If you truly want to improve in the competitive sport of cycling you first need to learn who you are in the sport. For me, coaching a sport, and for the athlete; learning a sport, begins first with simply understanding the sport.
The majority of cyclists I see believe that they first need to get fit, get lean, and go fast BEFORE they can begin to learn the workings of the sport of cycling. While this seems like a sensible strategy, it's a poor one. Why? Because people end up wasting time learning bad techniques and often trying to master the popular FTP blanket approach to cycling.
Just raise your FTP, lose a bunch of weight, and then go faster. Right? Wrong. Too often I see athletes and coaches alike holding themselves back right from the start, obsessing around the simple and general concept of FTP, or functional threshold power. This approach is physically expensive, not sustainable, and does not translate to truly getting faster and better in the sport of cycling.
While power and strength IS important, it is not all created equal. There are different techniques behind delivering power, different styles and combinations in executing that power, and different durations that are used for the power.
From years of analysis as a professional athlete and coach, I’ve concluded that there are four different types of riders in the sport. Some rider types present an obvious contrast, such as the difference between a climber and a sprinter. Some may share specific attributes but have subtle differences that completely change their approach to training and winning races.
The four Rider Types are: Puncheur, Climber, Classics TT, and Classics Sprinter.
These four Rider Types work in all areas of cycling (road, mountain, gravel, cyclocross, track,) however, I will use road to detail them out as it is the simplest way to understand the differences. The easiest way to explain the Rider Type is to consider this: If I were a team director and I wanted to sign you onto my Tour de France team, what position would you fill?