The French team AG2R-La Mondiale will use cryotherapy to help enhance recovery during the Tour de France, the squad announced today.
Riders will endure three minutes in a special whole body suit, pioneered by Tec4H, which is filled with liquid nitrogen at -150 degrees Celsius.
Cold is said to aid recovery and reduce inflammation, and riders have traditionally taken ice baths to help recuperate from intense efforts. However, the short blast of extreme cold in the new suits, which cover the entire body from neck to ankle, has other benefits, explained the team's medical director Eric Bouvat.
"Cryotherapy is a technique which has been used in Eastern countries for several decades to fight against inflammation in people suffering from rheumatism," Bouvat said. "They saw the effectiveness and developed it for use in athletes with inflamed muscle and tendons after exercise.
"This technique has been developed for use by our team this year in France by the company Tec4H. We use it on our athletes for two reasons: first to facilitate recovery and fight against pain after exercise. Secondly, when used over the long term, cold can help boost the immune system.
"We use cryotherapy on the team after the stages, but we also use it in the morning because the cold stimulates the endocrine system and the production of hormones."