Seems like you misread or misinterpreted what I wrote.
I did not say that aero works in lieu of fitness or that you could not win without it.
You certainly need to be as physically prepared as possible in order to win a bike race
What I said is that it matters and that a shift is occurring and aero does matter. And it will matter more as more riders get on board with aero technology.
It has happened with wheels for sure, I believe that it has also happened with tt gear.
You used to be able to go to a tt and only a few guys had dedicated tt bikes with the fastest gear. Go to one now- most all riders have it.
I know a good amount of guys don't have the gear- especially 1-2 riders. Often they have to ride whatever s**tbox bike their team gives them. Same for other gear.
Pros are no different- they take what they are given and will often choose light over aero. Contador is a prime example of this.
I have done that race that you mention more times than I care to count. I would say that I know how to be successful at it. I have finished well and poorly on both fast and slow gear there.
I will say that fast gear will make a difference.
I will also say that you don't have to choose (if you are buying) you can get light and aero. Look at a Scott Foil or Madone or that new Canyon.
I agree that for everyday riding an aero frame matters not at all.
But for racing I think there is a shift occurring similar to when aero wheels became necessary (or you would be racing at a disadvantage).
I did a race that had a bunch of wind and some fast tailwind descending this weekend. I could tell that riders with the full aero kit- aero frame, aero helmet and 2 in 1 type suit, were going faster in these fast sections (they all had aero wheels too- that is old hat).
So for racing I recommend getting something aero like a Venge, Madone, Cervelo S3, Felt AR or similar.
There are lots of riders racing at high levels on non aero and even box section wheels just fine. The USA Crits series is often a great example of what people can race successfully while not the latest tech.
You're still overblowing the aero benefit even for amateur racing. The difference on a descent or fast section would mainly be due to large drag sources. I have been fine in very windy races on fast courses with training wheels, a non-aero Cannondale, and a non-aero helmet. This year so far in the races I've done (and I've paid attention because of this aero vs. non-aero debate) only 2 aero bikes have won at the cat 3 level. This weekend the winner of a Pro 1/2 race that featured some extremely fast descending and tailwinds won on a non-aero roundtubed frame without an aero helmet. If these small margins are make or break for a person their tactics, position, or skills must be pretty terrible. Even on the pro level lots of non aero bikes are winning stages where it should "matter" even more. Its nice to have, but it won't win or lose a race most of the time. Aero gear has exploded the past two years and I haven't seen a single rider that was within the margins before all of a sudden start rapidly winning and improving their placings because of a switch.
The main concern I have with this thread is that people are slamming a bike for absolutely ridiculous reasons. Its somehow bad because its not as aero as the Madone, or might weigh the same as a Super Six. The differences people are going on and on about are minor. When compared to top end bikes the frame is really light, it supposedly is very compliant and very stiff, and the geometry is a good middle ground for lots of types of racing/riding. If someone were to be asking for a comparison between the Madone and Emonda then sure, post one of the drag graphs to show what could perhaps be saved if both bikes could be made to fit identical and whatnot, but lets not act like somehow the Emonda is a giant piece of shit that a rider can't win a buttload of races on.
Amateur racers have somehow convinced themselves that all of these details are the keys to success, which is probably some weird sort of cognitive dissonance that stems from actually having to purchase our equipment. It seems to have completely shrouded our judgement regarding new products. The Emonda is a much more advanced and better bike than anything that probably existed in 2012 save for a few of the uber top tier frames (hi-mods, S-Works models, etc.) and it seems to be getting hammered on here, while a bike such as the Felt AR1 is seen as the only bike that one could possibly successfully race on is praised like its a diety. Oddly I know two riders that have ridden both and found the AR1 to be a very sub-par in many areas and several Felt sponsored team members have felt the same way. The bike isn't for them and it could be great for someone else, but great specs online doesn't necessarily equate to anything in real life.