Highs and lows of Tour tests

Thursday, July 1, 2004 11.00pm
How do you measure up to the athletes riding the Tour. Check your vital statistics against theirs...
Every year, the day before the start, the Tour de France's medical staff, headed by Doctor Grard Porte for the past 33 years, examine the participants to ensure that they are in good physical shape to ride what this year is 3,390 kilometres over three weeks. The International Cycling Union's (UCI) blood testing on Thursday deemed Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Gorka Gonzalez unfit to ride [see separate story], but Porte's medicals are more akin to those carried out by your local GP: heart rate, weight and height, among other things, are all examined. And the results of 'best' and 'worst' are always eagerly anticipated. Winner of the lowest heart rate in 2004? Phonak's Santiago Perez of Spain, with 31 beats per minute. Yellow jersey for the biggest lung capacity? Another Spaniard, this time of the French Ag2r squad, Mikel Astarloa with 7.98 litres. The race's lightest rider is the Russian Alexandre Botcharov at a frankly puny 54.5 kilograms, while the heaviest rider is Sweden's Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi) who will fly down the mountains thanks to his gravity-embracing 98 kilograms. But the big Swede is prevented taking first prize in the tallest rider competition. Instead, the title goes to a Frenchman: Guillaume Auger of RAGT at 1.96 metres. French fans must be going crazy: there's a second win for them, too, thanks to Ag2r's Samuel Dumoulin who obviously never ate his greens, measuring just 1.58 metres. Among the Tour's 188 starters, average height is 1.79 metres, average weight is 69.9kg, average lung capacity is 5.74 litres, while the Tour peloton's average heart rate is 51 beats per minute.

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