Inside Top Cyclist's Success

Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of Austin, Texas, takes the start of the 3rd stage, a 46.5- kilometer (29 mile) individual time trial, in the Dauphine Libere cycling race around Roanne, central France, Wednesday, June 8, 2005. Armstrong finished third. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Lance Armstrong is shooting for a record seventh-straight victory in the Tour de France this July. Back home in Texas, researcher Edward Coyle, PhD, has a bird's eye view on Armstrong's stunning success.

Coyle, a kinesiology and health education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is not just a fan. He studied Armstrong for years, starting before the cyclist's first Tour de France victory.

Coyle shares his findings in the Journal of Applied Physiology. It's an inside look at Armstrong's remarkable rise in muscular efficiency despite cancer. It's also a case study in natural talent, hard work, and perseverance.

"Clearly, this champion embodies a phenomenon of both genetic natural selection and the extreme to which the human can adapt to endurance training performed for a decade or more in a person who is truly inspired," writes Coyle.

The Early Days

Coyle studied Armstrong from 1992 to 1999 — the year of Armstrong's first Tour de France win. In 1993, the 22-year-old Armstrong had become the youngest winner of the World Championships in bicycle road racing. He had also been a competitive swimmer, runner, and triathlete in his teens, says Coyle.