A Contemporary Variable-Power Cycling Protocol to Discriminate Race-Specific Performance Ability

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: Traditional physiological testing and monitoring tools have restricted our ability to capture parameters that best relate to cycling performance under variable-intensity race demands. This study examined the validity of a 1-h variable cycling test (VCT) to discriminate between different-performance-level cyclists. Methods: Ten male national- and 13 club-level cyclists (body mass, 67 [9] and 79 [6] kg; peak power output, 359 [43] and 362 [21] W, respectively) completed a VO2max test and two 1-h VCT protocols on 3 separate occasions. The VCT consisted of 10 × 6-min segments containing prescribed (3.5 W·kg−1) and open-ended phases. The open-ended phases consisted of 4 × 30–40 s of “recovery,” 3 × 10 s at “hard” intensity, and 3 × 6-s “sprint” with a final 10-s “all-out” effort. Results: Power output for the 6- and 10-s phases was moderately higher for the national- compared with club-level cyclists (mean [SD] 10.4 [2.0] vs 8.6 [1.6] W·kg−1, effect size; ±90% confidence limits = −0.87; ±0.65 and mean [SD] 7.5 [0.7] vs 6.2 [1.0] W·kg−1, effect size; ±90% confidence limits = −1.24; ±0.66, respectively). Power output for the final 10-s “all-out” sprint was 15.4 (1.5) for the national- versus 13.2 (1.9) W·kg−1 for club-level cyclists. Conclusion: The 1-h VCT can successfully differentiate repeat high-intensity effort performance between higher-caliber cyclists and their lower-performing counterparts.

Sharma is with Griffith Sports Physiology and Performance, School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, and Triathlon Australia, Burleigh Heads, QLD, Australia. Bentley is with Exercise and Sport Science, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, NSW, Australia. Mejuto is with the Physical Education Dept, University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Basque Country. Etxebarria is with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Etxebarria (naroa.etxebarria@canberra.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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