Changes in Cycling Efficiency during a Competitive Season

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Abstract

Purpose:

To monitor training-related changes in gross efficiency (GE) over the course of a competitive cycling season.

Methods:

Fourteen trained cyclists (mean ± SD: 34 + 8 yr, 74.3 ± 7.4 kg, Wmax = 406 ± 43 W, V˙O2max = 59.5 ± 3.8 mL· kg−1·min−1) with at least 3 yr competitive experience completed five laboratory tests during a competitive cycling season. The tests measured lactate threshold (LT), onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA), maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max), maximal minute power (Wmax), and GE. The data were analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA and Pearson's product-moment correlation coefficient.

Results:

GE changed significantly over the course of the competitive cycling season (P < 0.05), increasing over the precompetition phase of the season (19.6% vs 20.6%; P < 0.05). GE was maintained during the main competitive phase of the season (20.6% vs 20.3%; P > 0.05) and then decreased during the postcompetitive phase to 19.4% (P < 0.05). The precompetition changes in GE were related to the total time spent training and the time spent above OBLA intensity (r = 0.84 and 0.80, respectively). Riders who spent the most time training between LT and OBLA intensities (r = 0.87; P < 0.05) were better able to maintain GE. A significant inverse relationship was also identified between the changes in GE and the percentage change in training below LT over the competitive phase of the season.

Conclusion:

GE changes over the course of a competitive cycling season and is related to the volume and intensity of training conducted.

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