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Correlations between physiological variables and performance in high level cross country off road cyclists
  1. F M Impellizzeri1,
  2. S M Marcora2,
  3. E Rampinini1,
  4. P Mognoni3,
  5. A Sassi1
  1. 1Human Performance Laboratory, S S Mapei, Castellanza, Italy
  2. 2School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences, University of Wales–Bangor, Bangor, UK
  3. 3National Research Council, Institute of Molecular Bioimaging and Physiology, Segrate, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Franco M Impellizzeri
 Human Performance Laboratory, S S Mapei, Castellanza 21053, Italy;


Objectives: To examine the relations between maximal and submaximal indices of aerobic fitness and off road cycling performance in a homogeneous group of high level mountain bikers.

Methods: 12 internationally competitive mountain bikers completed the study. Maximum oxygen uptake (V˙o2max), peak power output (PPO), power output (PO), and oxygen uptake (V˙o2) at first (VT) and second (RCT) ventilatory thresholds were measured in the laboratory, and correlated with race time during a cross country circuit race.

Results: The only physiological indices of aerobic fitness correlated with off road cycling performance were PO and V˙o2 at RCT when normalised to body mass (r = −0.63 and r = −0.66, respectively; p<0.05). VT, V˙o2max, and PPO were not correlated to performance in this homogeneous group of high level mountain bikers.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that submaximal indices of aerobic fitness such as PO and V˙o2 at RCT are more important determinants of off road cycling performance than maximal indices such as PPO and V˙o2max. This study confirms the importance of body mass for mountain biking performance. As aerobic fitness explained only 40% of the variance, other physiological and technical factors should be investigated, as they may be important determinants of cross country performance among elite mountain bikers.

  • HRmax, maximum heart rate
  • PO, power output
  • PPO, peak power output
  • RCT, respiratory compensation threshold
  • o2, oxygen uptake
  • o2max, maximum oxygen uptake
  • VT, ventilatory threshold
  • mountain bike
  • ventilatory thresholds
  • maximum oxygen uptake
  • peak power output

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  • Competing interests: none declared