Track cycling coaches, sports medicine specialists/physiologist usually use laboratory ergometer trials to assess cyclist performance in addition to moving bicycles in the field. During its introduction, laboratory testing was widely criticized by some coaches as being inaccurate in modeling cycling performance. A research published last 2007 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology by Gardner AS says otherwise.
The purpose of the study was to compare the maximal torque- and power-pedaling rate relationships during “all-out” sprints performed on laboratory ergometers and on moving bicycles with elite cyclists. Over a 3-day period, seven male (mean +/- SD; 180.0 +/- 3.0 cm; 86.2 +/- 6.1 kg) elite track cyclists completed two maximal 6 s cycle ergometer trials and two 65 m sprints on a moving bicycle; calibrated SRM powermeters were used and data were analyzed per revolution to establish torque- and power-pedaling rate relationships, maximum power, maximum torque and maximum pedaling rate. The inertial load of our laboratory test was (37.16 +/- 0.37 kg m(2)), approximately half as large as the field trials (69.7 +/- 3.8 kg m(2)).
The results of the study revealed the following:
There were no statistically significant differences between laboratory and field maximum power (1791 +/- 169; 1792 +/- 156 W; P = 0.863), optimal pedaling rate (128 +/- 7; 129 +/- 9 rpm; P = 0.863), torque-pedaling rate linear regression slope (-1.040 +/- 0.09; -1.035 +/- 0.10; P = 0.891) and maximum torque (266 +/- 20; 266 +/- 13 Nm; P = 0.840), respectively.
In conclusion, similar torque- and power-pedaling rate relationships were demonstrated in laboratory and field settings. The findings suggest that maximal laboratory data may provide an accurate means of modeling cycling performance.