What was Eddy Merckx's VO2max?

Aug 23, 2022
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There are different values scattered all over different threads ranging from 77 to 'the highest ever measured' but there is no consensus as to how it was estimated
 
Could very well be 77. It could also very well be that was the highest ever measured 50 years ago. The story goes that the discussion about Merckx having the best VO2max is what caused the Ironman to be organized.

But that was a time some riders were still smoking two packs a day, when riders didn't go to a GT with only 5% fat on their bones.
 
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Lemond on VO2 Max;
Greg LeMond: In the 80s when I was racing we did VO2 Max testing, but it was to see the physical fitness. My first VO2 Max test was up in Squaw Valley on a treadmill and I had a 79 VO2 Max non-specific sport. But once I actually really started doing VO2 Max testing on a consistent basis in '89... now you know it depends upon the level of fitness and training...I was on average about 6.2 to 6.4 liters of Oxygen, which translated to my racing weight would be 92, 93, 94 VO2 Max. I think only cross-country skier Bjørn Dæhlie [Generally considered the greatest Nordic skier of all time, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist 15 km, 50 km, 4 x 10 km relay cross country skiing], had those same numbers. So I think I had one of, if not the highest.

Now I don't know Merckx's. I don't think Merckx ever did a VO2 Max. So, I'm certain he was up there. I think Bernard Hinault's VO2 Max was 88. I think I was of the top....

CB: 1 or 2...?
GL: 1 or 2, yes. At the top.

If Greg didn't know Merckx's numbers, it probably means his numbers have never made it out there, or been properly measured.
 
Jan 17, 2022
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There are different values scattered all over different threads ranging from 77 to 'the highest ever measured' but there is no consensus as to how it was estimated
It would not be particularly surprising if he was never tested imo. But it was probably high, although not as high as modern elite athletes. Much like in many sports that have history's going back a long way, historical greats can have a lot of wild/dubious claims around them that make it pretty hard to determine fact from fiction. (See some of the comical estimates of Merckx hour record power, that considering power loss on the track and the altitude would put Merckx's sea level FTP in 1972 in the mid-high 500w's.
 
Reactions: jmdirt
I thought it was 525 :D!

As LeMond noted, weight is a factor. Remember when Froome turned in an 84, and the joke that ensued, when he didn't know his weight :rolleyes:? Performances are a combination of VO2Max, weight, but also lactate threshold, cycling efficiency, and other factors... 4370 kilometers at 36.5 km/h, 8 stages wins including a 54 km ITT at 46.5 km/h in the last stage, on those roads with those bikes.

VO2Max is a piece but not the only piece of the equation. With today's "scientific" methods, for example, if you get Merckx from 72-74 kg down to 68 kg with no adverse effect o_O, the number will be very high, I guess.

We'll never know. As an Eddy Merckx fan since '75, I have never seen a number. I don't know and frankly I don't care. It doesn't matter. Was Eddy Merckx's VO2Max 85, 90, or 95?

Yeah, 525 is about right :cool:...
 
I thought it was 525 :D!

As LeMond noted, weight is a factor. Remember when Froome turned in an 84, and the joke that ensued, when he didn't know his weight :rolleyes:? Performances are a combination of VO2Max, weight, but also lactate threshold, cycling efficiency, and other factors... 4370 kilometers at 36.5 km/h, 8 stages wins including a 54 km ITT at 46.5 km/h in the last stage, on those roads with those bikes.

VO2Max is a piece but not the only piece of the equation. With today's "scientific" methods, for example, if you get Merckx from 72-74 kg down to 68 kg with no adverse effect o_O, the number will be very high, I guess.

We'll never know. As an Eddy Merckx fan since '75, I have never seen a number. I don't know and frankly I don't care. It doesn't matter. Was Eddy Merckx's VO2Max 85, 90, or 95?

Yeah, 525 is about right :cool:...
So you've gone from Merckx to the anti-Merckx (Pinot)?
 
Impossible to guess. Only that is was obviously very high. I did read somewhere that Eddy's maximum heart rate was unusually low (170?), not sure if we can read too much into that.

By comparison Indurain had a max HR of 195, a resting pulse of below 30 and a relative V02 max of 88 (milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram). Lemond was reportedly 95. When Contador won at Verbier in 2009 someone (Lemond?) suggested by his speed and power that would require a VO2 max of close to 100?
 
Impossible to guess. Only that is was obviously very high. I did read somewhere that Eddy's maximum heart rate was unusually low (170?), not sure if we can read too much into that.

By comparison Indurain had a max HR of 195, a resting pulse of below 30 and a relative V02 max of 88 (milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram). Lemond was reportedly 95. When Contador won at Verbier in 2009 someone (Lemond?) suggested by his speed and power that would require a VO2 max of close to 100?
The stage was slow pedaled with a tailwind, if memory served. It leaked out a few years back that Contador had an 89 V02 max.
 

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