That kooky Alberto Contador, always nostalgic for the days of swashbuckling heroes on race bikes. As we noted a few weeks back, El Pistolero is basically Don Quixote, tilting at windmills and analytical devices.
Recently retired after his dazzling performance in the Vuelta a Espana, the Spaniard told journalists at Marca that he’d eliminate power meters. You hear that Chris Froome over in Sky-ville, this silly guy doesn’t know analytics have already taken over the world.
Seriously, that would be liked outlawing Strava or carbon wheel sets or electronic shifting. Those ships have sailed, they’re not coming back, wave goodbye.
Contador is opposed to the power meter on psychological grounds. He believes the numbers scare riders from attacking, the numbers destroy ambition. “If you’re going up a climb and you know that you can’t go over 400 Watts and Sky are at the front of the peloton going at 400 Watts, you don’t dare to attack because you’ll blow up inside two kilometers. But if you don’t see the numbers, your sensations might lead you to attack. Riders block themselves when they see the numbers, especially on gradients of six or seven per cent.”
There you go with the “sensations,” Alberto. What place is there for feelings when we’ve got millions of dollars in sports science research and super cool gizmos that quantify every heart beat and watt? Seeing is believing and it’s the rare duck with the mental strength and confidence to defy the numbers.
Once again, Contador was making an argument for invention, daring, instinct and passion. Those are not quantified yet although you can make a nice chart and plot the points for his numerous attacks in the Vuelta. Some worked, some didn’t, he finished fourth and the fans adored him in his final race.
However, fourth is fourth — it’s simple mathematics and numbers don’t lie. But to Alberto’s point, they can also discourage, dampen enthusiasm, lower hopes and turn you into a chicken.
Alberto wasn’t much on power meters during a race. He had this thing inside his brain that would give him a readout on the race situation. It would send him messages like, “Alberto, your legs are magic, the 15% grade is flat, the sun is shining and the roadside is filled with love. Yes, Alberto the moment has come to seize your dream and never mind those robots looking down, so grumpy and dull, at their power meters.”
That was Alberto Contador’s passion meter. But nobody really uses that thing anymore. Its not digital!