Multi-stage racing is an extremely demanding aspect of professional road cycling, conducted over multiple days or even weeks in the case of the grand tours. Often, stages are run back to back without a rest for many days, therefore it is important for teams to monitor an individual cyclist’s workload and systemic (e.g. oxidative) stress. To do this coaches and trainers use heart rate monitors, race performance indicators and measurements of power output. However, power output data are rarely published and thus indirect estimations have been made. To date, few studies have extensively examined power output throughout multi-stage professional road cycling, with no studies examining power output throughout an entire grand tour.
Therefore, study 1 will involve the detailed analysis of power data collected from multi- stage races during the 2014 - 2015 professional cycling seasons. Data will be analysed to describe and compare between types of riders (i.e. sprinters, time trialists, climbers), stage type (i.e. flat, hilly, mountainous) and event type (i.e. time trial, criterium, road stage). These results will enable the development of a laboratory-based model of a professional road cycling event.
Study 2 will examine the influence of a 5-day multi-stage simulated race on markers of oxidative stress, mitochondrial biogenesis and glycogen availability will be examined. Muscle biopsy samples will be obtained from the vastus lateralis before and after exercise on days 1-5 for analysis of the cellular signalling activity and exercise-induced oxidative stress. An improved understanding of the power output and molecular processes during competitive races will be helpful in aiding elite cycling performance. Importantly, research efforts now target strategies to minimise systemic (esp. oxidative) stress, with anti- oxidants such as resveratrol.
However, research examining the effects of resveratrol on cellular adaptation is conflicting and limited in highly trained athletes. As such, study 3 will examine the influence of resveratrol on cell signalling and oxidative stress during a 5-day multi-stage race.
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