Israel Start-Up Nation sprinter Davide Cimolai has spoken out about eating disorders and pro cycling's focus on weight loss, saying that he wasted several years of the beginning of his career because of the illness.
Cimolai, now in his 12th year as a pro, spoke about how some coaches and staff in the sport had an "old mentality" regarding nutrition and weight, particularly within Italian cycling. He said that he wishes he could have had someone to guide him as a young rider.
"Many riders, especially young ones, suffer with eating problems," Cimolai said in an interview with Bici.pro. "Unfortunately, the old generation still teaches methodologies that, in my opinion, are wrong.
"I experienced the problem 12 years ago when I turned professional. If those who guide you have the old mentality – if after five hours of training they give you an apple or fruit – you understand that something is wrong. So, you turn pro and think that being light is the only thing that matters, maybe that extra pound is the difference between going fast and stopping racing. I learned that the hard way."
The 31-year-old said that he would have quit racing had he not figured out a solution for himself and proposed that teams should have staff members advise young riders on the issue after they turn professional.
"I would have preferred to find someone on my path who could teach me how to eat well," he said. "If I hadn't figured it out for myself, I really would have stopped racing. The teams would need someone able to explain it to the neo-pros. Abroad now you can find certain figures even in the youth categories, while in Italy there is still too much incompetence."
Cimolai said that he knows of riders who have stopped racing because of eating disorders, adding that he has known riders who taken years to get over their problem.
"There have been those who have stopped racing because of it and there are others who have thrown away their best years, but at least they have recovered and are still in the peloton. One was with me, a fine talent, and it took him six years to come to his senses. The thing is: who gives you that much time?
"I threw away two or three years of my career, the first few as a pro, then I started to change."
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