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Hormone levels of world class cyclists during the Tour of Spain stage race
  1. A Lucía1,
  2. B Díaz2,
  3. J Hoyos3,
  4. C Fernández2,
  5. G Villa4,
  6. F Bandrés5,
  7. J L Chicharro6
  1. 1Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas y Fisiología, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Spain
  2. 2Departamento de Biología Funcional, Area de Fisiología, Facultad de Medicina, Oviedo, Spain
  3. 3Agrupación Deportiva Banesto, Spain
  4. 4INEF de Castilla y León, Universidad de León, Spain
  5. 5Departamento de Medicina Legal, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  6. 6Departamento de Enfermería, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  1. Dr Lucía, Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas y Fisiología, Universidad Europea de Madrid, E-28670 Madrid, Spain alejandro.lucia{at}


Objectives—To evaluate the hormonal response to strenuous endurance exercise performed by elite athletes.

Methods—Nine professional cyclists (mean (SD) age 28 (1) years; mean (SD) Vo2max 75.3 (2.3) ml/kg/min) who participated in a three week tour race (Vuelta a España 1999) were selected as subjects. Morning urinary levels of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) and morning serum levels of testosterone, follicle stimulating (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH), and cortisol were measured in each subject at t0 (before the competition), t1 (end of first week), t2 (end of second week), and t3 (end of third week). Urine samples of aMT6s were also evaluated in the evening at t0, t1, t2, and t3.

Results—Mean urinary aMT6s levels had increased significantly (p<0.01) during the day after each stage (1091 (33) v 683 (68) ng/ml at t1; 955 (19) v 473 (53) ng/ml at t2; 647 (61) v 337 (47) ng/ml at t3). Both morning and evening aMT6s levels decreased significantly during the study. A similar pattern was observed for morning serum levels of cortisol and testosterone.

Conclusions—The results suggest that the basal activity of the pineal gland, adrenal glands, and testis may be decreased after consecutive days of intense, long term exercise.

  • melatonin
  • gonadotrophins
  • testosterone
  • cortisol
  • endurance exercise
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