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Steve Cummings suspects Team Sky used him as Sir Bradley Wiggins' 'extreme diet guinea pig'

In his new autobiography, the retired pro turned sports director claims he trialled 'crash diets' of 1,000 calories per day, eating just fruit and skimmed milk...

Retired pro Steve Cummings' autobiography is out now and includes interesting details of his time at Team Sky, including being used — as he believes — as a "guinea pig" for team leader Sir Bradley Wiggins' extreme diets.

Spotted by Sticky Bottle, and writing in 'The Break, Life as a Cycling Maverick', Cummings says he was put on extreme diets, sometimes consisting of as little as 1,000 calories per day, to trial the athlete's reaction before trying it with team leader Wiggins.

"To give one example, which I suspect was to act as a test run for Wiggins before they tried it on him, I trialled a super-restricted diet of 1,000 calories a day," Cummings recalled.

"It was centred on what they called 'fruit days': in other words, two pieces of fruit five times a day and half a pint of skimmed milk for your protein, and that'd be it. Our nutritionist would measure your body fat levels and say, 'OK, you're 10 per cent, pop in a couple of fruit days and that'll bring you back down.'

"These were combined with a catabolic diet of no breakfast, ride your bike for up to five hours, then have 200–300 grams of meat or fish and salad for lunch and dinner. Five days on like that, then five days off."

Trialling the diet for three months, in two-week intervals, Cummings says he dropped his weight to 69.9kg, just over 5kg lower than in 2015 and 2016 when he won two stages of the Tour de France, GC at the Tour of Britain, and stages of Tirreno-Adriatico, Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour of the Basque Country.

Despite initially seeing good returns, especially on steep climbs, Cummings said his body later reacted poorly, causing him to become bloated.

Cummings was critical of Sky's "rigid" structure, moving on to BMC in 2012, and later enjoying great success with Dimension Data. Post-retirement, the 41-year-old has since rejoined the team now racing under the Ineos Grenadiers banner as a sports director.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Velovoyeur | 1 year ago

Publishing details of extreme diet methods to the general public can be slightly reckless. There is enough focus on power:weight and percentage body fat in cycling already which has potential to lead to eating disorders and anorexia. Its one thing to follow a diet such as this under controlled medical conditions and for short periods of time but, unfortunately, there are some people who will take this as a lifestyle model and jeopardise their health.

Let's hope there are warning and caveats published with this and that some don't take this as gospel. 

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

It seems he's a bit brave criticising the structure & practices of the team he's now a sporting director of.

In a lot of workplaces that would be a firing/disciplinary.

Surreyrider | 1 year ago

If you're going to copy another media outlet's story at least do it immediately rather than wait for almost a week. Road CC needs to up its game or I'm cancelling my subscription. 

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