Recent psychophysiological models of endurance performance explained that pacing strategies and exercise-intensity regulation influence cyclists’ ability to produce high mean power output (PO) during time trials (TTs). However, the relationships between these pacing strategies and psychological parameters of the athletes remain unknown. Purpose: To determine the impact of pacing strategies on cyclists’ mean PO during an elite TT championship and to identify the relationships between these pacing strategies and psychological parameters. Methods: Mean PO, projected frontal area, attentional focus, and pleasure were recorded for 9 male cyclists during an official individual TT national championship. Pacing regulations were quantified from PO using the new exposure variation analysis, which determines times spent at adapted PO for optimal constant-pacing strategy (APO) and inaccurate PO for optimal constant-pacing strategy (IPO). Relationships between mean PO, times spent at APO and IPO, and psychological variables were analyzed. Results: Significant relationships were found between mean PO and exposure variation analysis pacing parameters (r2 .56–.86, P > .05). Time spent at IPO was negatively related to pleasure during the individual TT (r = −.746, P = .016). Conversely, time spent at APO was significantly related to cyclists’ attentional focus (r = .827, P = .006). Conclusions: Mean PO during elite individual TTs is directly related to athletes’ ability to optimally regulate pace throughout the event. This pacing regulation is influenced by attentional focus and pleasure, underlining that coaches and athletes should devote greater attention to these psychological parameters to improve their performances.
Theo Ouvrard, Alain Groslambert and Frederic Grappe
Anthony Bouillod, Julien Pinot, Flavien Soenen, Theo Ouvrard and Frederic Grappe
To analyze the effect of the pedaling activity in different 4-min time trials (TT4s) (laboratory and field conditions) and compare TT4 and maximal aerobic power (MAP) determined from the classical incremental exercise test in laboratory. It was hypothesized that the exercises performed on the field would determine higher physical (power output [PO]) and mental involvements due to different environmental conditions.
Sixteen male cyclists underwent an incremental test to exhaustion and 3 TT4s under different conditions: cycle ergometer (CE), level ground (LG), and uphill (UP).
Correlation was observed for PO with a trivial effect size and narrow limits of agreement between MAP and CE TT4 (r = .96, P < .001). The comparison between the CE, LG, and UP tests indicates that PO was significantly higher in UP than in CE (+8.0%, P < .001) and LG (+11.0%, P < .001).
The results suggest that PO depends on the nature of the pedaling activity. Moreover, PO under CE TT4 is a relevant predictor of MAP. It seems important to measure MAP by taking into account the cycling conditions, considering that coaches and scientists use this parameter to assess the aerobic potential of athletes and determine the exercise intensities useful for monitoring adaptation to training.
Theo Ouvrard, Alain Groslambert, Gilles Ravier, Sidney Grosprêtre, Philippe Gimenez and Frederic Grappe
Purpose: To identify the impact of a leading teammate in front of a cyclist on psychological, physiological, biomechanical, and performance parameters during an uphill maximal effort. Methods: After familiarization, 12 well-trained competitive cyclists completed 2 uphill time trials (UTTs, 2.7 km at 7.4%) in randomized order; that is, 1 performed alone (control condition) and 1 followed a simulated teammate during the entire UTT (leader condition). Performance (UTT time) and mean power output (PO) were recorded for each UTT. For physiological parameters, mean heart rate and postexercise blood lactate concentration were recorded. Psychological parameters (rating of perceived exertion, pleasure, and attentional focus) were collected at the end of each trial. Results: Performance (UTT time) significantly improved by 4.2% (3.1%) in the leader condition, mainly due to drafting decrease of the aerodynamic drag (58% of total performance gains) and higher end spurt (+9.1% [9.1%] of mean PO in the last 10% of the UTT). However, heart rate and postexercise blood lactate concentration were not significantly different between conditions. From a psychological aspect, higher pleasure was observed in the leader condition (+41.1% [51.7%]), but attentional focus was not significantly different. Conclusions: The presence of a leading teammate during uphill cycling had a strong impact on performance, enabling higher speed for the same mean PO and greater end spurt. These results explain why the best teams competing for the general classification of the most prestigious and contested races like the Grand Tours tend to always protect their leader with teammates during decisive ascents.