Sassi A1, Rampinini E1, Martin DT2, Morelli A1

1, Human Performance Laboratory, Mapei Sport Research Center, Varese, Italy;2, Australian Institute of Sport, Bruce, ACT Canberra, Australia

The purpose of this study was to describe the relationship between road gradient (RG) and freely chosen cadence (FCC) in a group of professional cyclists during their normal training. In addition, a calculation of crank inertial load (CIL) was estimated in order to establish the relationship between FCC and CIL. Ten professional cyclists were monitored during training using commercially available power meters (Shoberer Rad Messtechnik (SRM), professional version). For each cyclist, recorded training sessions were reviewed to identify the hardest 6-8 training sessions (approximately 18 h of training). RG was estimated based on the relationship between power output, total mass and speed. The analysis was performed using 2113+/-317 samples of 30 s average data, collected on terrain ranging from -4%RG to 12%RG. The individual relationship between FCC and RG could be described by a linear regression model. There was a moderate correlation between FCC and CIL (group’s r=0.42), and a multiple regression including the measured power output (WPO) increased the variance explained (R2=0.24). The correlation was very large between CIL and v (r=0.91), and was not strengthened by adding WPO as an independent variable (r=0.91). In conclusion, this investigation documents that in professional cyclists engaged in training, there is a linear decrease in FCC as RG increases (-4%RG and 12%RG). This decrease in FCC appears to be due to the reduction in v as slope increases. It is surmised that CIL plays a key role in the modulation of FCC.

J Biomech. 2009 Jan 19;42(2):171-7.