Determination of optimal pacing strategy in track cycling with an energy flow model

J Sci Med Sport. 1999 Oct;2(3):266-77. doi: 10.1016/s1440-2440(99)80178-9.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of pacing strategies on performance times in the 1000 m time trial event and the 4000 m pursuit event in track cycling. For this purpose, we simulated these events with a model based on the flow of energy in cycling. Different strategies in distributing the available anaerobic energy were evaluated and we compared model predictions of split times and final times with values achieved by cyclists during championships. The best result at the 1000 m time trial was obtained when the cyclist had the highest anaerobic peak power output and used an 'all-out' strategy. The fastest time on the 4000 m pursuit was achieved with an 'all-out' start at a high level of initial power output, followed by a constant anaerobic power output after 12 seconds, resulting in an evenly paced race. The results show that even small variations in pacing strategy may have substantial effects on performance. There seems to be an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage when individual athletes experiment with small variations in pacing strategy to find the precise individual strategy that works best under specific conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology