Maintaining Power Output with Accumulating Levels of Work Done Is a Key Determinant for Success in Professional Cycling

T. Van Erp, D. Sanders, R.P. Lamberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction This study aimed to investigate if performance measures are related to success in professional cycling and to highlight the influence of prior work done on these performance measures and success. Methods Power output data from 26 professional cyclists, in a total of 85 seasons, collected between 2012 and 2019, were analyzed. The cyclists were classified as "climber" or "sprinter" and into category 1 (CAT.1; >= 400 PCSpoints (successful)) and CAT.2 (<400 PCSpoints (less successful)), based on the number of procyclingstats-points (PCSpoints) collected for that particular season. Maximal mean power outputs (MMP) for 20 min, 5 min, 1 min, and 10 s relative to body weight for every season were determined. To investigate the influence of prior work done on these MMP values, six different levels of completed work done were determined, which are based on the amount of completed kilojoules per kilogram (0, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 kJ center dot kg(-1)). Subsequently, the decline in MMP for each duration (if any) after each level of completed work done was evaluated. Results Mixed model revealed that prior work done affects the performance of climbers and sprinters negatively. However, CAT.1 climbers have a smaller decline in 20- and 5-min MMP after high amounts of work done compared with CAT.2 climbers. Similarly, CAT.1 sprinters have a smaller decline in 10-s and 1-min MMP after high amounts of work done compared with CAT.2 sprinters. Conclusions It seems that the ability to maintain high MMP (corresponding with the specialization of a cyclist) after high amounts of work done (i.e., fatigue) is an important parameter for success in professional cyclists. These findings suggest that assessing changes in MMP after different workloads might be highly relevant in professional cycling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1903-1910
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


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