FRONTAL SURFACE AREA AS A PREDICTOR OF CYCLING PERFORMANCE

  • Brian McLEAN
  • Lindsay Ellis

Abstract

The equation of motion of a cyclist indicates that at a constant velocity the largest morphological influence on the cyclists retarding force is the projected frontal surface area. Nevertheless, parameters profiling a cyclists physical ability such as V02 max, work done in a given time or the power output achieved at the anaerobic threshold are usually normalized to body mass when making comparisons between athletes. This study examined if cycling time trial performance could be better predicted from a physical parameter normalized to frontal surface area rather than normalized to body mass. A group (n=7) of male juvenile cyclists (14-16 yrs) and a group (n=l 1) of male junior cyclists (16-18 yrs) performed a five minute maximum effort test on a wind braked bicycle ergometer. Peak power and total work done were measured. Each cyclists frontal surface area on the bicycle was determined by a regression equation using height and weight (Mclean 1993). The juvenile cyclists competed in a 10 km flat time trial while the juniors competed in a 15 km flat time trial. Triathlon style aerodynamic handlebars were not used. For both the juvenile and junior groups correlation analysis showed that time trial time was better predicted by total work/FSA (r=-.82 and -.86 respectively) rather than by total work/body mass (I=-.53, I=-.74) or total work alone (I= .67 I= .65). It was concluded that parameters describing a cyclists physical ability should be normalized to FSA rather than body mass when making comparisons between athletes.
Section
Coaching and Sports Activities