Investigation: What would it take to beat a pro?

Just how much fitter would you have to get to keep pace with a full-time pro? CW fitness editor David Bradford lays his data on the line and dares to compare

(Daniel Gould)

Three-hundred and 39 watts for one hour and 51 minutes. That was the extraordinary effort with which Vincenzo Nibali won Stage 20 - cut short to 59km, owing to apocalyptic weather - at this year’s Tour de France.

That equated to a normalised average power of 353 watts (the output sustainable if the effort had been completely consistent); and let’s not forget, Nibali is a puny climber who weighs just 65kg, meaning his average power-to-weight for the entire stage was 5.4W/kg - pushed out by legs already battered by three weeks of racing. To anyone who knows what 350W feels like on a bike, those stats provoke an irresistible question: what on earth would it take for a mere mortal like me to reach that level of performance?

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David Bradford
Features editor

David Bradford is features editor of Cycling Weekly (print edition). He has been writing and editing professionally for more than 15 years, and has published work in national newspapers and magazines including the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the Irish Times, and Runner’s World. Alongside his love of cycling, David is a long-distance runner with a marathon PB of two hours 28 minutes. Having been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2006, he also writes about sight loss and hosts the podcast Ways of Not Seeing.