Comparison of Male and Female Road Cyclists Under Identical Stage Race Conditions.
PURPOSE:: To compare the demands of a six-day stage race using field measures of power output and heart rate in male (n=8) and female (n=10) competitive cyclists. METHODS:: Heart rate and power output were monitored in males and females competing in separate races on identical courses including a prologue (4 km), 4 circuit/road races (mean ± SD: 118 ± 23 km), and a criterium (47 km). All subjects participated in laboratory based exercise testing within two weeks of the race. RESULTS:: Compared to females, males took 10%, 22%, and 10% less time to complete the prologue, circuit/road races, and criterium respectively. For males, power output in the prologue, circuit/road races, and criterium averaged 405, 247, and 278 watts respectively. For females, power output averaged 295, 160, and 205 watts respectively. During the prologue, the percent time spent below, at, and above the lactate threshold was 29%, 9%, and 62% respectively for males and 24%, 7%, and 69% respectively for females. For the circuit/road races, these values were 57%, 10%, and 33% respectively for males and 62%, 10%, and 28% respectively for females. During the criterium, these values were 51%, 6%, and 43% respectively for males, and 50%, 8%, and 42% respectively for females. CONCLUSIONS:: Though men had faster finishing times and higher absolute power outputs, no significant difference was found between men and women in their relative power response. These findings suggest that pacing strategy is based on relative exercise responses and not on absolute exercise responses.