Mental toughness of pro cyclists

Are pro cyclists the most mentally tough athletes of any sport? This in no way is a knock on the cyclists that do find it difficult but to show that the top performers’ mental attitude is more superhuman than their physical strengths compared with us mortals watching on the couch, even moreso because I imagine that most teams and riders don’t have dedicated sports psychologists.

  1. I don’t follow memes, but the one I have is soccer players act like they’re injured but cyclists after a crash act like they’re perfectly fine.

  2. Roglic can lose such a heartbreaking TdF then become even more competitive and seem really happy to win every other chance he gets no matter the race.

  3. Evenepoel gets called fat by his manager in his first year of pro racing (I feel like him staying with Lefevre might be closer to staying in an abusive relationship more than Bennett going back to Bora, but that’s another topic); then has the GOAT question why he is selected for the national team, and Evenepoel’s response is (paraphrase, not a direct quote) “I respect him. I’m sorry that respect isn’t mutual.”

  4. WVA is the second best rider at multiple events, to different specialist riders, and not only has that as a personal disappointment but also is reminded of it and asked by the media about it as disappointments, then he goes into the world championship race on his home soil, a month out is told he’s the undisputed leader, and accepts that responsibility.

  5. Three GC contenders quit mid-race from this year’s Vuelta for psychological reasons. All my best wishes go out to them and their families, but what should be more surprising is that’s isn’t frequent.


Don’t know about “toughest in the world”, since there are a LOT of quite challenging pursuits out there, but certainly tougher than most ordinary folk would think when they see an unimposing pro cyclist on his bike zipping through town in spandex.

I don’t think any elite sports person in any sport deserves to be compared to someone in another sport. Each is at (or as close as possible given the contemporary situation) the absolute peak of what they need to do, and what the human body and mind can achieve (for that elite group of people who have the right genetic attributes and socio-economic opportunities for their particular sport).

Soccer players dive because it’s in their interests to. If they can wrangle a penalty then that could just translate into the match winning goal.

One cyclist being body shamed t is probably on par with the experiences of about 80% of the female population.

So no, I don’t see cyclists as being tougher than other sportspeople. They’re all tough at that level.

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If a cyclist could impose a time penalty on their rival by staying on the ground longer, they would. It’s in a footballers interest to go down easier to get an advantage. The cyclist needs to get up quickly or else they are at a disadvantage because of a bigger gap. It’s not a toughness thing, it’s playing what’s in front of you. I don’t follow soccer but the abuse they get on line, from the stands and on their own social media posts is something I couldn’t face. They show resilience there, although they shouldn’t have to deal with that.

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I think endurance athletes in general probably have a mental strength higher than the more fast-twitch muscle athletes.

Elite athletes across the board are dedicated, focused, driven, etc. but between the two its training your body and mind to do things that are beyond the norm.

While not fast (not by a long shot) anyone can run a 100 meter dash as fast as they can. You cant just line anyone up and tell them to go bike a 100 miles or run a marathon.

For an added layer of mental toughness (as mentioned already) the vast majority of cyclists on teams have trained themselves to the highest level to go into a race knowing their job is to not win.

On the topic of this sort of thing, Endure by Alex Hutchinson is a good look at how the human mind and body work to push and protect us in beyond the norm human activities.

Miguel Angel Lopez might be the exception that proves the rule; his Vuelta meltdown gives a glimpse into how mentally taxing a grand tour is. It’s notable that it doesn’t happen more often.

Furthermore, it’s not just their ability to suffer, but live a life completely focused on training, eating, and racing.