Spending three minutes in a cubicle at minus 150 C is not exactly the kind of thing you dream of doing first thing in the morning, yet riders from the FDJ team will do it every day on the Tour de France.
The French cycling team have been experimenting with cryotherapy — exposure to extreme cold in a small chamber to help recovery — since last month.
“I tried out the method myself on the morning of the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, a preparation race before the Tour de France,” FDJ team doctor Gerard Guillaume told.
Just after breakfast, the athletes are made to strip to their underpants and given a pair of slippers before entering a cubicle filled with liquid nitrogen that lowers the ambient temperature to minus 150 C.
They need be there atleast for three minutes.
“The method was created in the Eastern countries some 30 years ago,” Guillaume added. “It is used in rheumatology and traumatology. Those who used it would treat people and athletes recovering from accidents or crashes.”