Tour de France: why don't the riders have any hair on their legs?

Published by Cécile de Sortiraparis · Published on June 17th, 2023 at 10:21 p.m.
You may have noticed: top cyclists have completely hairless legs. Aesthetic effect or real sporting advantage? We explain why Tour de France riders are hairless.

In France, we have many traditions. For example, in July, everyone watches the Tour de France, whether you're a cycling fan or not! It's an opportunity to see some great sport, but also to (re)discover our country and its special features. And speaking of peculiarities, have you noticed that the Tour riders have hairless legs and arms? Not a hair in sight below the neck. Why do cyclists shave?

There are several possible reasons. Aesthetics and habit may play a role in this systematic depilation. But if cyclists shave their legs and arms, it's primarily for medical reasons.

"There are regular falls and injuries in cycling races. Having a hairless leg means the wound can be disinfected and healed more quickly, " explains Yann Duploye, head of the sports department, to La Voix du Nord. More often than not, when a runner falls during a competition, the wound will look more like a burn than a cut. Having hair stuck in a burned area can also cause additional pain.

What's more, these top athletes often receive massages after each stage, to help relax the muscles and speed up recovery. These vigorous massages are much more pleasant when the hairs on the legs aren't being pulled in all directions.

But that's not all! If cyclists get rid of their hair, it's also because it slows them down! According to a very serious study conducted by Specialized in 2014, the absence of hair on the limbs saves a few precious hundredths of a second, by promoting the rider's aerodynamics. Athletes could gain around 19 seconds every 40 kilometers, just by shaving their arms!

Cyclists aren't the only ones to go beardless: swimmers also wax their arms, to gain speed in the water. What if a razor was all you needed to become the next Tadej Pogacar ?

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