Peter Kennaugh: The human cost of performance and finding closure

Peter Kennaugh
Peter Kennaugh (Image credit: Wahoo/Ertzui Film)

At the Rouleur Live event in London last week, former professional Peter Kennaugh spoke extensively about his decision to retire in 2019, along with his struggles on and off the bike. The former Team Sky rider has made no secret of his battles, both physically and mentally, and Wahoo created a stunning short film with Kennaugh at his home on the Isle of Man, which you can watch below. While in London, Kennaugh also sat down with Philippa York, and in this exclusive piece, she gives her perspective on Kennaugh’s career, his bravery in speaking publicly, and the need for fans to remember that riders are not robots.

Abergavenny 2009, the British road race championships are coming to their conclusion under a scorching sun. I’ve been watching from a nicely shaded part of the final circuit, about halfway up the rise to the feed zone and it looks like it’s been a brutal race because there are groups scattered all over the place. In the front, there are four riders left: Chris Froome, Dan Lloyd, Kristian House, and one of the U23 riders from the British Cycling development set-up, 100% Me, called Peter Kennaugh.

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Philippa York

Philippa York is a long-standing Cyclingnews contributor, providing expert racing analysis. As one of the early British racers to take the plunge and relocate to France with the famed ACBB club in the 1980's, she was the inspiration for a generation of racing cyclists – and cycling fans – from the UK.

The Glaswegian gained a contract with Peugeot in 1980, making her Tour de France debut in 1983 and taking a solo win in Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees, the mountain range which would prove a happy hunting ground throughout her Tour career. 

The following year's race would prove to be one of her finest seasons, becoming the first rider from the UK to win the polka dot jersey at the Tour, whilst also becoming Britain's highest-ever placed GC finisher with 4th spot. 

She finished runner-up at the Vuelta a España in 1985 and 1986, to Pedro Delgado and Álvaro Pino respectively, and at the Giro d'Italia in 1987. Stage race victories include the Volta a Catalunya (1985), Tour of Britain (1989) and Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (1990). York retired from professional cycling as reigning British champion following the collapse of Le Groupement in 1995.