Power Profile of Top 5 Results in World Tour Cycling Races

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: This study evaluated the power profile of a top 5 result achieved in World Tour cycling races of varying types, namely: flat sprint finish, semi-mountain race with a sprint finish, semi-mountain race with uphill finish, and mountain races (MT). Methods: Power output data from 33 professional cyclists were collected between 2012 and 2019. This large data set was filtered so that it only included top 5 finishes in World Tour races (18 participants and 177 races). Each of these top 5 finishes were subsequently classified as flat sprint finish, semi-mountain race with uphill finish, semi-mountain race with a sprint finish, and MT based on set criteria. Maximal mean power output (MMP) for a wide range of durations (5 s to 60 min), expressed in both absolute (in Watts) and relative terms (in Watts per kilogram), were assessed for each race type. Result: Short-duration power outputs (<60 s), both in relative and in absolute terms, are of higher importance to be successful in flat sprint finish and semi-mountain race with a sprint finish. Longer-duration power outputs (≥3 min) are of higher importance to be successful in semi-mountain race with uphill finish and MT. In addition, relative power outputs of >10 minutes seem to be a key determining factor for success in MT. These race-type specific MMPs of importance (ie, short-duration MMPs for sprint finishes, longer-duration MMPs for races with more elevation gain) are performed at a wide range (80%–97%) of the cyclist’s personal best MMP. Conclusions: This study shows that the relative importance of certain points on the power–duration spectrum varies with different race types and provides insight into benchmarks for achieving a result in a World Tour cycling race.

van Erp and Lamberts are with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dept of Sport Science, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Sanders is with the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Dept of Human Movement Science, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Sanders (dajosanders@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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