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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2021 Nov 25

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.21.13244-X


language: English

Transition from youth categories to élite cycling: relationships between early career performance and UCI World tour success

Leonardo CESANELLI 1, 2 , Berta YLAITĖ 3, Julio CALLEJA-GONZÁLEZ 4, Nuno LEITE 5, 6, Angelo IOVANE 2, Giuseppe MESSINA 2

1 Department of Health Promotion and Rehabilitation, Lithuanian Sports University, Kaunas, Lithuania; 2 Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Unit, Department of Psychological, Pedagogical and Educational Sciences, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy; 3 Institute of Sport Science and Innovations, Lithuanian Sports University, Kaunas, Lithuania; 4 Sport Section, Department of Physical Education and Sport, Faculty of Education, University of Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; 5 Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development, CIDESD CreativeLab Research Community, Vila Real, Portugal; 6 Department of Sports Sciences, Exercise and Health, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal


BACKGROUND: The present study aimed to describe the possible roles of cyclists’ early career performance, on the transition process to élite cycling categories.
METHODS: Data from national and international databases, and results achieved during the UCI World Championships, were retrospectively analysed considering the Italian national Youth-U16, Junior-U18, and U23 categories, and international Junior-U18 and UCI World-Tour categories.
RESULTS: The 15% of Youth-U16, the 38.8% of Junior-U18 and the 60% of U23 athletes who ranked top-10 between 2007 and 2013, scored points in UCI World Tour competitions between 2012 and 2018. The 1.6% of Youth-U16, the 8.3% of Junior-U18 and 25% of U23 athletes who ranked top-10 between 2007 and 2013, ranked among the Italian Top-10 in the UCI World-Tour individual classification between 2012 and 2018. Performance level in Youth-U16 category displayed a low correlation with UCI World Tour performance while the performance level in Junior-U18 category displayed a moderate correlation. The 34% of the Junior World Championship TOP-25 cyclists, participated in the élite competition. Trivial to small correlations emerged between Junior and élite World Championship performance levels.
CONCLUSIONS: Early performance seems not to represent a good predictor of élite performance, while the Junior-U18 and the U23 performance level, emerged as potential indicators of future success in the élite categories.

KEY WORDS: Talent identification; Performance analysis; Career trajectories; Cycling

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