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Evaluation of nitric oxide production during inflammatory distress of immune cells of upper respiratory airways in elite cyclists – Giro d’ Italia 2017


Sunday, 21st May – BAHRAIN MERIDA Team is very proud of the research project “RESPIRO in GIRO”, with Luca Pollastri and Emilio Magni, team’s medical doctors, as members of the research team. The main scientific goal of the study is to test and evaluate the efficacy of non- invasive methods, such as the measurement of exhaled nitric oxide and expired breath temperature, with the aim to early detect pathological processes and prevent the occurrence of respiratory infections during a long competition.

The cyclists involved in an intense and stressful competitive stage race, such as the 100th Giro d’Italia, must be in a perfect health status, and every organ and system (respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular) should be efficient at the best level in order to tolerate the very high competitive and racing loads required by competition. However, there is the scientific evidence derived from available sport medicine literature that a hard and prolonged competitive effort could cause to the athlete an intense psychological and physical overload, able to modify his immunity response. For these reasons, the potential negative outcome for the athlete is that during the competition inflammatory diseases could arise and affect in a negative way the overall health condition of the athlete and therefore his performance.In this context we already know that the respiratory system of an élite athlete is particularly exposed to respiratory infections: furthermore, almost half of all pathological manifestations occurring in pro-cyclists could be detected in a very early and pre-clinical phase, using non-invasive diagnostic methods. For these reasons we sought to assess if there were exams potentially useful for monitoring the health status of the athlete involved in long competitive race and detecting the clinical condition of his respiratory system. To answer such important pathophysiological questions actually not yet investigated, scientific research is needed. BAHRAIN MERIDA’s Medical and Technical Staff is very proud of the research project “RESPIRO in GIRO”: the scientific assessment, actually carried out during this edition of Giro d’Italia, offers the opportunity to combine the team’s expertise and attention to elite cyclists with the excellence in the human physiology and pathology research of the University of Milan “Bicocca”, with the approval of Giro d’Italia medical commission. The main figures involved are doctors Luca Pollastri and Emilio Magni – Team BAHRAIN MERIDA, Francesca Lanfranconi – University of Milan “Bicocca” and prof. Giovanni Tredici – Head of Giro d’ Italia Medical Commission.

Dr Claudio Macaluso, researcher on the field at Giro d’Italia with BAHRAIN MERIDA team told us: “Following elite cyclists in such a great professional and international team is very exciting and interesting: of course you should pay attention to athletes’ organizational needs, respect their rest times and the fatigue after the stage. However, once you have understood them, they offer the opportunity to monitor their status every day and discuss about their condition in a very open way.

That’s why to evaluate cyclists during a long competition such as Giro d’Italia allow us to obtain useful clinical data for our longitudinal research project and give the chance to monitor every day their health status from different points of view.

So far we have collected many information’s and results obtained are very interesting: at the end of competition we will be able to analyse everything extensively and make available in order to increase health and performance of agonistic athletes.”

Data obtained from the scientific investigation will be collected and analysed with the aim to be published as a manuscript in a medical scientific journal and made available to all the people involved in the medical care of elite cyclists, in order to increase health and performance of agonistic athletes. Our athletes will be involved in a project with the target to assess the prevalence and incidence of possible changes affective the respiratory system due to a particular stimulus, such as excessive training load and competitive effort, lasting for 3 weeks of competition. Each cyclist will be evaluated every day during the competition and results obtained will be compared with those derived from a pre-agonistic evaluation conducted at the beginning of the season.  The importance of the project comes from the fact that the investigation will be performed for the first time in a selected group of UCI World Tour Elite Cyclists participating to the 100th edition of Giro d’Italia. The added value of the research project is that every inquiry will be done with attention and respect of the specific needs required by an UCI Pro Tour Team during a crucial event of the agonistic season.

Bahrain – Merida 2017 – 16/12/2016 –  – photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2016