This is definitely true and whether you are an aspiring racer or recreational cyclist just looking to improve your fitness.
There are 2 major components to the above statement.
The first addresses your ability as a cyclist to become as efficient as possible on the bike. Yes, watts and power are important. But even more important is speed and efficiency. If you want to get better, you must keep in mind the end goal- to be faster than everyone else when it counts. For example if you are time trialing against someone else your exact size but you are generating more watts, will you win? Not necessarily. The other rider could be more efficient, and thus has to generate less power to be faster than you. There are many ways to increase efficiency on the bike such as: developing proper form and technique, (including a smooth pedal stroke), refining position and aerodynamics without losing speed and/or power ( these are two separate factors not necessarily tied together). Remember, it is possible to generate more power and actually go slower. Therefore, a cyclist must work to find the optimum balance between generating power and efficiency.
The second component addresses your mental ability on the bike. Do not underestimate this one. Even if you never desire to enter a competitive situation, you can still benefit from using mental strategy. You need to become adept at reading your own body and others while riding, always know where you can conserve energy, where you should expend energy for the greatest result, and if necessary how to take advantage of other riders and their strengths and weaknesses. This topic is best covered with athletes individually. I could write pages on the topic but the best learning comes from experience and conversations with your coach.
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