Purpose: To determine the relationship that exists between VO2max and cycling economy/efficiency during intense, submaximal exercise in world-class road professional cyclists. METHODS Each of 11 male cyclists (26+/-1 yr (mean +/- SEM); VO2max: 72.0 +/- 1.8 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)) performed: 1) a ramp test for O2max determination and 2) a constant-load test of 20-min duration at the power output eliciting 80% of subjects' VO2max during the previous ramp test (mean power output of 385 +/- 7 W). Cycling economy (CE) and gross mechanical efficiency (GE) were calculated during the constant-load tests.
Results: CE and GE averaged 85.2 +/- 2.3 W x L(-1) x min(-1) and 24.5 +/- 0.7%, respectively. An inverse, significant correlation was found between 1) VO2max (mL x kg(-0.32) x min(-1)) and both CE (r = -0.71; P = 0.01) and GE (-0.72; P = 0.01), and 2) VO2max (mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)) and both CE (r = -0.65; P = 0.03) and GE (-0.64; P = 0.03).
Conclusions: A high CE/GE seems to compensate for a relatively low VO2max in professional cyclists.