Effects of cycling alone or in a sheltered position on subsequent running performance during a triathlon

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The purpose of this study was to compare the responses during a triathlon in which cycling was performed alone, as well as in a drafting position.


Eight male triathletes of international level performed a sprint-distance triathlon (0.75-km swim, 20-km bike, 5-km run) on two different occasions, one completely alone (TA), the other as a drafter during the bike leg of the event (TD). The speed during drafted cycling remained at all times identical to the no-draft situation.


The results revealed that expiratory flow (JOURNAL/mespex/04.02/00005768-199904000-00018/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T222658Z/r/image-pngE), oxygen uptake (JOURNAL/mespex/04.02/00005768-199904000-00018/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T222658Z/r/image-pngO2), heart rate (HR), and blood lactate concentrations ([La−]) were significantly lower when drafting on the bike as opposed to biking alone (112.1 vs 162.2 L·min−1, 55.2 vs 64.2 mL·min−1·kg−1, 155 vs 166.8 beats·min−1, and 4.0 vs 8.4 mmol·L−1, respectively). The results also showed that running after biking in a drafting situation (for similar bike speeds) significantly improved the running speed compared with that of the no-draft modality (17.8 vs 17.1 km·h−1). Furthermore, JOURNAL/mespex/04.02/00005768-199904000-00018/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T222658Z/r/image-pngE, JOURNAL/mespex/04.02/00005768-199904000-00018/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T222658Z/r/image-pngO2, HR, and [La−] were significantly higher during TD run compared with TA run (161.6 vs 141.4 L·min−1, 70.9 vs 67.1 mL·min−1·kg−1, 175.3 vs 167.9 8 beats·min−1, and 8.1 vs 7.6 mmol·L−1, respectively).


These results showed that drafting allows triathletes to save significantly on energy during the bike leg of a triathlon and creates the conditions for an improved running performance, with higher benefits for the strong runners.

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