Issue 123 - Futurology

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Cycling often gets a bad rap as a traditionalist, backward-looking sport, but it’s also one that is obsessed with the future. The history of the sport has been one of constant improvement, technologically, nutritionally, physiologically and psychologically. Yes, those guys in the 1990s and 2000s made those gains in unethical ways, but they still rode faster than those who came before. And a mark of the progress that has been made in sports science since then is that many of the speeds that were achieved with the help of large quantities of performance-enhancing drugs are now achieved with better aerodynamics, nutrition, training and bikes.

What’s in the magazine?

Greg Van Avermaet

James Startt sat down with Greg Van Avermaet in Canada at the GPs Québec and Montréal in September. The Belgian has twice won in Montreal and, like several big-name riders from his generation, will be retiring at the end of this season. GVA was one of the best one-day riders over the past decade, winning gold in the Olympic road race in Rio in 2016 as well as Paris-Roubaix in 2017. But he also managed to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in 2016 and 2018. Van Avermaet built his reputation on hard work and a low profile, and talked with James about his reasons to finally retire at the age of 38. “I could have continued,” he says, but he came to the conclusion for two reasons. Firstly, he wanted to spend more time with his family. But also he understood that winning the race he most wanted – the Tour of Flanders – was simply no longer possible.

It's about time

In autumn 2022, ASO announced that the 2023 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift would be concluded with an individual time trial. The storybook for men’s road cycling often portrays the ITT as the stage for the decisive GC battle; is this the next step for the women’s peloton? Deena Blacking went in search of answers, shedding light through the voices and experiences of athletes, team managers, and engineers. In a discipline where money can buy speed, what matters more, the athlete or the machine? And how will this shape the future of women’s road cycling?

The future of scouting

Years ago James Witts interviewed Oskar Svendsen, the Norwegian cyclist who holds the world-record VO2max score. Svendsen recorded a score of nearly 100 millimetres of oxygen per kilogramme of bodyweight each minute at the age of just 18. (VO2max scores in the 90s are vanishingly rare, even the 80s are highly unusual and there are many WorldTour pros with scores in the 70s.) Svendsen’s numbers were a sensation and the top teams stalked him. But just a couple years later he’d already retired. His story highlighted the fact that identifying talent isn’t solely about lab tests and numbers, and it inspired James to dig deeper into the rider-recruitment processes of the upper echelons. He discovered a world of value proposition and parental influence, but also concerns that riders’ careers will burn brighter but shorter in the current era.

And more...

Also in Rouleur 123: the Futurology Edition: The magazine also features interviews with two archetypally ‘modern’ riders – Taco van der Hoorn and Jay Vine; Amy Sedghi heads to Girona to take part in the 100km Traka event in a bid to understand its reputation as a gravel hotspot, the Traka’s appeal and the culture it sits within; Rachel Jary gets to know one of the most diverse and exciting cycling teams in the world, the Miami Blazers; James Startt visits Sebastian Fisher, who collects bikes from what he considers to be the golden era of bike design; Tekkers creator Alec Briggs puts Canyon’s latest Grail gravel bike to the test; Emilio Previtli visits the headquarters of KASK helmets and KOO eyewear to interview founder Angelo Gotti; Rachel Jary also learns more about BMC and Red Bull Advanced Technologies’ Project Speed; plus Swi, Lapierre, Velocio, Pas Normal Studios, Orla, Ned and much, much more.

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Issue 123

Worth it for the pics and stories about the King GVA alone.

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