My father-in-law George Kuykendall pointed out an interesting article in The New York Times called The Bicycling Paradox: Fit Doesn’t Have to Mean Thin. It talks about the types of cyclists that go on European cycling trips that follow the route of The Tour de France and how older and/or heavier riders often turn out to be more successful than most people might expect. The article says:
... cycling is a lot more forgiving of body type and age than running. The best cyclists going up hills are those with the best weight-to-strength ratio, which generally means being thin and strong. But heavier cyclists go faster downhill. And being light does not help much on flat roads.
The article goes on to say that Dr. James Hagberg, a kinesiology professor at the University of Maryland, thinks that cycling is not as physically demanding as running. Anyone who uses a heart-rate monitor in their training can easily see this. There is a significant difference in average heart rate and estimated calories burned between running and cycling for 30 minutes.
This is a popular article in my office, where the all of the cyclists can more easily identify with Thor Hushovd than they can Michael Rasmussen, at least in terms of BMI .