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Case Report

Load, Intensity, and Performance Characteristics in Multiple Grand Tours

van Erp, Teun1; Hoozemans, Marco1; Foster, Carl2; de Koning, Jos J.1,2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 1, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002210
Clinical Investigation/Case Study: PDF Only

Introduction The aim of this study was to present the load, intensity and performance characteristics of a general classification (GC) contender during multiple grand tours (GTs). This study also investigated which factors influence climbing performance.

Methods Power output (PO) data were collected from a GC contender from the Vuelta a España 2015, the Giro d’Italia 2017, the Giro d’Italia 2018 and the Tour de France 2018. Load (e.g. Training Stress Score and kJ spent) and intensity in 5 PO zones was quantified. One-way analysis of variance was used to identify differences between the GTs. Further, performance during the four GTs was quantified based on maximum mean power output (W·kg-1) over different durations and by the relative PO (W·kg-1) on the key mountains in the GTs. Stepwise multiple regression analysis was used to identify which factors influence relative PO on the key mountains.

Results No significant differences were found between load and intensity characteristics between the four GTs with the exception that during the Giro d’Italia 2018 a significantly lower absolute time was spent in PO zone 5 (P=0.005) compared to the other three GTs. The average relative PO on the key mountains (n=33) was 5.9±0.6 W·kg-1 and was negatively influenced by the duration of the climb and the total elevation gain before the key mountain, while the gradient of the mountain had a positive effect on relative PO.

Conclusions The physiological load imposed on a GC contender did not differ between multiple GTs. Climbing performance was influenced by short-term fatigue induced by previous altitude meters in the stage and the duration and gradient of the mountain.

1Department of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, The Netherlands

2 University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, La Crosse, WI

Corresponding Author: Teun van Erp, Department of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, The Netherlands. E-mail:

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. No funding is used for this research. The results of the study are presented clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation. The results of the present study do not constitute endorsement by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Accepted for Publication: 1 October 2019.

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine