Influence of competition on performance and pacing during cycling exercise

Jo Corbett, Martin Barwood, A. Ouzounoglou, Richard Thelwell, Matt Dicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To examine the influence of head to head (HH) competition on performance, pacing strategy, and bioenergetics, during a 2,000-m cycling task. Methods: Fourteen participants completed three, 2,000-m familiarization time trials (TTs) on a Velotron cycle ergometer, before completing an additional TT and a 2,000-m simulated HH competition in a counterbalanced order. During the trials a computer generated image of the participant(s) completing the 2,000-m course was projected onto a screen positioned in front of the participants. Although participants believed they were competing against another individual during the HH competition, they were in fact competing against their best familiarization performance (FAM), replayed on the screen by the Velotron software. Results: Performance was significantly faster in HH than in FAM or TT (184.6 +/- 6.2 s, 187.7 +/-8.2 s, 188.3 +/- 9.5 s, respectively). Pacing profile in HH initially matched the FAM performance, but was better maintained from 1,000 m until the end of exercise. The higher power output during the latter part of the test was achieved by a greater anaerobic energy contribution, while the aerobic energy yield remained unchanged. Conclusion: HH competition encourages participants to increase their performance. This occurs primarily via increased an increased anaerobic energy yield, which appears to be centrally mediated, and is consistent with the concept of a physiologic reserve.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports & Exercise
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2011


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