Me vs. A Tour de France Rider, by the numbers

I spent the afternoon getting caught up on the most recent stages of the Tour de France, meaning I had a lot of time on my hand. One of the thoughts I’ve had this year – now that I have been riding more than any other time in my life – is what separates me from the TdF riders. I know the obvious answers: age, ability, skill level, and so on. I have no aspirations to become a competitive rider but I am interested in knowing just how far removed I am from those elite athletes. I based my comparison using a blog post from Bicycle magazine in March 2012 (You vs. The Peleton) as an outline. Numbers have been obtained from various sources for pro riders, and from my own logs for my numbers.

The key thing to notice is the power output of these riders. The ability to produce incredible power at close to peak threshold is what makes them stand out. It is also what allows them to cruise up mountain ascents at speeds 2-3 times my own speeds. It also helps to weigh less in such cases.

Metric Me TdF Rider
Age 45 19-40
Weight 81 kg (179 lbs) 68 kg (150 lbs)
Avg. speed – flat terrain 18 mph 25-28 mph
Avg. speed – climbing 9 mph 21-25 mph
Watts generated at lactate threshold* 245-280 W 350-400 W
Miles ridden per week 95 700-800
Calories consumed per ride 300-1,000 4,000-5,000
Calories burned per 100 miles 5,600 5,000-8,000
Hours of riding on typical rest day 0 3-4
Cost of bicycle $700 $10,000-$14,000
Bicycle weight 29 lbs 15 lbs**

*Explained in this article.
** UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) requires all bikes to be a minimum of 6.8 kg (15 lbs). There are bikes lighter than this but they are not allowed in any UCI sanctioned events.


Amateur photographer, cyclist, and beer brewer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

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