Sunday, 8 July 2007

Tour de France riders: not just your average Joes

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The Tour de France kicked off this weekend. It may take more than talent and intense training to be a world-class cyclist; one physiologist believes that body structure of elite cyclists is, at least in part, created by nature.

Endurance athletes, like cyclists, require amazing lung capacity. Spain's Miguel Indurain -- a five time Tour winner -- had a lung capacity of eight litres compared to the average six. During exercise, Indurain could consume nearly double the oxygen an untrained adult could consume. Other Tour athletes have had similarly high lung capacity. Elite cyclists also tend to have strong hearts. Lance Armstrong, for example, is estimated to have a heart that's 30% larger than average.

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