BTW, I'm thinking you may be somewhat downplaying the relative "help" that increasing your "aerobic power" (as you call it) adds to basically every one of the other categories. To borrow an economics quote, "A rising tide lifts all boats."
Pretty much any effort longer than 20s or so has a pretty significant aerobic content. That basically means that most of the axes of the spider plot are somewhat tied to that one leg. To quote Dr. C, "It's an aerobic sport, dammit!" :-)
...and Aram said:
Hm. I've always said "i'd sacrifice some of my sprint for some extra juice on the climbs.." and that's right in line with your proposed suggestion of focusing on weaknesses. But I don't subscribe to what you're saying.
Go back two decades, and try to turn him into a sprint machine. Sure, he'd be better than he is now, but there is a terminal limitation just based on a rider's physical (fiber orientation, tissue size, etc) build.
For me, all bike racing comes down to threshold power in relation to your weight. Improve that, be a better bike racer.
OK boys, nowhere did I suggest (or mean to suggest) that building your threshold power was not important. Quite the contrary, my entire cycling life I've always felt that it was priority #1. (Well, at least after a person has lost as much fat as possible ...it's remarkable to me how many people focus on the details when they're still carrying around 5-10 pounds of excess fat, but people don't want to hear about that!) So yeah, aerobic power is key.
However, I firmly believe you are not going to reach your potential as a bike racer if you focus exclusively on threshold power. You are cheating yourself if you don't also work on a sprint and occasionally do short-duration intervals. Further, for anyone doing long road races, you need to develop endurance beyond what you get simply from a good aerobic system. Nobody will perform well in a 100-mile road race by doing nothing but 2-x-20's. I'm shocked anybody wouldn't agree with these things (except perhaps for a person with very limited training time or someone who only races time trials).
Aram: most definitely you could never turn C-Walk into a big brute like Marty Nothstein, or for that matter even a little speedster like Hilton Clarke. But, you could certainly improve his sprint enough so that people didn't think of him as "the-world's-best-break-mate-because-he'll-never-beat-you-in-the-sprint" which is how a lot of people correctly think of him now. I'm reluctant to critique Chris because, as everyone knows, I've always been one of his biggest fans ...BUT, I think he'd be better if he took just two hours out of his 25-hour training week to work on a sprint.
TnA: I know you are quite fond of Coggan's "it's an aerobic sport, dammit!" quote as well as the rising-tide comment. I also know that all three energy systems play in a bike race (ATP-CP, glycolysis or anaerobic, and aerobic). Sure the majority of time is spent using your aerobic system, but very often the placings in a race are determined by a sprint or by making your way into a break that demanded a substantial amount of anaerobically-generated power. So yeah, it helps if your aerobic system is well developed but it's still foolish not to also develop the other two. Remember your second favorite Coggan'ism: "specificity, specificity, specificity", which it seems to me applies to all the energy systems you use in a bike race.
Back to the fighter-aircraft analogy: the USAF had a finite budget, and they wanted to know the optimal mix of attributes their money could buy. Stealth was the biggie of course, kind of like a very good aerobic system is the key for a bike racer. But stealth is not enough, just as focusing exclusively on your aerobic system is not enough. So the issue is how to allocate the resources ...money for the USAF ...and training time and effort for the bike racer.
Here's how I'd prioritize, and generally in alignment with increasing amount of training time:
1. Lose weight to a reasonable level, let's say for argument sake, to 5%-7% body fat (for men).
2. Focus on aerobically-generated power with lots of training sessions of VO2Max durations (say, five minutes) up to climbs of an hour or more. Why climbing? Because where we live it's nearly impossible to get those longer durations without a lot of interruptions on the flats.
3. Develop your endgame by doing a wide variety of sprint-specific workouts like stomps, high-speed sprints, low-gear sprints, uphill, downhill, short, long, etc. In my opinion, you have to be able to sprint in a variety of circumstances... fortunately sprint workouts don't take too much time.
4. When getting closer to key events, add the short-but-intense intervals (30 sec to 2 min.) once a week. I don't know about you, but these wreck me more than anything else and I have to be careful not to over do it. I was lazy on this front last year and paid the price for it.
5. Long rides, as in 5 hours, if you'll be doing long road races.
Of course the art in all of this is figuring out how much of each is appropriate, and that of course depends on the kind of racing a person wants to do, how fit he/she is already, how much time is available, and when the goal races are.
Feel free to comment and criticize, but only if you offer up your own ideas with some details!