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Research reveals new secret weapon for Le Tour
Date:7/1/2011

Winning margins in the Tour de France can be tight last year just 39 seconds separated the top two riders after more than 90 hours in the saddle. When every second counts, riders do everything possible to gain a competitive advantage from using aerodynamic carbon fibre bikes to the very latest in sports nutrition.

Now there could be a new, completely legal and rather surprising weapon in the armoury for riders aiming to shave vital seconds off their time beetroot juice.

Research by the University of Exeter, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, has shown drinking the juice enables competitive-level cyclists to cut down the time it takes to ride a given distance. This is the first study which has shown that beetroot juice can be effective in a simulated competition environment.

For the study, nine club-level competitive male cyclists were asked to compete in time trials over 4km (2.5 mile) and 16.1km (10 mile). All the riders were asked to do each time trial twice. Each time they drank half a litre of beetroot juice beforehand. On one occasion they had normal beetroot juice, on the other occasion unbeknown to the triallists the beetroot juice had a key ingredient, nitrate, removed.

The researchers monitored athletes' VO2 levels (showing the amount of oxygen consumed) during exercise to ensure that the cyclists worked at maximum effort on each occasion.

Results showed that when the cyclists drank ordinary beetroot juice they had a higher power output (measured in watts) for the same level of effort suggesting their muscles and cardio-vascular system were being more efficient.

On average, riders were 11 seconds (2.8%) quicker over the 4km distance and 45 seconds (2.7%) faster over the 16.1km distance.

Professor Andrew Jones, from the University of Exeter, lead author on the research, said: "This is the first time we've studied the effects of beetroot juice, a
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Contact: Sarah Hoyle
s.hoyle@exeter.ac.uk
44-139-272-2062
University of Exeter
Source:Eurekalert

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