A comparison from the 2011 Tour of Bright
I'm no youngster, and I've plenty of years in the past racing Elite/A grade, and now race Masters. After the recent Tour of Bright I would say that Masters racing is not an easy day out on the bike, being full of ex A grade riders, using a bagful of A grade tips and tricks (see this post)! The Masters 1/2/3 race was the closest to the A grade race:
- A grade average 38.95 km/h
- M 1/2/3 average 36.65 km/h (and it was shorter)
Stage 2 TT
- A grade fastest 20.39 min; 10th fastest 21.40 min
- M 1/2/3 fastest 20.42 min; 10th fastest 22.10 min
- A grade average 39.57 km/h
- M 1/2/3 average 38.34 km/h
Make your own assumptions about the above, but I'd say the main difference between the two (as you'd expect) is the depth in the race.
Strava gives us another insight, with times available for the two major climbs of the tour (finish to Stage 1 and towards the finish of stage 3):
Tawonga Gap East
Harrietville - The Meg - Mt Hotham
With both of these climbs, the faster M 1/2/3 riders were within 2 minutes of the faster A grade riders, with the faster M 1/2/3 riders clearly faster than the A grade 'bunch' time.
As most riders would know, successful racing requires the ability to survive the splits, often less than 5 minutes of the total race time rather than maintain a high average speed. Given the closeness over 20-30 minute efforts, it's easy to argue that the top end of M 1/2/3 could survive the splits and would be within the top 20 of A grade. Of course, it's more enjoyable to be in for the win than finishing 20th!
Anyways, there won't be any secretraining.com riders in A grade next year, but I reckon there's a few A grade riders would get more satisfaction out of riding M 1/2/3.....