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Chris Froome releases physiological data test results

4th December 2015

Chris Froome during the 2015 Tour de France, Utrecht

Chris Froome today released the results of physiological data tests carried out in August 2015 at GlaxoSmithKline Human Performance Lab in London. The information was published in Esquire magazine.

The Esquire article, written by Richard Moore, says that the testing was carried out by Lab staff and Jeroen Swart, a sports physician and exercise physiologist from the University of Cape Town. Froome arrived at the Lab with a wound on his knee, caused by falling when he attempted to ride one bike, while wheeling another, to the car wash near his apartment in Monaco.

The purpose of the testing was to lay to rest some of the doubts which people have expressed about Froome's performances. Froome said, 'I know what I've done to get here. I'm the only one who can really say 100 per cent that I'm clean, I haven't broken the rules. I haven't cheated. I haven't taken any secret substance that isn't known of yet...There isn't a secret.'

Froome had put on 3kg since the Tour de France, his weight going up from 67kg at the Tour to 70kg at the time of the test. First, scans were taken which determined that his body was 9.8% fat. (Athletes have been known to have as little as 4 or 5% body fat). Then, three tests were carried out.

There were two submaximal efforts, in cool then hot conditions, to measure Froome's sustainable power, and in between, a VO2 max test.

The VO2 max test involves resistance increasing every 30 seconds, and the rider riding to exhaustion. The score is taken on the average for a 30 second period. Froome's score was 84.6, but at his Tour de France weight, this would be 88.2. The highest score recorded by a cyclist was Greg LeMond, at 92.5, but Froome's was very high.

The submaximal tests give an idea of what the athlete would be able to sustain for 20-40 minutes. In watts, Froome's peak power was 525, and his sustained power was 419 watts. This corresponds to 5.98 watts per kilo, or 6.25 watts per kilo at his Tour weight.

Froome also did tests in 2007, at the UCI cycling centre in Aigle, Switzerland. He was considerably heavier then, at 75.6kg, and his body fat percentage was 16.9. His peak power was 540w, and his threshold 420w. His VO2 max was 80.2.

Esquire also published results of Froome's blood tests for the biological passport, from samples taken on 13th July and 20th August. In July, he had 15.3g of haemoglobin per litre, and 0.72 per cent of his red blood cells were immature. (EPO stimulates the bone marrow, flooding the blood with immature cells). In August, he had 15.3g of haemoglobin per litre, and 0.96 per cent immature red blood cells. In 2007, Froome's haemoglobin was 14.5g per litre.

Told about the lab tests, French critic Antoine Vayer was unsatisfied, and said nothing would convince him. 'He should have called me a year ago...If you are clean and you have doubters, you phone your doubters, don't you think? Because I am quite influential.' Froome might argue that it would be pointless doing tests with someone who will never be convinced, and appears to want to be the main centre of attention.

Writing in the Guardian, William Fotheringham says that the figures are reassuring, and that the change in performance from 2007 can be put down to weight loss. He acknowledges that the tests may not change many minds, but says it is a step in the right direction.

Chris Froome's Tour de France diary

Read Froome's innermost thoughts on the 2015 Tour de France in Christopher Froome's diary

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