistent improvement since the lottery money starting being pumped in.
  13. Nigel Irritable

    Nigel Irritable Five, Ten, Fifteen Years

    What they are drawing attention to isn't the fact that GB are a power in the sport. That much is obvious. What they are suspicious about is that the British went from just under four years of mediocrity by the standards of powers in the sport to very suddenly being absolutely dominant. ie the people complaining are saying "hang on, I was able to beat him/her pretty consistently for years on end, but as soon as the Olympics come around he/she can just blow me away?"

    In most sports where there's any awareness of doping, the same group of athletes going from years of mediocrity to sudden world beaters would be treated as very suspicious. In road cycling public opinion would execute them without trial. I don't actually think it's particularly suspicious given the structural realities of track cycling though. Like any pro athletes they might be doping, I've long learned not to vouch for anyone. But fundamentally you don't need to look to dope to explain why a team that has a completely different scale of resources to their rivals, including large programmes guiding young athletes into the sport and training them full time, can dominate against operations held together with good will and duct tape. And you don't have to look to dope to explain why a team that has the sole purpose of harvesting Olympic medals doesn't perform as well at events that they treat as training but their opponents care about.
  14. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Yep. They're not equal achievements by any means. A good test would be to see what kind of fame they have outside the UK. Farah will have a lot of fame. The UK track cyclists will have virtually none.

    The BBC entirely glosses over this aspect, and I understand why they do it, but is it churlish to point out that all medals are not equal? It may be, but that doesn't make it any less true.
    baldrick and Nigel Irritable like this.
  15. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    This aspect rather saddens me, I must say. To take a random example I know more about, in skiiing, winning the season-long tournament is more prestigious to everyone within the sport than winning Olympic gold, and rightly so, despite the Olympics being the biggest single race. In any individual race, stuff can happen.

    In the UK, the lottery funding system systematically skews all sports away from their own 'domestic' scene towards the Olympics, and I'm not sure that is healthy.
  16. Hollis

    Hollis Bloody furious

    Blah.... yeah - there are a few 'blue riband' events in the Olympics - 100m, 1500m in athletics etc. but the vast majority aren't sports with a truly global interest - look at the medal tables and see where other nations have got their golds - they tend to cluster around 2-3 events they're strong in, so the GB is fairly typical in that respect - e.g. last time I looked 16 of the USA's golds were in swimming.

    Also I don't buy that the focus on elite athletes is to the detriment of the rest of the sport - look at the growth of cycling and running in Britain over the last 5-10 years - its booming.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2016
    Maggot likes this.
  17. ferrelhadley

    ferrelhadley These violent delights have violent ends.

    Swimming has 34.

    Road cyclists are built for long distances and climbing, they are built like marathon runners while track cylcing tends to be dramatically shorter and built much more for sprinting.
    Yet traditionally strong Olympic countries have such as the US, Australia and East Europe do take a big interest.
    Your ignorance of the different physiology gives us a good idea how much value we can attach to this statement. "Albert Contador is not a track cyclist thus its shit"

    You mean they were not people who were big on the road.
    Your contempt for other disciplines that the one you idolise is shameful.

    Britain finished top of the UCI world championships in March. If that is your "anonymous" then you are again revealing your stunning lack of knowledge of the subject. You will hit Google and try to come back with some facts, but it will be back filling.

    Britain topped the UCI worlds in 2013 and 2016.

    If you know nothing about the actual results of the past 4 years.
    Second to Eddie Merckx in all time TdF stage wins, Mark Cavendish turns up to ride track for the UK much as one of the worlds best tennis players, Andy Murray turns up to play mens singles for the UK and Justin Rose turns up to play golf. We have some of the worlds best sportsmen prepared to turn up to win the USD 25 000 for a gold in the Olympics rather than the much bigger prizes else where.

    20 years ago British cyclists and other athletes turn up out of pure passion. The men and women held down day jobs and trained in the mornings and nights and we still eaked out medals. Track cycling and time trials are deeply ingrained into UK cycling culture. We dont get cleared roads to do full races. Many of our best road cyclists came from the UK track system. We have two of the best in the business (Wiggins and Cav) turning up to the worlds to ride Madison, not even an olympic event.

    Money matters, but money without passion is just a fast way to spend cash.
  18. The Boy

    The Boy danny la rouge is probably wrong.

    Which explains why Wiggins never amounted to much on the road.
    baldrick likes this.
  19. DownwardDog

    DownwardDog Riding a Brompton with a power meter.

    Particularly when the performance of the whole team take a dramatic spike upward... eg Kelme.
  20. Nigel Irritable

    Nigel Irritable Five, Ten, Fifteen Years

    I genuinely enjoyed this impassioned nationalist silliness and would encourage you to keep at it.

    One of the only reasonable things you've said is that swimming has a vast number of medals going. It's not much of an insight though as just about anybody who has thought about it will realise that many of the "great Olympians" are swimmers who have won multiple medals in events that are determined by similar skills and abilities. A top swimmer will win multiple medals, not because they are better athletes than those in other disciplines but because there are so many overlapping events. Swimming is a huge outlier at the Olympics.

    But pointing out that swimming is wildly overrepresented in terms of medals, to the point where you can't meaningfully compare swimmer's medal hauls with those of other athletes, doesn't change track cycling's status as the lowest hanging fruit in the Olympics. After all, while swimming is even more overrepresented in terms of medals available, there are at least a significant number of serious national programmes, along with a large pool of top athletes from smaller countries, competing for those medals. There are huge numbers of serious swimmers worldwide and the best swimmers do in fact compete in swimming competitions at the Olympics.

    That simply isn't true of track cycling. In track cycling there are one and a half serious national programmes. That's it. The vast majority of countries don't even have one proper indoor track let alone a multi million pound per year national programme. The US, for example, has one of the "biggest" programmes outside of the big one and a half. The whole women's side of their programme has one full time employee.

    There are gambling events in Japan and there is six day racing in the low countries, which is both very different and something done as an off season pocket money event by road cyclists or aspirant road pros. Other than that, track is completely irrelevant outside Britain and Australia. All of the money is on the road, which is why nobody who has the slightest chance of being a road professional cares about track outside of Britain. There is no career in track unless the British lottery or the Australian sports institute is paying you.

    The important issue is not that various professional climbers are missing from the track, but that all of the big lumps, time trialists, prologue specialists road sprinters and rouleurs are missing from the track. Because it's a tiny sport with no profile. So if you are a Tony Martin or a Fabian Cancellara or a Tom Dumoulin or a Marcel Kittel you have much bigger fish to fry. What's more, it isn't just that top pros almost universally won't seriously ride track, the grassroots participant base of track cycling is probably the lowest of any multi-event Summer Olympic discipline. There isn't even one amateur track cyclist for every thousand amateur swimmers, runners or road cyclists or shooters or archers or rowers. The pros don't care about track and the grassroots cyclists don't care about track. That doesn't mean track is boring or pointless. I like it. I wish it was a bigger sport. But it isn't. And it so obviously isn't that I can guarantee that nobody here who isn't British will argue otherwise.

    When the British sports authorities decided to focus on track cycling, they did so because it offered the greatest return on investment in Olympic medal terms. They didn't do so randomly and they didn't do so in a confused or stupid manner. It took a great deal of thought. They knew what they were doing. They have created the kind of infrastructure that is common in large sports but for a sport that is tiny everywhere else. A sport with almost no rival pros, only one rival national programme and the thinnest scattering of grassroots participants. Of course they dominate as a result. That domination is neither surprising, nor interesting, nor particularly worthy of awe in athletic rather than sports administration terms.

    Jessica Ennis Hill may have won one silver to Becky James' two silvers, but Ennis Hill's silver was many, many times harder to earn and many times more impressive in athletic terms. And not because heptathlon is some kind of "marquee event".
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
    redsquirrel and baldrick like this.
  21. twistedAM

    twistedAM Left Of The Dial

    But..the endurance track events have helped spawn some successful road careers e.g. Wiggins, Thomas and now Douell (sp?) has got a Sky contract.
    The British Cycling/Sky approach of marginal ;) gains has shaken up the pro peloton to quite a degree.
    And thus we get back to money.
  22. Hollis

    Hollis Bloody furious

    Shame Sagan got a flat tyre on the 1st lap of the mountain biking... he'd made it from the back of the field to 3rd place, and seemed to be holding his own.
  23. hash tag

    hash tag Pedicabo omnes

    Maybe he should have gone to the vuelta.
    baldrick, Hollis and maomao like this.
  24. Bungle73

    Bungle73 I was there, now I'm here Banned

    Was the men's mountain biking actually interesting? I watched the women's yesterday and I found it a bit dull (never really properly watched mountain biking before), especially after the action-fest that was the track cycling. I watched the Vuelta on Eurosport instead, which was seemed far more interesting.

    Maybe mountain biking is something I'd rather be doing than watching?

    TBH I'm a noob at watching cycling on TV. I've got into it through watching GCN's and GMBN videos.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  25. Hollis

    Hollis Bloody furious

    Apparently he wasn't available for comment afterwards. :hmm:
  26. Hollis

    Hollis Bloody furious

    I found it pretty dull as well, tbh. Then again road racing can be dull ... though i see it more like watching cricket.. it's more than the action.
  27. Bungle73

    Bungle73 I was there, now I'm here Banned

    TBH I'm probably a bit biased towards road riding atm, as I just bought myself a road bike. :D

    I haven't used the mountain bike much this year...except for some road rides.
  28. ferrelhadley

    ferrelhadley These violent delights have violent ends.

    Such enjoyably bitter hatred of track cycling. Loving it.

    Almost all road cyclists do not generate enough power for Olympic cycling track events. This should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge of actual cycling and not sit sitting of their fat arse watching it on telly. The fastest road cyclist this year, Cav, failed to make the GB pursuit team and had to ride madison and omnium, they are essential endurance events. Kittel would have zero chance in track sprints his only hope would be like Cav the endurance events. Cancerella might just have a big enough engine for the pusuit but Martin? Christ what do you think he could ride on the Olympic track schedule? The derny?

    I will explain for the people who are not quite following what is happening here. In the UK and parts of Europe there is a long standing contempt for anyone who is not a road cyclist. Folk who often know little about actually sitting on a bike and making it go pontificate that the people they have heard of are godlike athletes and people from other disciplines are piddling "journeymen". You will notice the excellent results of the UK women is being smeared because male road bikers of note are not on the program. But inspite of the fact that for women the Olympics has a much higher profile than the usual road calendar the big names for stage races (Marianne Vos, Lizzie Armitstead etc) did not show. Like the men on the road they are too light and do not generate enough power for the sprints and even the endurance events. It would be ludicrous to declare that the womens tennis, football or golf medals were devalued because of the absence of big name males players in those sports. But that is in effect what our clown is doing with his logic.


    Things to keep in mind, the amount of energy required to climb a hill\mountain goes up linearly with weight. The amount of energy to increase speed vs air resistance goes up exponentially with speed. Human power to weight ratios drop off as you increase weight.

    This is important to understand for this argument as all road cyclists who ride stage races have to do a lot of climbing. Even sprinters who have to produce the most total power on the road have limits on their power to weight ratio before they take too much energy to drag their muscles up a hill to be able to race for 20 days. This is why Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy never became road sprinters. They have a large muscle mass of fast twitch fibre and consume huge amounts of glycocen from their muscles to go fast. They are classic big bulky anaerobic athletes, sprinters.

    Road sprinters have to be light enough to get up the mountains, ride a 100kms or so then produce a big burst of anaerobic power. They have to be much lighter and more aerobic capable than their track counterparts.

    Most to nearly all road cyclists have their bodies as light as can be, and specialise in the aerobics of slow twitch muscles and the fat to ATP energy path. They are built very close to classic marathon runners. Some have a bit more power to push the wind out the way for the team boss on flat stages, others even more to pull good time trial numbers. But only the sprinters have the fast twitch muscles and glycogen pathways (everyone has fat to atp and glycogen to atp pathways but some are better at one than another, this is one of the things that differentiates sprinters from marathon runners). But as said, road sprinters have to have small enough muscles to get over mountains without dying.

    I am missing huge amounts of detail here like because of the much higher levels of aerodynamic resistance track cyclists have to have much much greater posture discipline and loads more.

    But the skills for road cycling are not really transferable to the track. The very fastest road cyclist won a medal in the track endurance event. One of the best road TTers (Wiggins) had to quit the road and put on the weight (muscle mass) to come back as a gold on the track, while Geriant went the other way and would get nowhere on a track team now, too light not enough power.

    Road cycling is a fantastic sport really worth watching.
    Track cycling is a fantastic sport really worth watching.

    They are different sports as much as sprinting and marathon are different.

    I would never, ever diss the woman's boxing as "low hanging fruit" because its new and has not a large participation, nor because the big name male pros are not here. They are inspiring people and breaking new ground.

    I have loved watching Olympics when the UK won one gold medal because the sport is heart lifting.

    Fuck the embittered doubters and their grudges.

    Its fun to have seen the UK win medals but much much better to watch woman's 7s rugby, golf and boxing inspire new young people into sports.

    I have had a great Olympics.

    (edited for a bit of clarity)
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  29. Ted Striker

    Ted Striker Foot's on the other hand

    I think you're answering a point he isn't making. :confused:
  30. The Boy

    The Boy danny la rouge is probably wrong.

    No think about it. It's rather hilarious really.

    It's also a bit wrong headed.

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