The Influence of Competitor Presence on Pacing Regulation and Performance during Cycling Time Trials


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Previous deception methods exploring the influence of competitors to hide manipulations of feedback have found improvements in performance. They have however, investigated such effects without investigating the mechanisms arising from competitor manipulations. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the mechanistic influence of deception and of competitor presence upon pace regulation, physiological responses, and psychological emotions, during cycling time trials (TT). Study one confirmed that the influence of competitor presence facilitated performance, enabling athletes to improve TT performance greater than their previous maximal. It also highlighted mechanistic understanding of such performance improvements, illustrating that the presence of an opponent encouraged an increased motivation and a reduced internal attentional focus. Study two demonstrated that the presence of competitors surreptitiously manipulated to a greater intensity also induced performance improvements, irrespective of the magnitude of deceptive manipulation, and the number of competitors. The magnitude of manipulation and the quantity of competitors did however produce alternative pacing and perceptual responses (ratings of perceived exertion, affect and self-efficacy). The final study provided insight into the effect of performing a starting strategy faster or slower than normal in response to a competitor's pace. It outlined that although no performance detriment or improvement occurred when selecting an alternative starting speed, there was a residual impact on the remaining duration pace, and perceptual responses. These studies provide novel and important information concerning the influences of competitor presence and deception manipulations on pacing and perceptual feeling states. The findings provide practical implications for future training practices, and offer mechanistic understanding of the provision of opponents, aiding the development of optimal pace regulation during cycling competition.
Date of Award17 Jun 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorLARS MCNAUGHTON (Director of Studies), DAVID MARCHANT (Supervisor), Andy Sparks (Supervisor) & ADRIAN MIDGLEY (Supervisor)


  • competitor presence
  • cycling time trials
  • attentional focus
  • RPE
  • self-efficacy
  • starting strategy

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