Menaspā P, Sassi A, Impellizzeri FM.
PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to examine the discriminant ability of aerobic fitness measures among junior cyclists of different competitive levels also examining whether these variables were able to predict the cyclists who reached the professional level.
METHODS: 309 young cyclists [Mean(SD):17.5(0.5) years, 178(6) cm, 66(7) kg] performed an incremental maximal test to determine peak oxygen uptake (VO2PEAK) and respiratory compensation point (RCP). To examine the discriminant and predictive ability of these parameters, the cyclists were classified according to their competitive level and specialty: 1) National team (NAT) and non-National team (non-NAT); 2) non-professionals (NP), professional flat-specialists (PFL) and professional climbers (PCL); 3) non-professionals (NP), Professional Continental (PC) and ProTour (PT). A logistic regression was used to test the accuracy of models generated using as predictors the laboratory measures of aerobic fitness and anthropometric data.
RESULTS: The mean absolute and relative VO2PEAK were 4.7(0.6) L.min and 71(7) mL.kg.min, respectively. NAT displayed higher VO2 values than non-NAT. PFL showed higher absolute VO2 values than NP. PCL showed higher relative VO2 values than NP. PT showed higher aerobic fitness measures than NP. Using the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve, body mass, absolute VO2PEAK and VO2 at RCP were found to discriminate NAT from non-NAT. Although some of these variables influenced the odds of becoming professionals (odds ratios from 1.10 to 2.86), no models were able to correctly identify the cyclists who became professionals.
CONCLUSION: Traditional physiological measures of aerobic fitness are useful to identify junior cyclists who can excel in their category. However, these variables cannot be used for talent identification, if `talent` is interpreted as a young cyclist who will succeed in becoming a professional.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Nov 27. [Epub ahead of print]