Turner, L. A., Tecklenburg-Lund, S., Thomas, K., Gibson, A., & Mickleborough, T. D. (2013). Variability of pacing strategies adopted by different category cyclists. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 597.

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This study assessed the variability in pacing strategies adopted by different USA Cycling racing category cyclists during and between repeated 20-km cycling time-trials. Well-trained male cyclists (Cat 1/2, N = 5; Cat 3, N = 6; Cat 4/5, N = 6) completed two, 20-km time-trials on a Velotron cycle ergometer. Trials were separated by three to seven days. Power output and cadence were continuously monitored throughout the trials, with heart rate being recorded at every 5-minute interval. Dependent measures were average power, speed, and cadence, which were calculated for every 1-km of all trials, and time to complete the 20-km time-trials. Power output for each 1-km was expressed relative to the mean overall trial power-output to quantify pacing strategy.

Mean power output was not different between trials for each USAC category nor was mean time-trial performance. There was a significant effect of cycling category on performance time with the highest category (Cat 1/2) recording the fastest average time. The higher category cyclists (Cat 1/2) adopted a more even-paced strategy during the 20-km time-trial compared to the Cat 3 and Cat 4/5 Ss, where a ‘fast start’ strategy during the first km and an ‘end-spurt’ during the final km were adopted. The variability in the pacing strategy between repeat time-trials was lower in Cat 1/2 cyclists compared to Cat 3 and Cat 4/5. A higher degree of variability was shown in Cat 1/2 at the start and end of the trial, while Cat 3 and Cat 4/5 cyclists exhibited a greater degree of variability between trials during the first 1-km of the trial.

Implication. Category 1/2 cyclists exhibited a more consistent pacing profile than Cat 3 and Cat 4/5 cyclists. The variability of the pacing strategy between repeated trials was lower in cyclists in the higher categories, indicating that previous experience and performance level may influence the consistency of the pacing strategy.

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