Scientific Training Incentive


Small differences in performance can determine the difference between finishing in the main bunch and winning the race.

Three extreme examples are the Tour de France of 1968 (Jan Jansen), 1989 (Greg Lemond) and 2007 (Alberto Contador), where all Tours were won by marginal overall differences, 38 seconds (0.07%), 8 seconds (0.003%) and 23 seconds (0.08%) respectively. However, more generally, performance changes of 1.0% in well-trained and elite cyclists are regarded as meaningful.

Science and Training (Read PDF)

By using a well-controlled, but practical testing protocol, which includes a standardised warm-up at the same relative intensity (LSCT), it is possible to detect small meaningful changes in performance parameters(<1%) in well-trained cyclists.

Without having had the precision of measurement to confirm or refute the beliefs of the elite cyclists and coaches, the role of scientists has in the past always been partly compromised. However, this study shows that by using well-controlled testing protocols, small meaningful differences can be detected, and that science can contribute significantly in the process of further fine tuning training and optimising performance.

Small changes in performance, as low as 1%, are regarded as meaningful in well-trained cyclists. Being able to detect these changes is necessary to fine tune training and optimise performance. The typical error of measurement (TEM) in common performance cycle tests is about 2-3%.

Performance Testing (Read PDF)

The typical error of the measurement (TEM) of these tests, when used in a population of general cyclists, has been recorded as high as 2% to 3% using ergometers with a large measurement error.

This lack of precision makes it difficult to measure meaningful differences in performance in well-trained and elite cyclists.

With the recent development of more accurate ergometers, such as the Powertap, SRM and Computrainer, the error is reduced.