STEADY STATE PERFORMANCE OF ELITE CYCLISTS IN RECORD ATTEMPTS

  • Paul A. Wheeler
  • Richard PENSON

Abstract

The majority of world, Olympic and national records attempted by elite amateur .or professional cyclists may be considered as endurance events. The conditions undbr which these records are attempted suggest that the cyclist should be able to perform at a steady state at their physiological and biomechanical maximum. This paper considers this suggestion and demonstrates that the steady state condition is not achieved and therefore that certain assumptions may need review. The world records recognized by the UCI until recently were the SOOm, Ikm, 3km (women and juniors only), 4km, 5km, 1 Okm, 20km, IOOkm and the 1 Hour records, all from a standing (stationary) start. Three additional records are permitted a flying (rolling) start over 200m, 500m and lkm. Separate records existed for amateur and professional cyclists (also women and juniors) under a variety of circumstances; indoor or outdoor tracks and sea-level or altitude conditions. It is permissible to break records at the intermediate distances. Most of these records are unusual in comparison with most other sports as only the 200m flying start, 3km, 4km and 5km standing start records are directly comparable with competition performances. As a result most of these records are attempted simply because they exist and success tends to favour a dedicated attempt under ideal conditions, accordingly the majority of successful attempts have been made by professional road riders. Actual performances by top professionals and amateur riders have been examined and show that steady state performance is not achieved. Intermediate velocities show a variation of typically 5% about the mean velocity ultimately achieved. The degree of psychological and neuromuscular control exercised by such cyclists appears to indicate that better performances may be produced by improvements in "control skills" than "strength and endurance" for cyclists at such elite levels.
Section
Coaching and Sports Activities