Racing and Training Physiology of an Elite Ultra-Endurance Cyclist: Case Study of 2 Record-Setting Performances

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To present a case report of an elite ultra-endurance cyclist, who was the winner and course record holder of 2 distinct races within a 4-month span: a 24-hour solo cycling race and a 2-man team multiday race (Race Across America). Methods: The athlete’s raw data (cycling power, heart rate [HR], speed, and distance) were obtained and analyzed for 2 ultra-endurance races and 11 weeks of training in between. Results: For the 24-hour race, the athlete completed 861.6 km (average speed 35.9 km·h−1, average power 210 W [2.8 W·kg−1], average HR 121 beats per minute) with a 37% decrease in power and a 22% decrease in HR throughout the race. During the 11 weeks between the 24-hour race and Race Across America, training intensity distribution (Zone 1/2/3) based on HR was 51%/39%/10%. For the Race Across America, total team time to complete the 4939-km race was 6 days, 10 hours, 39 minutes, at an average speed of 31.9 km·h−1. Of this, the athlete featured in this case study rode 75.2 hours, completing 2532 km (average speed 33.7 km·h−1, average power 203 W [2.7 W·kg−1]), with a 12% decrease in power throughout the race. Power during daytime segments was greater than nighttime (212 [25] vs 189 [18] W, P < .001, ηp2=.189). Conclusions: This case report highlights the performance requirements of elite ultra-endurance cycling. Although average power was similar when riding for 24 hours continuously and 75 hours intermittently over 6.5 days, there were large differences in pacing strategies and within-day power-output changes.

Rothschild, Maunder, and Plews are with the Sports Performance Research Inst New Zealand (SPRINZ), Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Delcourt is with the Dept of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.

Rothschild (jeffrey.rothschild@aut.ac.nz) is corresponding author.
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