Why get skinny when you could get fast? Why a rebalancing of perspectives is needed in cycling

Cycling’s obsession with weight is doing untold damage, argues Joe Laverick as he calls for a rebalancing of perspectives on fuelling, physique and performance

(Daniel Gould)

Whether it’s on Instagram, TikTok or TV, we’re constantly bombarded with images of perfect bodies. And it’s particularly relentless for us cyclists. The ideal body for us, we’re led to believe, is super-lean, if not super-skinny. This body image is reinforced by the pro peloton. Riders are pushing their body composition like never before, and it’s glorified on social media with images of vein-bulging, ripped legs beneath tiny torsos. Of course, this is what top-level cycling physiology looks like, but it has a dark side too.

There are an estimated 1.25 million people with eating disorders in the UK. That’s around one in 50. And the prevalence among endurance athletes is far worse, estimated at around 10 per cent of men and as many as one-quarter of women. From my own experience as a young rider, I’m willing to bet the figures are even higher among cyclists.

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