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Success Lies in the Quads

timv's picture

New York Times article: Thigh-Popping Success on a Bike Lies in the Quads...

To cycling teams and their support staffs, large thighs are less an Olympic oddity and more a necessity specific to their sport.


The image, a try-this-on-for-thighs comparison between one German cyclist nicknamed Gorilla (Andre Greipel) and another nicknamed Mr. Thigh (Robert Förstemann), underscored a more serious notion. Namely that cyclists, particularly track sprinters, rely on quadriceps, in all their massive, veined glory, to power them to success. Förstemann’s thighs, each comparable to a watermelon, measured 34 inches — wider than his waist.

“The picture is definitely real,” said Benjamin Sharp, the high-performance endurance director for USA Cycling. “Cyclists have strange shapes: big quads, small waists and big butts. It’s hard to find pants.”

He paused, then added, “It’s funny we’re talking about this.”

The article also links to a blog post by US track cyclist Beth Newell, describing her as "something of an international quad expert in cycling circles."

So I had to grab a tape measure and check one of mine, and it measured out at a little bit under 24 inches, just clear of the 60 cm circumference that--according to the Times--is the baseline for respectability among track sprinters. But I'm not entirely how that was meant to be read. That might be the baseline for girls.


eebee's picture

Joke Waiting to Happen...

Thanks, Timv, for setting up this potential for repartee. 

 "...big quads, small waists and big butts. It’s hard to find pants.”

Uh, welcome to the world of the average western female.  

Eye-opening statistics! I have always wondered whether cyclists & speedskaters really did have disproportionately large thighs, or if the skinsuits and lack of stomach fat just created the illusion. 

My right thigh is slightly skinnier than my left. Interesting!

roadskater's picture

Greipel Notably Massive; Wonder About Cavendish

During the Tour de France this year, it was great fun on what seemed the few days the breakaways were pulled back, to see former lead-out for Cavendish, Greipel, doing his best to pip him at the line. He pipped one guy (Sagan I think), but when it came to an assault by Cav I recall his amazement on at least one day that left Greipel shaking his head. I wonder how Cav stacks up on the measurements and also note that he lost weight for the hilly laps of the Olympic road race. I am wondering if Cav will retool himself for more GC (overall time winner) success, stay like he is now, or go back to being heavier with more power. I didn't make any measurements, but I bet that thigh vs. waist ration is a good predictor. Also of course overall weight and I've heard upper leg bone length (maybe in Speed on Skates, by Publow. Maybe I'll have the bravery to measure later. Thanks for the info and for contributing here so much over time.

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