Physiological Characteristics of Competitive Male Junior Cyclists Transitioning to the Under-23 Level: A Retrospective Comparative Study

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Matthias Hovorka Training and Sports Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Center for Sport Science and University Sports, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Doctoral School of Pharmaceutical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

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Peter Leo Division of Performance Physiology & Prevention, Department of Sports Science, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

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Dieter Simon Training and Sports Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Wiener Neustadt, Austria

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Clemens Rumpl Training and Sports Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Wiener Neustadt, Austria

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Alfred Nimmerichter Training and Sports Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Center for Sport Science and University Sports, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

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Purpose: The purpose of the current investigation was to retrospectively assess possible differences in physiological performance characteristics between junior cyclists signing a contract with an under-23 (U23) development team versus those failing to sign such a contract. Methods: Twenty-five male junior cyclists (age: 18.1 [0.7] y, stature: 181.9 [6.0] cm, body mass: 69.1 [7.9] kg, peak oxygen uptake: 71.3 [6.2] mL·min−1·kg−1) were assigned to this investigation. Between September and October of the last year in the junior category, each cyclist performed a ramp incremental exercise test to determine certain physiological performance characteristics. Subsequently, participants were divided in 2 groups: (1) those signing a contract with a U23 development team (JUNIORU23) and (2) those failing to sign such a contract (JUNIORNON-U23). Unpaired t tests were used to assess possible between-groups differences in physiological performance characteristics. The level of statistical significance was set at P < .05 two tailed. Results: No significant between-groups differences in submaximal (ie, gas exchange threshold, respiratory compensation point) and maximal physiological performance characteristics (ie, peak work rate, peak oxygen uptake) expressed in absolute values (ie, L·min−1, W) were observed (P > .05). However, significant between-groups differences were observed when physiological performance characteristics were expressed relative to the cyclists’ body weights (P < .05). Conclusions: The current investigation showed that junior cyclists stepping up to a U23 development team might be retrospectively differentiated from junior cyclists not stepping up based on certain physiological performance characteristics, which might inform practitioners and/or federations working with young cyclists during the long-term athletic development process.

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