Comparison of male and female road cyclists under identical stage race conditions

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 May;43(5):846-52. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181fcea8d.


Purpose: To compare the demands of a 6-d stage race using field measures of power output and HR in male (n=8) and female (n=10) competitive cyclists.

Methods: HR and power output were monitored in males and females competing in separate races on identical courses including a prolog (4 km), four circuit/road races (mean ± SD: 118 ± 23 km), and a criterium (47 km). All subjects participated in laboratory-based exercise testing within 2 wk of the race.

Results: Compared with females, males took 10%, 22%, and 10% less time to complete the prolog, circuit/road races, and criterium, respectively. For males, power output in the prolog, circuit/road races, and criterium averaged 405, 247, and 278 W, respectively. For females, power output averaged 295, 160, and 205 W, respectively. During the prolog, the percent time spent below, at, and above the lactate threshold was 29%, 9%, and 62%, respectively, for males and 24%, 7%, and 69%, respectively, for females. For the circuit/road races, these values were 57%, 10%, and 33%, respectively, for males and 62%, 10%, and 28%, respectively, for females. During the criterium, these values were 51%, 6%, and 43%, respectively, for males, and 50%, 8%, and 42%, respectively, for females.

Conclusions: Although men had faster finishing times and higher absolute power outputs, no significant difference was found between men and women in their relative power response. These findings suggest that pacing strategy is based on relative exercise responses and not on absolute exercise responses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Pennsylvania
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports
  • Telemetry
  • Young Adult