Aerobic and Anaerobic Power Distribution During Cross-Country Mountain Bike Racing

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To determine aerobic and anaerobic demands of mountain bike cross-country racing. Methods: Twelve elite cyclists (7 males; V˙O2max = 73.8 [2.6] mL·min-1·kg−1, maximal aerobic power [MAP] = 370 [26] W, 5.7 [0.4] W·kg−1, and 5 females; V˙O2max = 67.3 [2.9] mL·min−1·kg−1, MAP = 261 [17] W, 5.0 [0.1] W·kg−1) participated over 4 seasons at several (119) international and national races and performed laboratory tests regularly to assess their aerobic and anaerobic performance. Power output, heart rate, and cadence were recorded throughout the races. Results: The mean race time was 79 (12) minutes performed at a mean power output of 3.8 (0.4) W·kg−1; 70% (7%) MAP (3.9 [0.4] W·kg−1 and 3.6 [0.4] W·kg−1 for males and females, respectively) with a cadence of 64 (5) rev·min−1 (including nonpedaling periods). Time spent in intensity zones 1 to 4 (below MAP) were 28% (4%), 18% (8%), 12% (2%), and 13% (3%), respectively; 30% (9%) was spent in zone 5 (above MAP). The number of efforts above MAP was 334 (84), which had a mean duration of 4.3 (1.1) seconds, separated by 10.9 (3) seconds with a mean power output of 7.3 (0.6) W·kg−1 (135% [9%] MAP). Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of the anaerobic energy system and the interaction between anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. Therefore, the ability to perform numerous efforts above MAP and a high aerobic capacity are essential to be competitive in mountain bike cross-country.

Prinz, Simon, and Nimmerichter are with the Training and Sports Sciences, University of Applied Sciences, Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Prinz and Tschan are with the Centre for Sport Science and University Sports, University of Vienna, Austria.

Nimmerichter (alfred.nimmerichter@fhwn.ac.at) is corresponding author.
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