Professional Road Cycling Coping with Fatigue and Monitoring Recovery: A Constant Battle

Goran Kentta, The Swedish School of Sport and Health Science, Sweden

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Program ID: SYM-28

Presentation: October 5, 2013 2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

Room: Oak Alley


Limited knowledge exists regarding psychological demands placed upon professional road cyclist. In contrast, sports medicine and other scientific disciplines have developed a considerable amount of knowledge related to understanding performance in cycling. The purpose is to review performance issues in road cycling based on research and consulting experience from a year with a professional team. Road cycling ranks among the most intense endurance exercises and take place in constantly changing places. This is evident by Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta Espania with racing distances ranging from 2250 to 5750 km over 3 weeks. Performance parameters are numerous and include the interrelationship of training, physiological, psychological, nutritional, biomechanical, and technological factors (i.e., equipment development). Moreover, racing tactics include two way radios, allowing communication with coaches and team mates making pacing strategies a complex fundamental skill of psychophysiological character. As a consultant some critical performance issues were identified from a psycho physiological perspective. Most importantly, coping with perceptions of fatigue and monitoring recovery on a daily basis is a great challenge. Emotional regulation and perception moment by moment becomes crucial since riders need to deal with uncertainty during an ever changing environment racing 5 hours a day. Notably, there are about 20.000 moments of 3 seconds in a 16 hour day on a grand tour race. Each of these moments is potentially rich in experience. Research show that individuals may control their emotions, using a wide range of strategies to influence which emotions they have and when they have them (Gross, 1998). Consequently, how each rider regulate their emotions, and their ability to psychologically detach (i.e., to "switch off") will either enhance or limit the capacity to recover on a daily basis. In addition, emotional regulation plays an important role in pacing strategy a critical factor determining success in racing.

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