Tour de France 2017: Cyclist Pawel Poljanski's vein-popping legs send social media into frenzy

If you needed further proof that Tour de France is one of the toughest sports in the world, look no further than the Instagram photo uploaded by cyclist Pawel Poljanski.

The Polish rider took to the photo-sharing application and showed the world how his legs appeared after having completed 16 stages of the race, where he cycled 2,829 km (1,758 miles) in 18 days.

After sixteen stages I think my legs look little tired 😬 #tourdefrance

A post shared by Paweł Poljański (@p.poljanski) on

Poljanski, who is a member of Bora-Hansgrohe, is currently 73rd in the general classification standings, where Chris Froome is currently the holder of the coveted yellow jersey. Poljanski's photo sent social media into tizzy, evoking shock, awe and disgust in equal measure. One comment read, "Please go see a doctor," while another person wondered if the legs "look like a human leaf"?

The image also evoked admiration.

Dr Bradley Launikonis, from the University of Queensland's School of Biomedical Science, explained to ABC  what happens to the legs during long-distance cycling.

"The amount of blood that we get normally going down to our legs is five litres per minute, for anyone at rest. For an untrained athlete, their maximum exercise will have 20 litres per minute flowing through the muscles. "One of these elite cyclists will have double that, about 40 litres per minute. They have massive volumes of blood moving through," Launikonis said. "The blood can pool there and that's what's happening in this extreme case. There is blood pooling in his veins which is why you're seeing them (so visibly)," Launikonis added.

In 2014, Team Sky also took to Twitter to reveal Froome's bulging veins.

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Updated Date: Jul 20, 2017 13:39:07 IST