Exercise intensity and load during mass-start stage races in professional road cycling


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Abstract

PADILLA, S., I. MUJIKA, J. ORBAÑANOS, J. SANTISTEBAN, F. ANGULO, and J. J. GOIRIENA. Exercise intensity and load during mass-start stage races in professional road cycling. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 33, No. 5, 2001, pp. 796–802. Purpose:To evaluate exercise intensity and load during mass-start stages in professional road cycling, using competition heart rate (HR) recordings. Methods:Seventeen world-class cyclists performed an incremental laboratory test during which maximal power output (Wmax), maximal HR (HRmax), onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA), lactate threshold (LT), and a HR-power output relationship were assessed. An OBLAZONE (HROBLA ± 3 beats·min-1) and an LTZONE (HRLT ± 3 beats·min-1) were described. HR was monitored during 125 flat (<13 km uphill, < 800-m altitude change; FLAT), 99 semi-mountainous (13–35 km uphill, 800- to 2000-m altitude change; SEMO), and 86 high-mountain (>35 km uphill, > 2000-m altitude change; HIMO) stages. Each cyclist’s competition power output was estimated from competition HR and individual HR-power output relationships. Competition training impulse (TRIMP) values and time spent at “easy,” “moderate,” and “hard” zones were estimated from HR and race duration. Results:Average %HRmax were 61 ± 5%, 58 ± 6%, and 51 ± 7% in HIMO, SEMO, and FLAT stages, respectively, and estimated average power outputs were 246 ± 44, 234 ± 43, and 192 ± 45 W. Competition HR values relative to HROBLA and HRLT were, respectively, 69 ± 6, 79 ± 9% in HIMO; 65 ± 7, 74 ± 11% in SEMO; and 57 ± 8, 65 ± 10% in FLAT stages. The amount of TRIMP in HIMO, SEMO, and FLAT stages were, respectively, 215 ± 38, 172 ± 31, and 156 ± 31. Percentage time spent in the “moderate” and “hard” zones was highest in HIMO (22 ± 14, 5 ± 6%) followed by SEMO (15 ± 13, 5 ± 5%) and FLAT (9 ± 7, 2 ± 2%) stages. Conclusions:%HRmax, time distribution around HROBLA and HRLT, TRIMP, and load zones reflected the physiological demands of different mass-start cycling stage categories. The knowledge of these demands could be useful for planning precompetition training strategies.

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