How many watts does it take to beat a pro cyclist?

What’s your dream threshold? Four, five, maybe even six watts per kilo… At what point does the target number become impossible except for pros? Joe Laverick finds out

Could you beat a pro
(Image credit: SWPix)

Is there, for amateur riders, an impossible number – a power figure so high that only pros can achieve it? Likewise, for pro riders, is there a figure that’s literally beyond the limits of (clean) human performance? 

We cyclists are preoccupied with questions like this – we are obsessed with data and comparing ourselves to the eye-popping outputs of WorldTour riders. So much data is available that you’d think it would be easy to predict who is going to be the best in the world. But it’s not. Cycling performance is like an onion, it has many layers – and in this feature, we’re going to find out why.

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Joe Laverick
Full-time cyclist & part-time writer

Joe Laverick is a professional cyclist and freelance writer. Hailing from Grimsby but now living in Girona, Joe swapped his first love of football for two wheels in 2014 – the consequence of which has, he jokes, been spiralling out of control ever since. Proud of never having had a "proper job", Joe is aiming to keep it that way for as long as possible. He is also an unapologetic coffee snob.