Here's the science behind why Tour de France rider's legs are so veiny

Why is it that the fittest riders often have such exposed piping?

Pawel Poljanski and his legs at the 2017 Tour de France

(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada/Pawel Poljanski/Instagram)

We've all seen pictures of the legs of rider's when they're at peak fitness. Veins standing up like protuberant tree roots surging up against the skin, criss-crossing his quads and calves - it certainly makes for an arresting image. But what's the physiological explanation?

When Bora–Hansgrohe rider Paweł Poljański shared pictures of his jaw-dropping legs across social media after stage 16 of the 2017 Tour de France, pundits emerged from all quarters to chip in their views on the how exceptional (or not) Poljański’s legs were.

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David Bradford
Features editor

David Bradford is features editor of Cycling Weekly (print edition). He has been writing and editing professionally for more than 15 years, and has published work in national newspapers and magazines including the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the Irish Times, and Runner’s World. Alongside his love of cycling, David is a long-distance runner with a marathon PB of two hours 28 minutes. Having been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2006, he also writes about sight loss and hosts the podcast Ways of Not Seeing.