Europe

Tour de France legs: Pawel Poljanski sends internet into meltdown

A picture of Pawel Poljanski's legs, captioned: "After sixteen stages I think my legs look little tired." Image copyright Instagram/Pawel Poljanski
Image caption Pawel Poljanski's legs may not encourage you to take up cycling

They say exercise is good for you. A quick glimpse at this picture, however, and you'll be questioning that wisdom.

In fairness, Pawel Poljanski had cycled 2,829km (1,758 miles) in the previous 18 days, and at a speed which the vast majority of us would struggle to maintain for a fraction of that time.

The Tour de France cyclist shared the snap on his Instagram page after completing the 16th stage of the race.

"After sixteen stages I think my legs look little tired," he noted dryly.

His fans were more concerned.

"Please go see a doctor," one said.

Others, it seem, felt it had gone too far already.

"You dead?" they queried.

But what exactly has happened to his legs to make him, as one commenter noted, "look like a human leaf"?

Image copyright Twitter/Antoine Duchesne
Image caption Antoine Duchesne shows off his legs earlier this year. He didn't make the cut for this year's Tour

Rob Hayles, former GB world champion and BBC cycling summariser, acknowledged the look was "quite extreme", but added: "When I was riding there were a handful of riders who would be like that even in the winter, when not in training!"

Hayles explained that, for cyclists, power to weight ratio is crucial for a Grand Tour.

"Although the peak power of a bigger sprinter is very high, generally their weight is also quite high, and this is why they can't climb with the best," he said. "So there is a balance to be struck between power output and weight.

"As you can see in this photo, the least amount of body fat you can have - while not necessarily healthy - if timed correctly (i.e. during a Grand Tour) gives a rider the optimum chance of performance. Some riders find it easier and more natural to get their weight down, while others struggle."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Team Sky pose for a photo on the podium - showing not everyone has leaf legs

More on this story