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Sports Medicine

, Volume 31, Issue 7, pp 469–477 | Cite as

Physiological Characteristics of Nationally Competitive Female Road Cyclists and Demands of Competition

  • David T. Martin
  • Brian McLean
  • Cassie Trewin
  • Hamilton Lee
  • James Victor
  • Allan G. Hahn
Review Article

Abstract

There are few published data describing female cyclists and the studies available are difficult to interpret because of the classification of athletes. In this review, cyclists are referred to as either internationally competitive (International Cycling Union world rankings provided when available) or nationally competitive. Based on the limited data available it appears that the age, height, body mass (BM) and body composition of women cyclists who have been selected to the US and Australian National Road Cycling Teams from 1980 to 2000 are fairly similar. Female cyclists who have become internationally competitive are generally between 21 to 28 years of age, 162 to 174cm, 55.4 to 58.8kg and 38 to 51mm (sum of 7 skinfolds) corresponding to 7 to 12% body fat. The lower BM and percentage body fat are traits unique to the most competitive women. Internationally competitive women cyclists also possess a slightly superior ability to produce a high absolute power output for a fixed time period and a noticeably greater ability to produce power output relative to BM. In Women’s World Cup races, successful women (top 20 places) spend more time <7.5W/kg (11 ± 2 vs 7 ± 2%, p < 0.01) and less time <0.75 W/kg (24 ± 4 vs 29 ± 3%, p = 0.05) compared with non-top 20 placed riders. Additionally, cyclists in the top 20 produced higher average power (3.6 ± 0.4 vs 3.1 ± 0.1 W/kg, p = 0.01). Unlike professional men’s road cycling, the physiological characteristics of internationally competitive female road cyclists and the demands of women’s cycling competition are poorly understood.

Keywords

Average Power Output Peak Power Output Race Time National Team Female Cyclist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all the members of the Australian Women’s Road Cycling Team from 1997-2000 who have embraced the process of monitoring fitness and the demands of competition. Special thanks to Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch, the AIS mechanic, for all his help mounting SRM cranks and ensuring that this equipment was in race condition. Dr. Alan Roberts and the members of the AIS Department of Physiology have been incredibly helpful during both laboratory and field-testing sessions. Evan Lawton has also been extremely helpful throughout these studies, making sure that laboratory equipment, including SRM cranks were calibrated and operating properly. This manuscript has been noticeably improved based on the many constructive comments provided by Dr. Garry Palmer and Dr. John Hawley. Funding for this research was provided by the Australian Sports Commission, the Department of Physiology at the Australian Institute of Sport, and the Australian Olympic Athlete Programme.

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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David T. Martin
    • 1
  • Brian McLean
    • 1
  • Cassie Trewin
    • 1
  • Hamilton Lee
    • 1
  • James Victor
    • 2
  • Allan G. Hahn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyAustralian Institute of Sport, Sport Medicine and Sport Science CentreBelconnenAustralia
  2. 2.National Women’s Road Cycling ProgramAustralian Institute of SportBelconnenAustralia

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