Positive Pacing Strategies Are Utilized by Elite Male and Female Para-cyclists in Short Time Trials in the Velodrome

Rachel L. Wright

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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In para-cycling, competitors are classed based on functional impairment resulting in cyclists with neurological and locomotor impairments competing against each other. In Paralympic competition, classes are combined by using a factoring adjustment to race times to produce the overall medallists. Pacing in short-duration track cycling events is proposed to utilize an “all-out” strategy in able-bodied competition. However, pacing in para-cycling may vary depending on the level of impairment. Analysis of the pacing strategies employed by different classification groups may offer scope for optimal performance; therefore, this study investigated the pacing strategy adopted during the 1-km time trial (TT) and 500-m TT in elite C1 to C3 para-cyclists and able-bodied cyclists. Total times and intermediate split times (125-m intervals; measured to 0.001 s) were obtained from the C1-C3 men's 1-km TT (n = 28) and women's 500-m TT (n = 9) from the 2012 Paralympic Games and the men's 1-km TT (n = 19) and women's 500-m TT (n = 12) from the 2013 UCI World Track Championships from publically available video. Split times were expressed as actual time, factored time (for the para-cyclists) and as a percentage of total time. A two-way analysis of variance was used to investigate differences in split times between the different classifications and the able-bodied cyclists in the men's 1-km TT and between the para-cyclists and able-bodied cyclists in the women's 500-m TT. The importance of position at the first split was investigated with Kendall's Tau-b correlation. The first 125-m split time was the slowest for all cyclists, representing the acceleration phase from a standing start. C2 cyclists were slowest at this 125-m split, probably due to a combination of remaining seated in this acceleration phase and a high proportion of cyclists in this group being trans-femoral amputees. Not all cyclists used aero-bars, preferring to use drop, flat or bullhorn handlebars. Split times increased in the later stages of the race, demonstrating a positive pacing strategy. In the shorter women's 500-m TT, rank at the first split was more strongly correlated with final position than in the longer men's 1-km TT. In conclusion, a positive pacing strategy was adopted by the different para-cycling classes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number425
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2016


  • para-cycling
  • pacing
  • time trial
  • performance
  • Paralympic
  • velodrome
  • cycling


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