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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2001 June;41(2):139-46


language: English

Development of peak performance in track cycling

Schumacher Y. O., Mueller P., Keul J.

From the Medizinische Universitätsklinik Freiburg, Abtlg. R.P. Sportmedizin * German Cycling Federation BDR, Frankfurt, Germany


Background. Retrospective anal­y­sis of ­peak per­for­manc­es can be a use­full ­tool for the esti­ma­tion of ­future ­trends in ­high per­for­mance ­sports. The pur­pose of ­this ­study was to inves­ti­gate the evo­lu­tion of per­for­mance in ­track ­cycling ­from 1979 to 1999 and to ass­es age- and gen­der-relat­ed dif­fer­enc­es.
Methods. We stud­ied the ­results of the ­world ­track ­cycling cham­pion­ships for ­this peri­od in 200 m, 1000 m, indi­vid­u­al and ­team pur­suit rac­es for ­elite and jun­ior ath­letes. Overall ­trends, per­for­mance dif­fer­enc­es ­between ­rank 1 and 5, gen­der- and age-relat­ed dif­fer­enc­es ­were cal­cu­lat­ed.
Results. They ­show a sig­nif­i­cant (p<0.01) improve­ment in 1000 m, indi­vid­u­al and ­team pur­suit ­times for men and indi­vid­u­al pur­suit ­times for wom­en. No sig­nif­i­cant evo­lu­tion was ­seen in 200 m per­for­mance. In jun­ior rid­ers, ­only ­male ath­letes ­showed a con­ti­nous, sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment of aver­age ­race ­speed in indi­vid­u­al and ­team pur­suit ­over the ­study peri­od. Gender dif­fer­ence was 11±1.8% in all dis­ci­plines at all ­ages. Difference ­between ­elite and jun­ior rid­ers ­ranged ­between 5±2.1% for ­male and 6.1±2.2% for ­female ath­letes. The gap ­between ­rank 1 and 5 ­remained con­stant (2-3%) ­over the ­study peri­od.
Conclusions. A con­ti­nous improve­ment of per­for­mance ­over the ­last 20 ­years is vis­ible in ­track ­cycling endu­rance dis­ci­plines. New tech­ni­cal devel­op­ments ­show no sta­tis­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cant ­impact. The per­for­mance gap ­between ­male and ­female ath­letes is con­stant, inde­pen­dant of dis­ci­pline or ­race dis­tance and com­par­able to obser­va­tions in oth­er ­sports. Age-relat­ed dif­fer­enc­es in per­for­mance is ­most vis­ible in dis­ci­plines requier­ing ­short, ­high inten­sity pow­er out­put. Based on ­these ­data, esti­ma­tion of pos­sible win­ning ­times and adap­ta­tion of train­ing pro­grams for ­future ­track ­cycling com­pe­ti­tions ­might be facil­i­tat­ed.

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