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‘You Versus The Peloton’

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Now that the 2011 Tour de France is wrapped up, let’s take a look at how some of we more average cyclists would fare against the sports’ heros. Our friends at Bicycling Magazine compiled this list of stats comparing an average cycling enthusiast and a professional Tour racer. These estimated numbers are staggering to say the least. —T.C. Worley

Power and Speed
> Average speed on flat terrain: 17–18 mph (you); 25–28 mph (pro rider)

> Average speed on mountainous terrain: 9–10 mph (you); 21–25 mph (pro)

> Estimated average watts at threshold: 170–220 (you); 405–450 (pro)

> Miles ridden in a week: 75–140 (you); 700–800 (pro)

The takeaway: TV coverage doesn’t show the real story. It’s staggering to witness how fast pro cyclists go uphill in person. Their strength-to-weight ratios make these speeds possible. For wattage, it gets crazier still: Depending on his size, a sprinter like Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar can produce more than 1,400 watts of power heading to the finish line!

Pro riders crank through a turn at speeds heretofore reserved for automobiles

> Calories consumed on a ride: 200–450 (you); 4,000–5,000 (pro)

> Bottles of water consumed (three-hour ride): 2–3 (you); 4–20 (pro)

For the calories, it’s not unheard of for a Tour rider to burn up to 8,000 calories during a single stage! Water bottles: Depending on the stage distance, temperature, and terrain, the numbers fluctuate from 1 to 4 bottles an hour for Tour riders.

Cadel Evans, winner of the 2011 Tour de France

Bike and Gear
> Cost of a race bike: $2,000–$7,000 (you); $9,000–$14,000+ (pro)

> Chain replacements: Maybe once a season (you); 2–3 per Tour (pro)

> Flat tires over the course of three weeks: 1 or less (you); 4–5 (pro)

The takeaway: Nearly every Tour bike weighs 14.9 pounds, per UCI minimum-weight rules, and they are as expensive as cars. Your bike likely weighs 15 to 18 pounds and did not cost quite as much as a car. Spend more and you can get one lighter than a pros’ bike (and legal in most non-UCI races). As for the chains, each Tour rider starts the race with a new chain. It’s usually replaced once or twice if the weather is messy.

Video recap of 2011 Tour de France

Rest and Recovery
> Hours of riding on a rest day: 0 (you); 2–3 (pro)

> Hours of sleep a week: 40–50 (you); 70 (pro)

It seems counter-intuitive, but a few hours of non-race-effort riding helps muscles recover for the pros. As for sleep, during the Tour, the pros average about 2 hours of sleep for every hour of racing. Needed rest to let the body recover. Good night.

—Data for this article was supplied by Team HTC-High Road and Bicycling Magazine. See the original story, “You Versus The Peloton,” on Bicycling.com.

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