Aim: Professional cycling is considered one of the most demanding of all endurance sports. The three major professional cycling stages races (i.e. Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España) require cyclists to compete daily covering between ~150-200 km for three consecutive weeks. Anecdotal evidence indicates that such an event has a significant effect on the sleep, mood, and general well-being of cyclists, particularly during the latter stages of the event. The primary aim of this study was to simulate a grand tour and determine the impact a grand tour has on the sleep, mood, and general well-being of competitive cyclists.
Methods: Twenty-one male cyclists (M±SD, age 22.2±2.7 years) were examined for 39 days across three phases (i.e. baseline, simulated grand tour, and recovery). Sleep was assessed using sleep diaries and wrist activity monitors. Mood and general well-being were assessed using the Brunel Mood Scale (BRUMS) and Visual Analogue Scales (VAS).
Results: The amount and quality of sleep as assessed by the wrist activity monitors declined during the simulated grand tour. In contrast, self-reported sleep quality improved throughout the study. Cyclists' mood and general well-being as indicated by vigour, motivation, physical and mental state declined during the simulated tour.
Conclusion: Future investigations should examine sleep, mood and well-being during an actual grand tour. Such data could prove instrumental toward understanding the sleep and psychological changes that occur during a grand tour.