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  1. #1
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    The best body type for cycling?

    I have been reading a lot of articls on various cycling sites and in several cycling publications about losing weight. It seems like a very central theme in the cycling world, in fact. however, I have been looking around, and some of the best cyclists in the world are big guys. Lance Armstrong, Mario Cipolini(sp?), Jan Ulrich and Miguel Indurain are/were all big guys in cycling world and over 160 lbs.

    I am not disputing that 10 lbs off your gut would make hill easier, but why is it that these bigger cyclists are doing so well? they have to propel almost 50 lbs more weight up a mountain then small guys like Iban Mayo.

    Why does a heavy rider have an advantage in a time trial? it seems like it wouldn't help a huge amount, you still have to propel that extra weight from point a to point b.

    Is being bigger really an advantage to the all-around cyclist? whats the deal, folks?

  2. #2
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Yes. It's pretty simple, really. A big, powerful guy in an aero tuck doesn't present that much difference in wind and friction resistance from a tiny flyweight. But, s/he can, potentially, generate considerably more power. The additional weight is a "liability" when climbing, but pretty much everywhere else, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

    To the all-around cyclist, and riders participating in one day events, being big is a good thing. If you're climbing L'Alpe D'huez, it's a problem.

  3. #3
    Direct Hit Not Required BlastRadius's Avatar
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    Seems to me that in a time trial, 180 vs. 140 means up to 28% more muscle mass whereas frontal profile (wind resistance) only increases by a small percentage.

  4. #4
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    A big man in peak shape beats a little man in peak shape every time,every sport.Lance isn't big either if you meet him and I don't believe he weighs 170 pounds.Maybe ten years ago but not since the cancer.
    Why does Lance beat Mayo or Pantani?Because he's WAY stronger than those guys.Plus he wants it more than them.

  5. #5
    Lance Hater Laggard's Avatar
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    A big body is a liability for climbers. Indurain was a big guy and wasn't a natural climber but he was so damn strong that he could power his way up the big climbs.

    In general bigger guys have more muscle mass which is why they time trial so well. Natural climbers tend to be smaller guys but it's rare to find a climber who can time trial with the Indurains and Ulrichs of the world.

    When you look at how strong Indurain was, frontal resistance really isn't an issue.

    To win the TDF you HAVE to be able to time trial well and you have to have enough brute strength to make it over the mountains with the natural climbers.

  6. #6
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    Can anyone say "steroids?"

    Just a thought

  7. #7
    Ride to remember originalbart's Avatar
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    The best body type for cycling?

    One without my belly, longer legs, and bigger lungs. Oh yeah and more grit. Other than that I'm a shoe-in for the Tour.
    '02 Giant OCR-3, Ultegra double
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  8. #8
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Have you guys met Lance Armstrong? He is not a big guy. He looks like a avg. size skinny guy.

    Look at the winners of the last 5 TDF's, Vueltas and Giro. Look at most of the winners of all the Classics.

    Most are endurance athletes meaning they are avg to short in stature and lightweight.

    Even Big Mig and Ullrich are skinny compared to others people of the same height.

  9. #9
    opinionated SOB cycletourist's Avatar
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    Speaking of body types... for my height I have a longer than usual torso and shorter than usual femurs. According to the diabetic association this body type is more likely than the average Joe to develop type 2 diabetes. Makes sense to me- my father and grandfather were both diabetic and they both had this same body type. Obviously, bicycling plays a big role in helping me beat the odds.

    RE: hill climbing-

    I have been pedalling like mad the last ten years trying to avoid the family curse. So far I have been sucessful. I have also lost (and gained back) a lot of weight and gained a LOT of strength. I am a big guy, 6'3" and 200+ pounds. So called conventional cycling wisdom says that I should be a terrible climber but I can tear up hills as if they didn't exist and leave everyone else wondering how such a big guy can do that.

    Pure muscle power is the difference and the reason why big guys like Lance and Miguel can stay with the pack on a long climb.

  10. #10
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    to cycletourist:

    Nice links on your signature, thx.

  11. #11
    rider of small bicycles geneman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limba
    Why does Lance beat Mayo or Pantani?Because he's WAY stronger than those guys.Plus he wants it more than them.
    Not necessarily true. Raw strength is predominantly a major asset in sprints. Elite cyclists separate themselves by their ability to endure sustained, high-intensity (but not 100%) efforts. Obviously muscle mass contributes to success in this regard, but the bigger factor is blood-O2 capacity. The guy with the innate ability to deliver more oxygen to his muscles should win every time.

    Interestingly, the Lillehammer winter Olymics illustrated this effect. I'm struggling to remember all of the details now, but the story goes this way ... the cross country ski races that year were dominated by a man named Bjorn Dählie. After the games, scientist determined that Dählie benefited from a genetically modified Hemoglobin gene that was capable of carrying more exygen. This benefit was especially evident at high-altitude and high-effort activities. Unfortunately, I tried to google this story but came up empty. I remember reading it not long after the games as a small blurb in either the journal Science or Nature.

    -mark

  12. #12
    Elitist Jackass Smoothie104's Avatar
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    It's all power to weight ratio, and the ability to recover.

    Sustain 7 watts per kilogram of body weight for over half an hour, thats what you need to do to win a mountain stage. Make these efforts several days in a row, and you've got a Tour victory.

    Back to Indurain and his ability to get his 175 lbs over the cols. It wasn't brute strength that got Indurain up those long climbs. It was his 8 liter lung capacity, and a heart that at at 190 bpm was pumping over 50 litres of blood a minute. His VO2 max was measured at 94. He was the ultimate aerobic machine. When his competitors were leg-weary and had driven their muscles to their metabolic limit, he was still effectively using oxygen to provide seemingly endless speed and power. This motor, along with his keen fashion sense, made him king of the time trials, where his weight was not as much of a factor.

    Add in long enough legs to use 180-190mm cranks and everyone else was racing for 2nd place.




    But numbers on paper are one thing, and they leave out one all important factor.

    When you watch the Tour de France, you will hear Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin talk about Ullrich, and how he is perhaps the most "talented cyclist in the world"

    They don't mean he can sing and dance, or make balloon animals with his feet. They mean that on paper, his numbers are the best, he has the best genetics, the best god given motor. But the numbers don't account for the mental part, the focus to keep training hard and the ability to suffer.


    Big Leggy Mig, and his little pot-belly, which was said to be his internal organs which were displaced by his oversized lungs.
    Last edited by Smoothie104; 01-24-04 at 01:32 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Armstrong:

    Resting HR 32-34
    VO2 83.8 ml/kg
    Max VO2 power 600 watts
    Lactate HR 178
    Max HR 201
    TT RPM 95-100
    TT HR 190
    Climbing RPM 80-85

    Lance had huge numbers before cancer. After losing weight during chemo and then being able to retain his power, that's when his "power to weight" ratio got into Grand Tour championship level.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
    Bret Stephens, WSJ

  14. #14
    Lance Hater Laggard's Avatar
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    VO2 max for various riders:

    Lance Armstrong 83.8 ml/kg-min
    Indurain - 88
    Eddy Mercky - 77
    Benard Hinault - 87
    GREG LEMOND - 92.5!!!!

    By the way - has anyone here had their VO2 Max tested?

    I did a few years back but will not disclose it until someone else does first.

  15. #15
    Senior Member parakeethouse's Avatar
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    A little big guy is probably the best.

  16. #16
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    Best body type for cycling? How about this?

  17. #17
    Lance Hater Laggard's Avatar
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    Burn that seat.

  18. #18
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laggard
    Burn that seat.

  19. #19
    Elitist Jackass Smoothie104's Avatar
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    You need to lose as much weight as you can without it affecting your power output. Tour riders are getting thinner and thinner.

    Some one get this guy a sandwich.

  20. #20
    Senior Member djbowen1's Avatar
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    I get creeped out every time i se that picture, that is one creepy picture.

  21. #21
    Bananaed Brillig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smoothie104
    It's all power to weight ratio, and the ability to recover.
    Bingo.

    The neat thing is how the ratio is effected by gradient. Two riders with equivalent power to weight ratios will ride the same on a flat but if one gets the ratio with less power and less weight, he will be better on the climb. Which is why Heras (who is tiny) may give Armstrong a run for his money in the uphill TT in this year's TdF but wouldn't stand a chance in a flat TT.

    But that's only part of the story. As you probalby know from your own climbs it's not only about your power output, it's about when you use it, how long you can sustain it and how quickly you can recover. That's why a guy like Lance or Jan can beat some of these tiny climbers up a hill. It's their aerobic system's ability to keep the energy flowing.

  22. #22
    Elitist Jackass Smoothie104's Avatar
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    Agreed, and while everyone brings up the fact that Lance was asking Roberto to slow down last year. Roberto was not worried about his time or placing at the finish. His job was to set a tempo on the climb for as long as he could, then creep to the finish in order to save strength for the next day. The tempo was a bit high for Lance at the time, but Lances job is not to blow himself up in the first few kilometers.

  23. #23
    Bananaed Brillig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smoothie104
    ... everyone brings up the fact that Lance was asking Roberto to slow down last year.
    I thought that was Beltran.

  24. #24
    05 Roubaix Comp Double
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smoothie104
    You need to lose as much weight as you can without it affecting your power output. Tour riders are getting thinner and thinner.

    Some one get this guy a sandwich.
    Dude in the red hat sure likes something.

  25. #25
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    Sweet! my 6'1" 178 lb body isn't going to hold me back then from my tour de france dreams! See you guys in the tour!

    BTW, what is the deal with that hump on lance's back...I thought the aero position was supposed to be flat-backed.

    RacerX, you said that lance is not that big, but when you see him in the time-trials, he looks really thick, look at this pic...http://www.lancearmstrong.com/lance/...256D56004AEBED

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