Development of cycling performance-variables and durability in female and male national team cyclists: From junior to senior

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Nicki Winfield Almquist
  • Joar Hansen
  • Bent R Rønnestad

Aim: This study investigated the development of power profiles and performance-related measures from the junior level (<19 years) via U23 (19-23 years) to senior level (>23 years) in 19 female and 100 male Norwegian national team cyclists.

Methods: A total of 285 tests were performed in a 3-day laboratory-standardized testing regime. The tests included power profiles with shorter duration (6-60 s) and longer durations (12-30 min) together with performance-related measures: Critical power (CP), work capacity above CP (W'), power output at 4 and 2 mmol·L-1 [BLa-] (L4 and L2), maximal aerobic power (Wmax), and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), gross efficiency (GE), and pedalling efficiency.

Results: Females and males evolve similarly when maturing from junior via U23 to senior categories (all p > 0.07), except for VO2max which increased in females (but not males) from junior to senior level (534 ± 436 ml·min-1, p = 0.013). In general, only performances of longer durations improved with age (12-min and 30-min, p = 0.028, and p = 0.042, respectively). Performance-related measures like Wmax, VO2max, CP, L4, L2, and pedalling efficiency in the fresh state improved with age (all p ≤ 0.025). Importantly, performance in the semi-fatigued state during a 5-min maximal test, was also improved with age (p = 0.045) despite a higher external energy expenditure prior to the test (p = 0.026).

Conclusions: Junior cyclists show highly developed sprint-abilities, and the primary improvements of absolute power outputs and performance-related measures are seen for durations >60 s when maturing to U23 and senior categories. However, the durability, i.e., the capacity to maintain performance in a semi-fatigued state is improved with age.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2053-2063
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 by the American College of Sports Medicine.

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Fatigue-resistance, Cycling economy, TT, Laboratory testing, Elite cyclists

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