Tour de France versus Vuelta a Espana: which is harder?

A Lucia, J Hoyos, A Santalla, Conrad P Earnest, J L Chicharro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (SciVal)


PURPOSE: To compare the total exercise loads (intensity x volume) of the Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France during the last year.

METHODS: Seven professional road cyclists (28 +/- 1 yr; [OV0312]O(2max): 74.6 +/- 2.2 who participated in both Tour and Vuelta during the years 1997, 1999, 2000, or 2001 were collected as subjects. They wore a heart rate (HR) telemeter during each stage of the two races, and exercise intensity was divided into three phases according to the reference HR values obtained during a previous ramp cycle-ergometer test: phase I (<ventilatory threshold (VT)), phase II (between VT and the respiratory compensation point (RCP)) and phase III (>RCP). Total volume and intensity were integrated as a single variable. The score for volume x intensity in each phase was computed by multiplying the accumulated duration in this phase by a multiplier for this particular phase. The total score for Tour and Vuelta was obtained by summating the results of the three phases.

RESULTS: The total loads (volume x intensity) did not significantly differ between the two races (P > 0.05), despite a significantly longer total exercise time of the Tour (P < 0.05) (5552 +/- 176 vs 5086 +/- 290 min).

CONCLUSION: The physiological loads imposed on cyclists' bodies do not differ between the Tour and Vuelta, despite the longer duration of daily stages in the former race.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-878
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


Dive into the research topics of 'Tour de France versus Vuelta a Espana: which is harder?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this