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Clin Chem Lab Med. 2012 Jan 13;50(5):949-56. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2011-0857.

Haematological and iron metabolism parameters in professional cyclists during the Giro d'Italia 3-weeks stage race.

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  • 1Liquigas Cannondale Medical Board, Sesto al Reghena, Italy.



Haematological assessment is crucial for evaluating athletes healthy status. Professional athletes experience physiological modifications during competitions and over a season: the risk of sports anaemia is high. Few descriptions of haematological parameters behaviour during a 3-weeks cycling stage race have been published.


We studied nine professional cyclists engaged in the 2011 Giro d'Italia stage race. Pre-analytical and analytical phases tightly followed academic and anti-doping authorities' recommendations. Haematological and iron metabolism parameters were measured days -1 (pre-race), 12 and 22 during the race.


Haemoglobin, red blood cells and haematocrit decreased during the race with a stabilisation in the second half, but final values were lower than baseline. Reticulocytes did not modify, whilst the immature reticulocyte fraction increased. No differences were found in red blood cells volume and corpuscular haemoglobin content, neither in iron metabolism markers. The acute phase proteins, haptoglobin and C-reactive protein, both increased over the race, while haemoglobin and haptoglobin were inversely related.


These data are important for improving the knowledge of physiological modifications in haematological and iron metabolism parameters of professional athletes during highly demanding competitions. This is the first report, in the ambit of a stage race, in which the pre-analytical phase standardisation has been applied.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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