Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Previous experience influences pacing during 20 km time trial cycling
  1. D Micklewright1,
  2. E Papadopoulou1,
  3. J Swart2,
  4. T Noakes2
  1. 1Centre for Sports and Exercise Science, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
  2. 2UCT/MRC Research Unit for ESSM, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr D Micklewright, Centre for Sports and Exercise Science, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK; dpmick{at}


Objective To investigate how experience and feedback influence pacing and performance during time trial cycling.

Design Twenty-nine cyclists performed three 20 km cycling time trials using a Computrainer. The first two time trials (TT1 and TT2) were performed (1) without any performance feedback (n = 10), (2) with accurate performance feedback (n = 10) or (3) with false feedback showing the speed to be 5% greater than the actual speed (n = 9). All participants received full feedback during the third time trial (TT3), and their performance and pacing data were compared against TT2.

Results Completion time, average power and average speed did not change among the false feedback group, but their pacing strategy did change as indicated by a lower average cadence, 89.2 (SD 5.2) vs 96.4 (6.8) rpm, p<0.05, and higher power during the first 5 km (SMD = 39, 36, 36, 27 and 27 W for 1–5 km respectively). Pacing changed among the blind feedback group indicated by a faster completion time, 35.9 (3.1) vs 36.8 (4.4) min, p<0.05, and power increases during the final 5 km (SMD = 14, 13, 18, 23 and 53 W for 16–20 km respectively). No performance or pacing changes were observed among the accurate feedback group.

Conclusions Pacing is influenced by an interaction between feedback and previous experience. Conscious cognitive processes that lead to ratings of perceived exertion and pacing appear to be influenced by previous experience.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by University of Cape Town, South Africa and University of Essex, UK.