Purpose: To examine the power-output distribution and sprint characteristics of professional female road cyclists. Methods: A total of 31 race files, representing top 5 finishes, were collected from 7 professional female cyclists. Files were analyzed for sprint characteristics, including mean and peak power output, velocity, and duration. The final 20 min before the sprint was analyzed to determine the mean maximal power output (MMP) consistent with durations of 5, 15, 30, 60, 240, and 600 s. Throughout the race, the number of efforts for each duration exceeding 80% of its corresponding final 20-min MMP (MMP80) was determined. The number of 15-s efforts exceeding 80% of the mean final sprint power output (MSP80) was determined. Results: Sprint finishes lasted 21.8 (6.7) s with mean and peak power outputs of 679 (101) and 886 (91) W, respectively. Throughout the race, additional 5-, 15-, and 30-s efforts above MMP80 were completed in the 5th compared with the 1st–4th quintiles of the race. The 60-s efforts were greater during the 5th quintile compared with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quintiles, and during the 3rd compared with the 4th quintile. More 240-s efforts were recorded during the 5th compared with the 1st and 4th quintiles. About 82% of the 15-s efforts above MSP80 were completed in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th quintiles of the race. Conclusions: These data demonstrate the variable nature of women’s professional cycling and the physical demands necessary for success, thus providing information that could enhance in-race decision making and the development of race-specific training programs.
Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Chris R. Abbiss, Eric C. Haakonssen, and Paolo Menaspà
Paolo Menaspà, Franco M. Impellizzeri, Eric C. Haakonssen, David T. Martin, and Chris R. Abbiss
To determine the consistency of commercially available devices used for measuring elevation gain in outdoor activities and sports.
Two separate observational validation studies were conducted. Garmin (Forerunner 310XT, Edge 500, Edge 750, and Edge 800; with and without elevation correction) and SRM (Power Control 7) devices were used to measure total elevation gain (TEG) over a 15.7-km mountain climb performed on 6 separate occasions (6 devices; study 1) and during a 138-km cycling event (164 devices; study 2).
TEG was significantly different between the Garmin and SRM devices (P < .05). The between-devices variability in TEG was lower when measured with the SRM than with the Garmin devices (study 1: 0.2% and 1.5%, respectively). The use of the Garmin elevation-correction option resulted in a 5–10% increase in the TEG.
While measurements of TEG were relatively consistent within each brand, the measurements differed between the SRM and Garmin devices by as much as 3%. Caution should be taken when comparing elevation-gain data recorded with different settings or with devices of different brands.
Eric C. Haakonssen, David T. Martin, David G. Jenkins, and Louise M. Burke
This study investigated the satisfaction of elite female cyclists with their body weight (BW) in the context of race performance, the magnitude of BW manipulation, and the association of these variables with menstrual function.
Female competitors in the Australian National Road Cycling Championships (n = 32) and the Oceania Championships (n = 5) completed a questionnaire to identify current BW, BW fluctuations, perceived ideal BW for performance, frequency of weight consciousness, weight-loss techniques used, and menstrual regularity.
All but 1 cyclist reported that female cyclists are “a weight-conscious population,” and 54% reported having a desire to change BW at least once weekly; 62% reported that their current BW was not ideal for performance. Their perceived ideal BW was (mean ± SD) 1.6 ± 1.6 kg (2.5% ± 2.5%) less than their current weight (P < .01), and 73% reported that their career-lowest BW was either “beneficial” or “extremely beneficial” for performance. 65% reported successfully reducing BW in the previous 12 months with a mean loss of 2.4 ± 1.0 kg (4.1% ± 1.9%). The most common weight-loss technique was reduced energy intake (76%). Five cyclists (14%) had been previously diagnosed as having an eating disorder by a physician. Of the 18 athletes not using a hormonal contraceptive, 11 reported menstrual dysfunction (oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea).
Elite Australian female cyclists are a weight-conscious population who may not be satisfied with their BW leading into a major competition and in some cases are frequently weight conscious.
Eric C. Haakonssen, David T. Martin, Louise M. Burke, and David G. Jenkins
Body composition in a female road cyclist was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (5 occasions) and anthropometry (10 occasions) at the start of the season (Dec to Mar), during a period of chronic fatigue associated with poor weight management (Jun to Aug), and in the following months of recovery and retraining (Aug to Nov). Dietary manipulation involved a modest reduction in energy availability to 30–40 kcal · kg fat-free mass−1 · d−1 and an increased intake of high-quality protein, particularly after training (20 g). Through the retraining period, total body mass decreased (−2.82 kg), lean mass increased (+0.88 kg), and fat mass decreased (−3.47 kg). Hemoglobin mass increased by 58.7 g (8.4%). Maximal aerobic- and anaerobic-power outputs were returned to within 2% of preseason values. The presented case shows that through a subtle energy restriction associated with increased protein intake and sufficient energy intake during training, fat mass can be reduced with simultaneous increases in lean mass, performance gains, and improved health.
Eric C. Haakonssen, Megan L. Ross, Louise E. Cato, Alisa Nana, Emma J. Knight, David G. Jenkins, David T. Martin, and Louise M. Burke
Some athletes avoid dairy in the meal consumed before exercise due to fears about gastrointestinal discomfort. Regular exclusion of dairy foods may unnecessarily reduce intake of high quality proteins and calcium with possible implications for body composition and bone health. This study compared the effects of meals that included (Dairy) or excluded (Control) dairy foods on gastric comfort and subsequent cycling performance. Well-trained female cyclists (n = 32; mean ± SD; 24.3 ± 4.1 y; VO2peak 57.1 ± 4.9 ml/kg/min) completed two trials (randomized cross-over design) in which they consumed a meal (2 g/kg carbohydrate and 54 kJ/kg) 2 hr before a 90-min cycle session (80 min at 60% maximal aerobic power followed by a 10-min time trial; TT). The dairy meal contained 3 servings of dairy foods providing ~1350 mg calcium. Gut comfort and palatability were measured using questionnaires. Performance was measured as maximum mean power during the TT (MMP10min). There was no statistical or clinical evidence of an effect of meal type on MMP10min with a mean difference (Dairy – Control) of 4 W (95% CI [–2, 9]). There was no evidence of an association between pretrial gut comfort and meal type (p = .15) or between gut comfort delta scores and meal type postmeal (p = .31), preexercise (p = .17) or postexercise (p = .80). There was no statistical or clinical evidence of a difference in palatability between meal types. In summary, substantial amounts of dairy foods can be included in meals consumed before strenuous cycling without impairing either gut comfort or performance.