Advertisement

Road gradient and cycling power: An observational study in male professional cyclists

Published:October 06, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2022.10.001

      Abstract

      Objectives

      To investigate the influence of road gradient on cycling power output in male professional cyclists, and to determine whether cyclist typology (i.e., flat or climbing specialist) moderates this influence.

      Design

      Observational study.

      Methods

      Ninety-eight professional cyclists (27 ± 6 years; 53 flat and 45 climbing specialists). We collected power output data during both training sessions and competitions over 10 years (2013–2022). We determined the maximal mean power values attained for efforts lasting 1, 5, 10 and 20 min, during both level cycling and uphill cycling (average slope< or ≥5 %, respectively), as well as the average road gradients on which cyclists attained their maximal mean power.

      Results

      Maximal mean power values were higher during uphill cycling than during level cycling for all effort durations (difference ranging between 0.4 and 3.6 %, all p < 0.003). This finding was confirmed for flat and uphill specialists separately (p < 0.003 for both), with a similar increase in maximal mean power values between level cycling and uphill cycling in the two typologies except for longer efforts (≥10 min), in which maximal mean power values tended to increase more in climbers. Participants attained maximal mean power at an average slope of 6.0–7.3 %, with no differences between effort durations or cyclist typologies.

      Conclusions

      Professional cyclists attain higher maximal mean power values on steep than on level road gradients regardless of their typology, with an average gradient of 6–7 % appearing optimal (or at least the most common) for achieving the highest maximal mean power values.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Passfield L.
        • Hopker J.G.
        • Jobson S.
        • et al.
        Knowledge is power: issues of measuring training and performance in cycling.
        J Sports Sci. 2017; 35: 1426-1434https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1215504
        • Leo P.
        • Spragg J.
        • Podlogar T.
        • et al.
        Power profiling and the power-duration relationship in cycling: a narrative review.
        Eur J Appl Physiol. 2022; 122: 301-316https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-021-04833-y
        • Valenzuela P.L.
        • Muriel X.
        • van Erp T.
        • et al.
        The record power profile of male professional cyclists: normative values obtained from a large database.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022; 17: 701-710https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2021-0263
        • Mateo-March M.
        • van Erp T.
        • Muriel X.
        • et al.
        The record power profile in professional female cyclists: normative values obtained from a large database.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022; 17: 682-686https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2021-0372
        • Pinot J.
        • Grappe F.
        The record power profile to assess performance in elite cyclists.
        Int J Sports Med. 2011; 32: 839-844https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1279773
        • Mateo-March M.
        • Valenzuela P.L.
        • Muriel X.
        • et al.
        The record power profile of male professional cyclists: fatigue matters.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022; : 1-6https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2021-0403
        • Pöchmüller M.
        • Schwingshackl L.
        • Colombani P.C.
        • et al.
        A systematic review and meta-analysis of carbohydrate benefits associated with randomized controlled competition-based performance trials.
        J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016; 13: 1-12https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-016-0139-6
        • Mateo-March M.
        • Muriel X.
        • Valenzuela P.L.
        • et al.
        Altitude and endurance performance in altitude natives versus lowlanders.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2022; (Publish Ah): 1-8https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000002890
        • Valenzuela P.L.
        • Mateo-March M.
        • Zabala M.
        • et al.
        Ambient temperature and field-based cycling performance: insights from male and female professional cyclists.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022; 1: 1-5https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2021-0508
        • Nimmerichter A.
        • Eston R.
        • Bachl N.
        • et al.
        Effects of low and high cadence interval training on power output in flat and uphill cycling time-trials.
        Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012; 112: 69-78https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1957-5
        • Hovorka M.
        • Leo P.
        • Simon D.
        • et al.
        Effects of flat and uphill cycling on the power-duration relationship.
        Int J Sports Med. 2022; https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1749-5884
        • Emanuele U.
        • Denoth J.
        Influence of road incline and body position on power-cadence relationship in endurance cycling.
        Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012; 112: 2433-2441https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-2213-8
        • Gandia Soriano A.
        • Carpes F.P.
        • Rodríguez Fernández A.
        • et al.
        Effect of cycling specialization on effort and physiological responses to uphill and flat cycling at similar intensity.
        Eur J Sport Sci. 2021; 21: 854-860https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2020.1785016
        • Pallares J.G.
        • Hernández-Belmonte A.
        • Valenzuela P.L.
        • et al.
        Field-derived maximal power output in cycling: an accurate indicator of maximal performance capacity?.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022; (in press)https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2022-0208
        • Miller M.C.
        • Macdermid P.W.
        • Fink P.W.
        • et al.
        Agreement between Powertap, Quarq and Stages power meters for cross-country mountain biking.
        Sport Technol. 2015; 8: 44-50https://doi.org/10.1080/19346182.2015.1108979
        • Maier T.
        • Schmid L.
        • Müller B.
        • et al.
        Accuracy of cycling power meters against a mathematical model of treadmill cycling.
        Int J Sports Med. 2017; 38: 456-461https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0043-102945
        • Millet G.P.
        • Tronche C.
        • Fuster N.
        • et al.
        Level ground and uphill cycling efficiency in seated and standing positions.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002; 34: 1645-1652https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200210000-00017
        • Arkesteijn M.
        • Jobson S.A.
        • Hopker J.
        • et al.
        Effect of gradient on cycling gross efficiency and technique.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013; 45: 920-926https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e31827d1bdb
        • Bertucci W.
        • Grappe F.
        • Girard A.
        • et al.
        Effects on the crank torque profile when changing pedalling cadence in level ground and uphill road cycling.
        J Biomech. 2005; 38: 1003-1010https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2004.05.037
        • Tang Y.
        • Wang D.
        • Wang Y.
        • et al.
        Do surface slope and posture influence lower extremity joint kinetics during cycling?.
        Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020; 17https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082846
        • Nimmerichter A.
        • Prinz B.
        • Haselsberger K.
        • et al.
        Gross efficiency during flat and uphill cycling in field conditions.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015; 10: 830-834https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2014-0373
        • Jones A.M.
        • Vanhatalo A.
        • Burnley M.
        • et al.
        Critical power: implications for determination of ⊙ O2max and exercise tolerance.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010; 42: 1876-1890https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181d9cf7f
        • Muriel X.
        • Hernández-Belmonte A.
        • Mateo-March M.
        • et al.
        Is the record power profile repeatable? A practical analysis and interpretation in professional cyclists.
        J Strength Cond Res. 2022; (In press)
        • Menaspà P.
        • Impellizzeri F.M.
        • Haakonssen E.C.
        • et al.
        Consistency of commercial devices for measuring elevation gain.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014; 9: 884-886https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSPP.2013-0232
        • Menaspà P.
        • Menaspá P.
        • Haakonssen E.
        • et al.
        Accuracy in measurement of elevation gain in road cycling. Accuracy in measurement of elevation gain in road cycling.
        J Sci Cycl. 2016; 5: 10-12