Washington: A researcher has said that tour riders are top athletes in the world.
The 2,100-mile Tour de France, which began on July 2, will showcase the most superb cyclists in the world. As the Tour participants scale the Alps and Pyrenees and sprint through European streets, the aggressive struggle between teams and riders will build to a crescendo as the Tour reaches its final stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
But the true soul of the event, one expert said, is a contest of physical stamina and the ability of human beings to tolerate pain.
Phil Gallagher, director of the Applied Physiology Laboratory at the University of Kansas will observe “le Tour” as an authority on the exceptional human physiological processes that allow these select cyclists to ride for 21 days and push their bodies to extremes.
“These guys have been training their entire lives,” he said.
“As a result, elite cyclists have larger hearts than the typical person, so they’re able to push out more blood per beat. They’re able to extract more oxygen from their blood than an untrained individual would,” he added.
Gallagher has led research measuring the output of cyclists with a power meter. Gauging cyclists’ productivity in watts, Gallagher found that average riders generate less than half the power of the elite athletes who compete in the Tour de France.
“For example, I just went out and cycled around 45 miles this weekend, and averaged around 200 to 225 watts,” said Gallagher.
“These Tour riders average double that — and they’re riding double that distance each day. They’ll put out 450 watts average power. They’re basically the top athletes in the world,” he added.