Within the pro peloton, it is very well known that both on men's and women's cycling weight has always been a cause for concern. 22-year old Joe Laverick writes that "you need some sort of disordered eating to be successful in this game."
In a personal column, Laverick, a British rider who has raced for the past two seasons with Axeon Hagens Berman, has shared that "no, it’s not ideal, and no it’s not good for youngsters to hear. But, it is the harsh truth." In a sport where the slightest weight or aerodynamic improvement may be the difference between winning or losing, often times riders get carried away - or are pressured - into making changes and lifestyle options that become unhealthy.
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Laverick tells the story of how in one of his under-23 years he was pressured into losing weight and came down from 66kg to 63kg which saw him climbing better in training. However, "I wasn’t able to replicate it on race day and very quickly became sick. It was probably the unhappiest I’ve ever been too," he adds. When it came to results he could not improve on his level, and instead found less consistency.
"At the top of the sport, there are hundreds of thousands of euros pumped into research that aids the top riders," he continues. "I heard that the Jumbo-Visma staff analyse their rider’s files from training and racing before portioning exactly how much food they can have. While I cannot confirm that story, it would not surprise me."
As the sport and it's technological features continue to evolve year after year, the most minute differences continue to make the difference. Cycling is unlikely to get rid of it's baggage soon when it comes to it's athletes weight obsessions, and the improved climbing performances over the past few years are likely connected to the evolution in the balance found between power and weight.
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