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It's official: caffeine makes you ride harder and faster

Top up your coffee cup before heading out on this morning's long ride, researchers say...

A cafe stop has long been a staple on a big ride for many cyclists - but now it’s official. Caffeine may improve cycling speed, researchers have found.

A study from the University of Alicante caffeine tested cyclists using a combination of caffeine and carbohydrate gel, and found that they rode significantly better than others who had smaller doses or none at all. The larger hit of caffeine gave riders more power.

The scientists experimented on 70 amateur cyclists, basing their caffeine load on their individual body weight, and dosing it out 70 minutes before an hour-long ride.

Another study, published a year ago by Birmingham University gave 0.5mg of caffeine per kilo of body weight to cyclists - and found it was enough to give riders an advantage in a 45 minute time trial.

Riders at home can replicated the result by allowing themselves 0.5 to 0.6mg of caffeine per kilo of body weight, either in the form of coffee, energy drinks or caffeinated energy gels.

Back in 2010 we reported how former WADA chairman John Fahey urged the re-banning of caffeine during competitions.

Fahey told the Melbourne newspaper The Age that while use of such substances may be within the letter of the law, in his opinion it went against the spirit of sport.

"In my view it brings the game somewhat into disrepute because there are substances there that have an unknown quality to them and unknown consequences," Fahey explained.

He added that he would be asking WADA’s medical committee to re-examine whether caffeine should appear on the list of banned substances after the ban was removed in 2004. Prior to that, the legal limit for caffeine was 12 microgram/ml in urine, said to be equivalent to around eight cups of espresso.

"Having been taken back off the banned list, it can be put back on," he said, adding: "It will be looked at again in light of what's occurring at the moment."

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