Introduction The aim of this study was to present the load, intensity, and performance characteristics of a general classification (GC) contender during multiple grand tours (GTs). This study also investigated which factors influence climbing performance. Methods Power output (PO) data were collected from a GC contender from the Vuelta a España 2015, the Giro d'Italia 2017, the Giro d'Italia 2018, and the Tour de France 2018. Load (e.g., Training Stress Score and kJ spent) and intensity in five PO zones were quantified. One-way ANOVA was used to identify differences between the GTs. Furthermore, performance during the four GTs was quantified based on maximal mean PO (W·kg-1) over different durations and by the relative PO (W·kg-1) on the key mountains in the GTs. Stepwise multiple regression analysis was used to identify which factors influence relative PO on the key mountains. Results No significant differences were found between load and intensity characteristics between the four GTs, with the exception that during the Giro d'Italia 2018, a significantly lower absolute time was spent in PO zone 5 (P = 0.005) compared with the other three GTs. The average relative PO on the key mountains (n = 33) was 5.9 ± 0.6 W·kg-1 and was negatively influenced by the duration of the climb and the total elevation gain before the key mountain, whereas the gradient of the mountain had a positive effect on relative PO. Conclusions The physiological load imposed on a GC contender did not differ between multiple GTs. Climbing performance was influenced by short-term fatigue induced by previous altitude meters in the stage and the duration and gradient of the mountain.
- General classification contender
- power output
- team leader