Energetics of best performances in track cycling

Carlo Capelli, Federico Schena, Paola Zamparo, Antonio Dal Monte, Marcello Faina, Pietro E D Prampero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


V̇O(2max) and best performance times (BPTs) obtained during maximal voluntary trials over 1, 2, 5, and 10 km from a stationary start were assessed in 10 elite cyclists. Steady-state V̇O2 and peak blood lactate concentration ([La](h)) were also determined in the same subjects pedaling on a track at constant submaximal speeds. The energy cost of cycling (C(c).J · m-1) was calculated as the ratio of V̇O2, corrected for glycolytic energy production and expressed in W. to v (m · s-1). Individual relationships between C(c) and v were described by: C(c) = C(crr) + k' v2 where C(crr) is the energy spent against friction and k' v2 is that spent against drag. Overall energy cost of cycling (C(ctot)) was obtained, adding to C(c) the energy spent to accelerate the total moving mass from a stationary start. Individual theoretical BPTs were then calculated and compared with the actual ones as follows. The maximal metabolic power sustained at a constant level by a given subject (Ė(max), W) is a known function of the exhaustion time (t(c)). It depends on his V̇O(2max) and maximal anaerobic capacity; it was obtained from individual V̇O(2max) and [La](b) values. The metabolic power (Ė(c), W) necessary to cover any given distance (d) is a known function of the performance time over d (t(d)); it is given by Ė(c) = C(ctot v) = C(ctot) d t(d)-1. For all subjects and distances, the t values solving the equalities Ė(max) F(t(c)) = Ė(c) F(t(d)) were calculated and assumed to yield theoretical BPTs. Calculations showed a fairly good agreement between actual and calculated BPTs with an average ratio of 1.035 ± 0.058.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-624
Number of pages11
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Anaerobic capacity
  • Maximal power
  • Modeling in physiology
  • Muscular exercise
  • V̇O(2max)
  • World records

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Energetics of best performances in track cycling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this