Racing and Training Physiology of an Elite Ultra-Endurance Cyclist - Case Study of 2 Record-Setting Performances


Purpose: To present a case report of an elite ultra-endurance cyclist, who was the winner and course record holder of 2 distinct races within a 4-month span: a 24-hour solo cycling race and a 2-man team multiday race (Race Across America). Methods: The athlete’s raw data (cycling power, heart rate [HR], speed, and distance) were obtained and analyzed for 2 ultra-endurance races and 11 weeks of training in between. Results: For the 24-hour race, the athlete completed 861.6 km (average speed 35.9 km·h−1, average power 210 W [2.8 W·kg−1], average HR 121 beats per minute) with a 37% decrease in power and a 22% decrease in HR throughout the race. During the 11 weeks between the 24-hour race and Race Across America, training intensity distribution (Zone 1/2/3) based on HR was 51%/39%/10%. For the Race Across America, total team time to complete the 4939-km race was 6 days, 10 hours, 39 minutes, at an average speed of 31.9 km·h−1. Of this, the athlete featured in this case study rode 75.2 hours, completing 2532 km (average speed 33.7 km·h−1, average power 203 W [2.7 W·kg−1]), with a 12% decrease in power throughout the race. Power during daytime segments was greater than nighttime (212 [25] vs 189 [18] W, P < .001, η2p=.189). Conclusions: This case report highlights the performance requirements of elite ultra-endurance cycling. Although average power was similar when riding for 24 hours continuously and 75 hours intermittently over 6.5 days, there were large differences in pacing strategies and within-day power-output changes.

Int J Sport Physiol Perf