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.
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