Cyclists’ hearts: can you be so fit that you die?

Why have dozens of endurance athletes died in their sleep over the last few decades? How can a cyclist’s heart rate be slower than an elephant’s?

Elite cyclists have such extreme physiology and such abnormal cardiovascular systems that their hearts beat less than 30 times a minute. Combined with performance-enhancing drugs that makes their blood thick and gloopy with red blood cells, this spells a recipe for disaster.

The legendary ‘Il Pirata’, Marco Pantani, had to wake up in the night and cycle on a stationary bike to make sure his heart rate didn’t drop too low and cause a heart attack. During the day, he lived to ride…but at night, he rode to stay alive.

This is my 2nd video so all comments (good or bad) are welcome! If you do like it, please subscribe and like yadda yadda. Let me know any ideas you would like for future videos.

Further reading:
The Death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell

Ross Tucker’s blog
(current website

Tango de Manzana by Kevin MacLeod. Creative Commons licence, downloaded from

Cycling footage (CC) – John Simpson
Mo Farah footage –
Guardian –
Le Tour de France –
VO2 max –
Elite athletes –

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