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Influence of environmental factors on Olympic cross-country mountain bike performance

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Résumé

Olympic distance cross-country cycling (XCO) is a discipline subject to wide performance variability due to uncontrollable environmental factors such as altitude, ambient temperature and/or humidity. This study therefore aimed to investigate the impact of environmental factors on XCO performance in under-23 and elite female and male categories.
Individual data were collected from Continental Cup, World Cup, World Championship, and Olympics Games for U23 and elite female and male categories from 2009 to 2018. Factors included were race time (range: 55–157 min), average speed (range: 7.6–32.2 km/h), distance (range: 15.2–48.4 km), altitude (range: 50–2680 m), ambient temperature (range 7–41°C), relative and absolute humidity (range: 8–97% and 2.4–25.3 g/m3, respectively), and categories.
The analysis represents 10,966 individual data which indicate a continuous progression of the performance for all categories. Principal component analysis reveals that the slowest XCO performance was resulting from high ambient temperature and absolute humidity. Regressions revealed that only altitude (P < 0.0001) have a direct linear negative effect on XCO average speed. A significant negative interaction effect of altitude with absolute humidity (P < 0.0001) on XCO average speed was also found. In addition, the higher the absolute humidity, the higher is the impact of ambient temperature (P < 0.0001) on XCO average speed.
While XCO performance progressed over time regardless of the categories, results also indicate that altitude, ambient temperature, and absolute humidity negatively impact XCO performance.

Dates et versions

hal-03065248 , version 1 (14-12-2020)

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Citer

Franck Brocherie, Simon Fischer, Quentin de Larochelambert, Henri Meric, Florence Riera. Influence of environmental factors on Olympic cross-country mountain bike performance. Temperature, 2020, 7 (2), pp.149-156. ⟨10.1080/23328940.2020.1761577⟩. ⟨hal-03065248⟩
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