Why did Bradley Wiggins Win?


Many people have marveled at Bradleys achievement. We all at Balance Performance Physiotherapy congratulate him on a wonderful success. WOW!

I was asked why did someone his bodyshape win the Tour de France and why cant Chris Hoy,or any other well trained cyclist for example do so. Does Bradley Wiggins have something special about his body type?

Your body type was primarily determined before you were born. When it comes to racing, lamenting your body type is futile and counter-productive. Small bodied climbers wish they were faster in the flats, and the larger more powerful cyclists hate being dropped in the hills.

It is the natural order of cycling. When it comes to training and racing, your body type is an important consideration, and the smart athlete will identify their strengths to exploit and weaknesses to develop. Thats exactly what the SKY team has done to their riders including Bradley Wiggins

The power to weight ratio is the “golden” ratio of cycling. Ignoring tactics, the raw number of watts per kilogram that an athlete can generate for the duration of a race will be a key determinant of the outcome. But its not just this ratio that matters, there are SO MANY other factors that turn a rider into what they are.

  • One theory is that smaller riders tend to have higher VO2 values, which will serve them well in the hills.
  • Another cyclist with more muscle cross section gives them the power needed to push through the increased air resistance associated with high speeds.
  • Muscle fibre predominance (fast twitch vs. slow twitch) is another determining factor of ability and strength,
  • Limb length and muscle origin is so important – look at Bradleys levers. Long efficient legs and shorter arms that dont get in the way

Of course there are numerous exceptions to these generalisations that should be noted, but it is well known that body type affects cycling performance. Victoria Pendleton,  some might say, is not an ideal shape for a sprinter – too slight, but she seems to get by! (haha). Mark Cavendish is not as big as some of the top sprinters in the TDF ( eg Andre Greipel). Cavendish is a short stocky punchy machine of a man that after 220 miles is still able to sprint ahead of the others.  It would be impossible to get Chris Hoy to the finish line far less sprint and attack it . Wiggins is completely different to Cavendish he is a large lugubrious long levered athlete who as an individual has a great work ethic, he is very flexible,  strong in the core, fuel efficient, powerful, mentally tough and with Skys extra marginal gains that their performance director keeps talking about they have turned a fabulous solid rock of an athlete and honed him with many of their own sky principles.

We cant all be Bradley Wiggins but if we use some of his protocols he uses and positives I listed above,  we can start to make headway in our own performance goals. These include:

  1. Physiotherapy to aid core control, balance muscle groups and condition the athlete.
  2. Physio and Cycle fitter to establish the bike fits appropriately and efficiently to improve the wattage output of the body.
  3. Nutritionist – to assist fuel management and how we burn it up efficiently to maintain the above
  4. Physiologist to interact with all the above and keep all systems in check and push boundaries outside one comfort zone.
  5. Psychologist to focus the mind.

For me working with cycle fitter such as Phil Cavell  (www.cyclefit.co.uk) as a sports physiotherapist  with an interest in biomechanics it is fascinating  for me to see how people can easily improve.

Phil of Cyclefit and I talked together over these issues above and the prospect that more want these tiny adjustment excites us both and the future of cycling in this country.

As a cyclist its great to see more and more people getting the bug and wanting to know more how they can be a little more like Bradley and co.

If you want to get the bug – give us a call and see how we can help. 020 7627 2308

Well done Bradley Wiggins. Tour De France Winner 2012. Immortalised!

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