How Important Is FTP To A Professional Cyclist?


here at GCN we’ve got several videos about how to improve your ftp, your functional threshold power, which is the power that you can sustain around about an hour but just how important is ftp to cycling performance and could you be a professional road cyclist is without a very high functional threshold power at the interesting question probably a complicated topic I so what I suggest Matt is that we go and discuss it at a bar can we have a coffee ftp is one thing that we also talked a lot about power to weight ratio the higher that ratio is the better the climber you’re going to be so to take some current examples like Chris Froome Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana have enormously high functional threshold powers but they also weigh next to nothing that’s why they are world-class climbers so then what about the riders with the biggest FTP’s in the universe riders like Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin who’ve got FTP’s bigger and higher than Chris Froome so the question is why don’t those guys win the Tour De France? Well the answer is because they’re too heavy or is it really simple as that or perhaps not because both Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara at their very best have proven in the past they can sometimes keep up with the best climbers in the world on a single mountain. However what they do seem to struggle with is replicating that over multiple mountains on back-to-back days so it seems like the extra weight they’re carrying up those climbs compared their adversaries and therefore the enormous power they’re having to put out to get up there with them takes a bit more out of them and it’s a bit more to recover from the recovery is a key component for striking to not only you need to be able to recover between mountains but also between days and stages as well if you get any hope of ever winning the grand tour is more complex than that you need good endurance to yes you do so there are riders in this world who’ve never made it to a professional level they do have a very high functional threshold power and they don’t weigh very much set them off with the best riders in the world at the bottom of a single climb and they’ll probably do very respectively there are thereabouts however ask them to do exactly the same thing at the end of a four hour race or two and a half weeks of intense racing a grand tour and they probably wont fair quite so well so you need to be able to have the ability to reduce close to or on your functional threshold power even after he’s already complete some very hard racing and that is not something that many people can do so where does that leave the sprinters the likes of Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel for example with their ftp and power-to-weight ratios are relatively low when compared to the finest climbers and time trialists in the world but compare them to the best amateurs in the world and actually they compared it favorably in fact their ftp still have to be world class if they’re ever going to be in a position to use their sprint at the end of a race.
– Exactly i mean you don’t win a race like Milan San Remo unless you can produce a very high power for a decent period of time and in fact both of those riders are capable of producing good performances in shorter time trials and prologues. Kittel in fact was a double world champion of the junior in the time trial discipline and Mark Cavendish and had lots of great results in prologues and short time trials and also you don’t get to the end of the Tour de France and be able to sprint on the Champs-Élysées unless you have a decent level of FTP, so perhaps the characteristics of a really good road sprinter is the innate ability to put themselves into the red and then still deliver an effective sprint at the end of the race probably for periods under 10 minutes let’s say they’re able to produce higher percentage of the ftp than a good time trialist or climber and as we’ve already said they wouldn’t be winning any races if they didn’t possess a very good ftp if you could win races on the road without it the likes of Chris Hoy or Robert Forstemann would have forged incredible road careers because their peak sprint power is in fact quite a lot higher than that of Mark Cavendish or Marcel Kittel no those guys road sprinters only look like bad climbers when they’re compared to the very best of the world has to offer and finally we have the Puncheurs like the Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaert those guys might not necessarily be able to sprint with the best sprinters, time trial with the bes time trialists or climb with the purest climbers but what they do have is a superhuman ability to deliver power on short climbs yeah these beasts have the biggest disconnect between their functional threshold powers and the power they’re able to produced over short climbs and maybe one to five minutes in duration they are anaerobic monsters not only have they got an amazing ability to go into the red they can do and multitude of occasions over the course of a single race and and this in fact is kind of what made the Olympic road race in 2016 so fascinating ‘cus really Greg Van Avermaert on paper should not have been able to win that race with the climbs involved however, on the form of his life he was a able to dig deep, go into the red stay with some of the best climbers in the world and then easily out sprint them at the end so exactly how important then is FTP to road cycling performance well I think we’ve shown it really depends on what you want to be good at for a climber or a time-triallist it’s incredibly important but they also need the powers of recovery and endurance too and if you want to be good at short climbs or sprints, you’re still going to need a really good FTP in order to use that strength in the first place otherwise you are not going to get to the finish of the race or you’re going to get there too fatigued to use your strength Track racing on the other hand is a completely different beast altogether and the subject perhaps for another video yeah I think we’ll leave that because this discussion has been incredibly long and we’re running out, it’s gone, it’s dark talking of videos and not missing any Global Cycling Network videos how about subscribing to the channel it’s absolutely free if you haven’t done so already tell your mates then you won’t miss another video do that by clicking on the globe. Two more videos for you to watch now with all this talk about FTP, you’ll probably want to know how to improve yours you can find that by clicking in this corner just down here on the other hand, if you want to see Mark Cavendish giving me tips on sprinting click just there Ooh, look at that. It’s like a Hologram with a video in front of me absolutely nuts