Objetive: To analyze and compare the workload exerted by professional cyclists in 5- (5SR), 8- (8SR), and 21-day stage races (21SR). Method: Thirty professional cyclists who competed in ten 5SR, five 8SR, and five 21SR served as subjects for this study. Heart rate (HR) was measured during the races and categorized according to three intensity zones: Z1 (below the ventilatory threshold (VT)), Z2 (between VT and the respiratory compensation threshold (RCT)), and Z3 (above RCT). The training impulse (TRIMP) was calculated by multiplying the sum of the time spent in each zone by 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Monotony (average TRIMP×SD-1) and strain (total TRIMP×monotony) were also calculated for each race type. Results: Average time spent in Z3 during each stage was significantly (p<0.05) higher for 5SR (~31 min) and 8SR (~28 min) vs 21SR (~14 min). Also, daily TRIMP in 5SR (~400) and in 8SR (~395) were higher than in 21SR (~370). Monotony was similar across races (~3). However, strain was ~3 times higher for 21SR than for 5SR and 8SR Conclusions: The cyclists’ effort by stage was less for 21SR than for 5SR and 8SR. Competition strain and monotony accumulated thorough longer races influence the choice of strategies adopted by cyclists. It is likely that the intensity of each stage is modulated by total race duration race, with longer races averaging the lowest daily workload.
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