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Rider Phenotypes


A cyclist's phenotype is the statistically-based categorization of a rider based on his or her power profile and performance characteristics across different durations (the overall shape of his or her power-duration curve).


All-rounder

An all-rounder phenotype refers to cyclists who possess a balanced mix of endurance, power, and versatility, making them capable of performing well across a variety of cycling disciplines and conditions. All-rounders are not specialists in any single area but are competent in many aspects of cycling. Below are some key characteristics of an all-rounder phenotype according to WKO definitions.


  • Balanced power profile: All-rounders have a well-rounded power profile with solid capabilities across short, medium, and long durations. They may not have the highest peak power or the highest FTP, but they are competitive across a range of efforts.

  • High functional threshold power (FTP): While not as high as time trialists, all-rounder cyclists' FTP is typically strong, allowing them to sustain high power outputs over long periods, which is crucial for both climbing and flat terrain efforts.

  • Moderate neuromuscular power (Pmax): All-rounders have decent sprinting abilities, though not as explosive as pure sprinters. They can still generate significant power over short durations, making them capable in finishing sprints or short, steep climbs.

  • Good anaerobic capacity (FRC, Functional Reserve Capacity): All-rounders possess a good anaerobic capacity, allowing them to handle repeated high-intensity efforts, such as those encountered in breakaways or hilly terrains.

  • Versatility: All-rounders can perform well in various race situations, including flat stages, rolling terrain, and climbs. Their adaptability makes them valuable in stage races and one-day classics.

  • Endurance and stamina: All-rounders have strong endurance, enabling them to maintain high performance levels over long distances and multiple race stages.


In summary, an all-rounder phenotype is characterized by a balanced and versatile power profile, enabling the cyclist to perform well across a range of efforts and terrains. This versatility makes them capable of competing at a high level in different types of races and conditions.


Sprinter

A sprinter phenotype refers to a cyclist who excels in short, explosive efforts, typically lasting from a few seconds up to a minute. Sprinters are characterized by their ability to generate very high power outputs over these short durations. Below are some key characteristics of a sprinter phenotype according to WKO definitions.


  • High neuromuscular power (Pmax): Sprinters have a high peak power output, which is the maximum power they can produce in a very short time, usually measured in watts.

  • Higher anaerobic capacity (FRC, Functional Reserve Capacity): This refers to the ability to sustain high power outputs for short durations, indicating a large reserve of anaerobic energy.

  • Explosive power: Sprinters have the ability to rapidly accelerate and maintain high power during short, intense efforts such as during a race finish or a breakaway attempt.

  • Lower endurance relative to other phenotypes: Compared to all-rounders or time trialists, sprinters may not have the same level of endurance or ability to sustain high power over longer durations.

  • High sprint efficiency: This indicates how effectively a sprinter can convert energy into speed during a sprint, often involving optimal body mechanics and technique.

  • Strength and muscle mass: Sprinters typically have a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which contribute to their explosive power.


In terms of specific metrics, sprinters often have exceptional power-to-weight ratios for efforts lasting up to one minute but may not have the same sustained power outputs over longer durations compared to other cycling phenotypes.


Time Trialer

A time trialer phenotype refers to cyclists who excel in maintaining high power outputs over sustained periods, typically ranging from twenty minutes to an hour or more. Time trialers are specialists in individual efforts against the clock where aerodynamics, sustained power, and pacing are crucial. Below are some key characteristics of a time trialer phenotype according to WKO definitions.


  • High functional threshold power (FTP): Time trialers have an exceptionally high FTP, which represents the maximum power they can sustain for about an hour. This is a key metric for their performance in time trial events.

  • Strong aerobic capacity: Time trialers possess a robust aerobic system, enabling them to sustain high power outputs over extended durations without significant fatigue.

  • Steady-state power: Time trialers excel at maintaining a steady, high power output without the need for frequent power surges or bursts, which is essential for the continuous nature of time trial efforts.

  • Good Time to Exhaustion (TTE): Time trialers have a high TTE at FTP, indicating their ability to sustain their threshold power for longer durations, which is critical for time trial events.


In summary, the time trialer phenotype is characterized by high sustained power, an excellent FTP, and efficiency. These attributes enable them to perform exceptionally well in individual time trial events where consistent high power and minimal drag are crucial.

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