Rouleur #117

Founded in 2006, Rouleur magazine is currently published eight times a year and is the world’s leading cycling magazine, featuring independent, award-winning journalism showcasing the culture of the sport.

What's in edition 117 of Rouleur?

In the introduction to my rundown of what went into Rouleur 116: Mind, I mentioned that the best thing about road racing was that clever riders can beat stronger rivals. I stand by that. But as I was putting together the latest edition of the magazine, Rouleur 117: Body, it occurred to me that the best thing about road racing is also that it is open to so many different body types.

There’s a famous stat, cited in David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene, that 17 per cent of American men aged 20 to 40 who stand seven feet tall, played in the NBA. Of course, not many people grow to seven feet, so we’re not talking about many people, but the point is that basketball generally selects for height. Most professional basketball players are tall, and the presence of a few shorter individuals does not alter the general truth.

Other sports also select for body type. Sumo wrestling is an obvious example. Elite marathoners are all slight. Swimmers generally have long arms relative to their heights and big hands and feet.

But road cycling? Power to weight counts, and so at the elite level the sport does select for leanness, plus, obviously, cardiovascular fitness. But riders can be short, tall, broad and narrow, and everything in between, and can find success. Climbers are always light, though they can be short or tall; sprinters may present in a more muscular fashion, but they can also be tall or short. Puncheurs may be light or stocky; rouleurs tend to be taller. Many riders thrive on specific territory, but the sport’s terrain is so varied that there is something for everybody.