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Pacing strategy and tactical positioning during cyclo-cross races

Bossi, Arthur, O'Grady, Ciaran, Ebreo, Richard, Passfield, Louis, Hopker, James G. (2018) Pacing strategy and tactical positioning during cyclo-cross races. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 13 (4). pp. 452-458. ISSN 1555-0265. E-ISSN 1555-0273. (doi:10.1123/ijspp.2017-0183) (KAR id:63003)

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Purpose: To describe pacing strategy and competitive behaviour in elite-level cyclo-cross races. Methods: Data from 329 men and women competing in 5 editions (2012–2016) of UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships were compiled. Individual mean racing speeds from each lap were normalised to the mean speeds of the whole race. Lap-by-lap and final rankings were also explored. Pacing strategy was compared between sexes and between top- and bottom-placed cyclists. Results: A significant main effect of laps was found in 8 out of 10 races (4 positive, 3 variable, 2 even and 1 negative pacing strategies) and an interaction effect of ranking-based groups was found in 2 (2016, male and female races). Kendall's tau-b correlations revealed an increasingly positive relationship between intermediate and final rankings throughout the races. The number of overtakes during races decreased from start to finish, as suggested by significant Friedman tests. In the first lap, normalised cycling speeds were different in 3 out of 5 editions—men were faster in 1 and slower in 2 editions. In the last lap, however, normalised cycling speeds of men were lower than those of women in 4 editions. Conclusions: Elite cyclo-cross competitors adopt slightly distinct pacing strategies in each race, but positive pacing strategies are highly probable in most events, with more changes in rankings during the first laps. Sporadically, top- and bottom-placed groups might adopt different pacing strategies during either male or female races. Men and women seem to distribute their efforts differently, but this effect is of small magnitude.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1123/ijspp.2017-0183
Uncontrolled keywords: cyclocross; off-road cycling; pacing profile; tactics; sex differences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > School of Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: Louis Passfield
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2017 08:39 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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