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Norwegian-British cooperation on mountain bikers’ performance

Mountain biker, Petter Fagerhaug

Norway's current best mountain biker, Petter Fagerhaug, is one of the cyclists who participated in the project. Photographed during field testing in Hafjell.

HINN researchers collaborate with the British and Norwegian Cycling Federations in mapping out which qualities are essential for a world-class performance in mountain bike racing. Two weeks ago, they met in Lillehammer.

Mountain biker Sam Gaze from New Zealand

The reigning world champion of U23 mountain bike racing, Sam Gaze from New Zealand, was tested in – among other places – a temporary laboratory in Hafjell.

- The purpose is to get as detailed a description as possible of the physical requirements of mountain biking, in order to optimize the training of Norwegian mountain bikers, says project initiator Professor Bent Rønnestad.

The long-term goal is to send two Norwegian contestants in mountain bike racing to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. Only once before has Norway had cyclists who qualified for the Olympics.

Participating in the project alongside researchers from Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences are the Norwegian Cycling Federation, the British Cycling Federation and Olympiatoppen Innlandet.

Chose to carry out the project at Lillehammer campus

British Cycling and the English Institute of Sports have found the project so intriguing that they decided to join it.

- Initially, the project was planned to be conducted in London, but the facilities, equipment and expertise at Lillehammer were deemed to be of such high quality, that the research team found it best to carry out the project here, explains Rønnestad.

The world's best mountain bikers participated

British Cycling thus offered its best mountain bikers, and the Norwegian Cycling Federation did the same.

Furthermore, the reigning world champion in mountain bike racing, Sam Gaze from New Zealand, and one of Switzerland's best mountain biker, Marcel Guerrini, participated.

Comprehensive test scheme

The first two days consisted of comprehensive testing in the Exercise Physiology Testing Laboratory at the Lillehammer campus of HINN.

Later on, body composition was measured, blood volume was tested, as well as mean corpuscular haemoglobin, before simulating mountain bike rides in the 2014 World Championship route in Hafjell.

Along the way, a variety of measurements were taken in order to find out what in particular separates the best from the second best mountain bikers.

In the near future, test results will be analysed before final conclusions are drawn.

- It will be quite exciting to find out, says Rønnestad.