Level ground and uphill cycling ability in professional road cycling

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Jun;31(6):878-85. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199906000-00017.


Purpose: To evaluate the physiological capacities and performance of professional road cyclists in relation to their morphotype-dependent speciality.

Methods: 24 world-class cyclists, classified as flat terrain (FT, N = 5), time trial (TT, N = 4), all terrain (AT, N = 6). and uphill (UH, N = 9) specialists, completed an incremental laboratory cycling test to assess maximal power output (Wmax), maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), lactate threshold (LT), and onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA).

Results: UH had a higher frontal area (FA):body mass (BM) ratio (5.23 +/- 0.09 m2 x kg(-1) x 10(-3)) than FT and TT (P < 0.05). FT showed the highest absolute Wmax (481 +/- 18 W), and UH the highest Wmax relative to BM (6.47 +/- 0.33 W x kg(-1)). WLT and W(OBLA) values were significantly higher in FT (356 +/- 41 and 417 +/- 45 W) and TT (357 +/- 41 and 409 +/- 46 W) than in UH (308 +/- 46 and 356 +/- 41). Scaling of these values relative to FA and BM exponents 0.32 and 0.79 minimized group differences, but considerable differences among mean group values remained. FT and TT had the highest Wmax per FA unit (1300 +/- 62 and 1293 +/- 57 W x m2), whereas TT had the highest absolute W x kg(-0.32) and W x kg(-0.79), as well as W x kg(-0.32), W x kg(-0.79), and W x m2 at the LT and OBLA.

Conclusions: i) Scaling of maximal and submaximal physiological values showed a performance advantage of TT over FT, AT, and UH in all cycling terrains and conditions; and ii) mass exponents of 0.32 and 1 were the most appropriate to evaluate level and uphill cycling ability, respectively, whereas absolute Wmax values are recommended for performance-prediction in short events on level terrain, and W(LT) and W(OBLA) in longer time trials and uphill cycling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Body Composition
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*


  • Lactic Acid