Influence of Torque and Cadence on Power Output Production in Cyclists

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022 Dec 5;18(1):27-36. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2022-0233. Print 2023 Jan 1.


Purpose: No information is available on the torque/cadence relationship in road cyclists. We aimed to establish whether this relationship differs between cyclists of different performance levels or team roles.

Methods: Mean maximal power (MMP) output data from 177 riders were obtained from 2012 to 2021 from training and competitions. Cyclists were categorized according to their performance level (world-tour [WT, n = 68], procontinental [PC, n = 63], or under 23 [U23, n = 46]) and team role (time trialists [n = 12], all-rounders [n = 94], climbers [n = 64], or team leaders [n = 7]).

Results: A significant interaction effect was found for absolute and relative MMP (P < .001), with higher values in PC than WT for short (5-60 s) efforts and the opposite trend for longer durations. MMP was also greater in PC than in U23 for short efforts (30-60 s), with WT and PC attaining higher MMP than U23 for longer bouts (5-60 min). A significant interaction effect was found for cadence (P = .007, but with no post hoc differences) and absolute (P = .010) and relative torque (P = .002), with PC and WT showing significantly higher torque (all P < .05) than U23 for 5- to 60-minute efforts, yet with no differences between the former 2 performance levels. No interaction effect between team roles was found for cadence (P = .185) or relative torque (P = .559), but a significant interaction effect was found for absolute torque (P < .001), with all-rounders attaining significantly higher values than climbers for 5-second to 5-minute efforts.

Conclusions: Differences in MMP between cycling performance levels and rider types are dependent on torque rather than cadence, which might support the role of torque development in performance.

Keywords: mean maximal power output; performance; professional cycling.

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling*
  • Humans
  • Torque