Variability in Power Output During Cycling in International Olympic-Distance Triathlon

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $112.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $149.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $213.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $284.00


The patterns of power output in the ~1-h cycle section of Olympic-distance triathlon races are not well documented. Here the authors establish a typical cycling-race profile derived from several International Triathlon Union elite-level draftinglegal triathlon races.


The authors collated 12 different race power profiles from elite male triathletes (N = 5, age 25 ± 5 y, body mass 65.5 ± 5.6 kg; mean ± SD) during 7 international races. Power output was recorded using SRM cranks and analyzed with proprietary software.


The mean power output was 252 ± 33 W, or 3.9 ± 0.5 W/kg in relative terms, with a coefficient of variation of 71% ± 13%. Normalized power (power output an athlete could sustain if intensity were maintained constant without any variability) for the entire cycle section was 291 ± 29 W, or 40 ± 13 W higher than the actual mean power output. There were 34 ± 14 peaks of power output above 600 W and ~18% time spent at >100% of maximal aerobic power.


Cycling during Olympic-distance triathlon, characterized by frequent and large power variations including repeat supramaximal efforts, equates to a higher workload than cycling at constant power.

Etxebarria and Anson are with the University of Canberra Research Institute of Sport and Exercise, Faculty of Health, Sport and Exercise Science, Canberra, ACT, Australia. D’Auria is with the Queensland Academy of Sport, Nathan, QLD, Australia. Pyne is with the Physiology Dept, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Richard A. Ferguson is with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK. Address author correspondence to Naroa Etxebarria at