Power profiles of competitive and non-competitive mountain bikers.

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Abstract

The performance of Olympic distance cross-country mountain bikers (XCO-MTB) is affected by constraints such as erosion of track surfaces and mass start congestion which can affect race results. Standardised laboratory assessments quantify inter-seasonal and intra-seasonal cycling potential through the assessment of multiple physiological capacities. Therefore, this study examined whether the power profile assessment could discriminate between competitive XCO-MTB and non-competitive mountain bikers (NC-MTB). Secondly, it aimed to report normative power profile data for competitive XCO-MTB cyclists. Twenty-nine male participants were recruited across groups of XCO-MTB (n=14) and NC-MTB (n=15) mountain bikers. Each cyclist completed a power profile assessment that consisted of increasing duration maximal efforts (6, 15, 30, 60, 240 and 600 s) that were interspersed by longer rest periods (174, 225, 330, 480 and 600 s) between efforts. Normative power outputs were established for XCO-MTB cyclists ranging between 13.8 ± 1.5 W·kg-1 (5 s effort) to 4.1 ± 0.6 W·kg-1 (600 s effort). No differences in absolute peak power or cadence were identified between groups across any effort length (p>0.05). However, the XCO-MTB cyclists produced greater mean power outputs relative to body mass than the NC-MTB during the 60 s (6.9 ± 0.8 vs 6.4 ± 0.6 W·kg-1; p=0.002), 240 s (4.7 ± 0.7 vs 3.8 ± 0.4 W·kg-1; p<0.001) and 600 s (4.1 ± 0.6 vs 3.4 ± 0.3 W·kg-1; p<0.001) efforts. The power profile assessment is a useful discriminative assessment tool for XCO-MTB and highlights the importance of aerobic power for XCO-MTB performance.

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