The science of cycling: factors affecting performance - part 2

Sports Med. 2005;35(4):313-37. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200535040-00003.


This review presents information that is useful to athletes, coaches and exercise scientists in the adoption of exercise protocols, prescription of training regimens and creation of research designs. Part 2 focuses on the factors that affect cycling performance. Among those factors, aerodynamic resistance is the major resistance force the racing cyclist must overcome. This challenge can be dealt with through equipment technological modifications and body position configuration adjustments. To successfully achieve efficient transfer of power from the body to the drive train of the bicycle the major concern is bicycle configuration and cycling body position. Peak power output appears to be highly correlated with cycling success. Likewise, gear ratio and pedalling cadence directly influence cycling economy/efficiency. Knowledge of muscle recruitment throughout the crank cycle has important implications for training and body position adjustments while climbing. A review of pacing models suggests that while there appears to be some evidence in favour of one technique over another, there remains the need for further field research to validate the findings. Nevertheless, performance modelling has important implications for the establishment of performance standards and consequent recommendations for training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Bicycling / standards
  • Humans
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Sports Equipment*
  • United States