Lance Armstrong is obviously a fantastic bike rider. He was the World Road Champion even before he had cancer. But would he have been a Tour winner back then?... probably not. His body shape, weight etc... was far heavier and was concidered a 1 day rider and time trial specialist only!
Since getting the 'all clear' with cancer however he made tremendous changes to his training and the way he used his body during training. To such an extent that he has now won 5 Tour de France titles and gunning for that elusive number 6!
Lance has trained his body by utilizing fat so well that even at close to his maximum he still sources some energy from fat. I believe he still is fat burning at 98% of his max heart rate!
To put this into perspective in the 1000+ tests Trainsmart has done almost everybody burns no fat at around 70-88% of their max heart rate.
If you can source your energy from fat you will be able to go longer using less energy from carbs/sugars (quick release). Use these fuel sources and your a ticking time bomb waiting to explode! It doesnt matter how fit you are... you run out of carbs/sugars during exercise you will fall short of your goals. The only way to combat this is to eat constantly throughout this higher effort, but still risk running out of steam from sheer physical effort and the lactate builds too high that you have to slow down! Or train your body at fat metabolising by doing steady state riding for longer periods of time.
The point at which your body sources the highest %tage from fat is your 'Fat Max heart rate'. Normally around 50-75% of max heart rate.
The point at which your body stops using fat is your RQ1 (respirotory quotient). This happens when you go totally anaerobic and your body struggles to breathe enough oxygen in to fuel the working muscles. This area is commonly known as your lactate threshold or anaerobic threshold.
The only way to truly know where your optimum fat max heart rates are is to get tested. You cannot guess as it is so personal.
I've seen and tested people of similar ability but their fat burning heart rates are about 20 beats different from each other! So this would be the reason why 1 rider finds it more difficult over longer rides to sustain the pace and drops in and drafts when he gets tired. The other rider just sits at the front and seems happy there for the entire ride! And these 2 riders have similar max heart rates, similar times in races, similar VO2 max's!
There are certainly other areas where Lance is superior to others... such as VO2 max. His is around 88 VO2 max. The pro cycling standard is 75 VO2 max or higher. The World Record is 94 by a Scandinavian cross country skier!
You can move these areas to higher heart rates by the correct training... like Lance Armstrong has done over the last 7 years or so.
Other riders in the pro peloton are probably doing the same training as Lance but Lance does it better! He tests himself regularly to re-evaluate his heart rate zones and always follows a strict training programme and diet regime.
Have you wondered why Lance seems to be so slow during the first few months of the racing season whearas other riders are flying!? It's because Lance is focussing soley on July and the Tour and training his body to become even more efficient. This takes a long time... not just a few weeks of aerobic training!
We are talking a few months of steady state riding, weight training, proper focussed training, drills, cadence building, power training, speed drills, long hours in the saddle, long hours in all weather etc...
If you need more info please visit the Trainsmart website, but dont look at my photo as it's really bad!