"Cycling is one of the few sports where having an atypical brain is really useful" - Harry Sweeny hopes to break the autism taboo in the peloton

There are professional cyclists with diabetes (mainly thanks to American Novo Nordisk) but riders with autism is still something the audience may not be ready yet. EF Education-EasyPost's Harry Sweeny would like to change their view and break the taboo in the peloton.

"The only reason I became a professional cyclist is because of the structure of my brain," Sweeny tells American website Escape Collective. "I work obsessively on the things I'm bad at, and also work obsessively on the things I'm good at to make sure I don't lose that level. It's almost like an addiction without the drug."

However Sweeny can see positive aspects of his difference as professional cyclist. "Being neurodivergent is a huge advantage for me as a rider, because cycling is one of the few sports where having an atypical brain is really useful."

Sweeny is not the only rider who suffers from an autism spectrum disorder. Great cyclists such as Greg LeMond, his boss Jonathan Vaughters and even the German Tour winner Jan Ullrich also announced after their cycling career that they had a certain form of autism. However, Sweeny is the first rider to share his diagnosis with the world during his career. According to the 25-year-old Australian, many of his colleagues also have ASD, but they just don't know it yet.

"There is more and more research showing that people at the absolute top in their profession are much more likely to have an atypical brain than the rest. The more I learn about it, the more I also see that there are a lot of pros who have autism but just don't know it. I think sports brings that out in people. To get to the top, you not only have to have talent, but also be obsessive about your profession or hyper-focused. And there are many colleagues in whom I see this."

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