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Originally posted by sniper474
I heard that Lance won't be entering the tour next year. Whats up with that?
Lance Armstrong is, quite simply, not a normal human being. Poised to win his sixth consecutive Tour de France -- an unprecedented feat -- it is clear his unique body and mind give him clear advantages over his competitors.
His heart, thighs, lungs and brain seem as if they were specially built for cycling, giving the champion incredible strength and endurance. And some athletes suggest his life-threatening battle with cancer, which forced him off the pedals in the 1990s, actually streamlined his body and made him an even stronger cyclist.
"Looking at Lance, if you did that prehistoric man chain, he would so far advanced it would be unreal," said Beth Wress-Estes, executive director of the American Cycling Association. "There is really something going on that makes him superhuman when he gets on a bike."
It starts with the legs. According to Men's Journal magazine, the 32-year-old Armstrong has exceptionally long thigh bones that allow him to deliver more power to his pedals. This, in turn, contributes to his extraordinary "pedal cadence" -- he rotates his pedals between 95 and 115 times a minute, even up hills.
In contrast, other professional cyclists crank their pedals about 75 to 95 times a minute, while the average city cyclist does not even come close, completing only 40 to 60 revolutions per minute.
Dr. Ed Coyle, director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas, said Armstrong can produce between 400 and 500 watts of leg power an hour.
"He's going fast," said Dr. Coyle, who has tested the cyclist's abilities extensively since 1989. "A normal male could produce about 200 watts during one hour.
"Even professional hockey players -- they're pretty tough and strong and big -- it's rare that they can generate more than 250 or 300 watts in one hour."
Armstrong's lungs are also crucial to his success. When he was just 16 and training as a triathlete, a Dallas clinic tested his "VO2 Max" (the maximum volume of oxygen a person's body consumes every minute during exercise). The results were off the charts -- his numbers were the highest the clinic had ever recorded, approximately double those of a regular man.
When he got sick in the 1990s, his testicular cancer spread to his brain and lungs, threatening his lung capacity. But the athlete agreed to an aggressive form of chemotherapy that does not appear to have affected his cardiovascular system.
Men's Journal says his ability to consume oxygen under exertion was recently measured at 85, more than double the 40 expected from healthy non-athletes.
While fighting cancer left Armstrong weak and frustrated, it also allowed him to rebuild his body into the perfect shape for a cyclist. He had developed a strong upper body through swimming, but lost nine kilograms of muscle during his illness.
When he gained the weight back, it was in the appropriate areas for cycling -- he developed powerful legs, but remained slim in his arms and chest, explained Steve Merker, executive director of the Ontario Cycling Association.
"The person who wins the Tour de France is classically the person who can win in the mountains," Merker said. "Lance, because he's so slim, he can just sail up those mountains like a mountain goat. Weight is not an issue."
Armstrong also has heart -- lots of it. According to Coyle, the champion's heart is about 50% larger than that of a normal person and is capable of beating 200 times per minute.
"He can pump a lot of blood, and therefore oxygen, to his leg muscles," Coyle said. Indeed, his heart could fill about 34 one-litre pop bottles with blood in a mere 60 seconds.
Because Armstrong's powerful muscles are getting so much oxygen, they do not produce as much lactic acid as other athletes' bodies do. Lactic acid makes muscles burn, contract and fail. Producing less lactic acid means Armstrong's body needs less recovery time overall.
Coyle says Armstrong produces only about a third of the lactic acid a normal person does. Not even he can fully explain why. Part of the phenomenon is probably genetic, and part is probably the way Armstrong's body has adapted to rigorous training.
"Lance has all these remarkable abilities. No one ability is superhuman," Dr. Coyle said.
"But he has very high levels of all of these. ... He's really been able to put all of the important factors together."
Originally posted by TRD
If he does race again in the tour will he be able to win it again? I can't remember how old he is but if he takes time out will he be able to come back?
Originally posted by TRD
I guess he has nothing left to prove if he wins this tour. He has to be one of the 'Sporting Greats' that we will see in our lifetime. I don't think anyone will get close to the record if he manages to do it.