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Teun van Erp, Marcel Kittel, and Robert P. Lamberts

Purpose: To describe the performance and tactical sprint characteristics of a world-class sprinter competing in the Tour de France. In addition, differences in the sprint tactics of 2 teams and won versus lost sprints are highlighted. Method: Power output (PO) and video footage of 21 sprints were analyzed. Position in the peloton and number of teammates supporting the sprinter at different times before the finish line together with PO for different time intervals were determined. Sprints were classified as team Shimano (2013–2014) and team Quick-step (2016–2017), as well as won or lost. Results: The sprinter was highly successful, winning 14 out of the 21 sprints. At time intervals 10 to 5, 3 to 2, and 1.5 to 1 minute, POs were significantly lower in team Quick-step compared with team Shimano, but the sprinter was positioned further away from the front at 10, 2, 1.5, 1, and 0.5 minutes at team Quick-step compared with team Shimano. The PO was higher at time interval 0.5 to 0.25 minutes before the finish line with team Quick-step when compared with team Shimano. The position of the sprinter in the peloton in lost sprints was further away from the front at 0.5 minutes before the finish compared with won sprints, while no differences were noted for PO and the number of teammates between won and lost sprints. Conclusions: Differences in sprint tactics (Shimano vs Quick-step) influence the PO and position in the peloton during the sprint preparation. In addition, the position at 0.5 minutes before the finish line influences the outcome (won or lost) of the sprint.

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Teun van Erp, Marcel Kittel, and Robert P. Lamberts

Purpose: To describe the intensity, load, and performance characteristics of a world-class sprinter competing in the Tour de France (TdF). Method: Power output (PO) data were collected from 4 editions of the TdF (2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017) and analyzed. Load, intensity distribution in 5 PO zones, and the maximal mean PO for multiple durations were quantified. Stages were divided in accordance with the 4 different editions of the TdF, as well as the 4 different stage types, that is, flat (FLAT), semimountainous (SMT), mountain (MT), and (team) time trials. In addition, based on their location within the stage, mountain passes were further classified as BEGINNING, MIDDLE, or END of the stage. Results: No differences in load, intensity, and performance characteristics were found when the 4 editions of the TdF were compared. Time trials were associated with higher intensities but a lower load compared to the other stage types. MT showed higher load and intensity values compared to FLAT and SMT stages. FLAT stages were higher in short maximal mean PO (≤1 min), whereas MT stages showed higher longer endurance maximal mean PO values (≥20 min). In addition, mountain passes situated at the BEGINNING of the stage were completed with a higher PO, cadence, and speed compared with mountain passes situated at the END. Conclusions: A world-class sprinter sustains a higher load and spends more time in the high-intensity zones when competing in the TdF than previously reported values suggested. To finish the MT stages as efficiently as possible, sprinters adopt a reverse pacing strategy.