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Non-traditional backgrounds for cyclists (such as skiing etc).

So I've been catching up a bit after not following the sport as closely for some years. One thing that has happened in the past years appears to be a broadening of athletic background before focusing on cycling. At first it was perhaps when MTB specialists crossed over into road racing as well as track cyclists and cyclocross riders but this might have been going on a long time?

Then the watershed moment was perhaps when Primož Roglič came over from being a ski jumper and then there are lots of examples of at least norwegians who have had prominent backgrounds as cross country skiers.

So it seems that the sport has opened up a lot when it comes to what background riders have. I even listened to a podcast with Robbert de Groot from Visma - Lease a Bike Development team and he said that they are specifically looking for riders with diverse backgrounds that might be a benefit to how they develop as cyclists.

So I was wondering to my self what other examples there are of non-standard backgrounds that you know of that pro cyclists have? By that I mean a prominent youth career in a sport that wasn't cycling.

And how new is this phenomenon? Was there ever any prominent examples of top riders from the 70s 80s or 90s for example or even earlier who also crossed over from other sports before making it big in cycling?
 
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There's quite a few in the women's peloton. Evelyn Stevens was working in the world of corporate finance before deciding to try bike racing -she took up crit racing & did well then discovered she could time trial & the rest is history, Claire Steels was a fitness instructor who started her company & in her free time took up racing, Anna Kisenhofer was a maths professor & amateur cyclist, some of the dutchies were speed skaters, & we've had several British Olympic cyclists who had a career in rowing before taking up cycling.
 
The short answer - I dont know if it's a new thing.
But your post immediately got me thinking of Eric Heiden, who started cycling after winning all those olympic gold medals in speed skating back in 1980.

And his sister did it, too. Jeannie Longo was an alpine skier and Maria Canins did cross-country.
And there are of course also a lot of riders who started out as runners, but then got injured and switched to cycling.

I have a feeling that more rowers are coming into the sport nowadays, but it might also just be that I'm more aware of them than I used to be. The fact that you have things like Zwift may also have contributed to more non-cyclists being spotted/getting motivated to take up cycling.
 
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Does Remco count, having played football at a decently high but not world-class level? I have a pretty hard time seeing a world class footballer switching to cycling and reducing their earnings potential by 10x or more.

I don't think switching from other endurance sports to cycling counts for much, especially speed skating which has essentially the exact same physiological requirements.

In the amateur ranks, almost everybody has a background in some other sport, at least around me. Many sports are hard to practice after college age, so folks switch to cycling.

If all you're asking is whether some pros are late to the game, sure, plenty of Mike Woods and Jay Vines types out there, but you have to be that much more exceptional aerobically to survive this game when you lack the bike handling skills which apparently can only be developed as a teenager.
 
I don't think switching from other endurance sports to cycling counts for much, especially speed skating which has essentially the exact same physiological requirements.
I think it counts plenty. Correctly me if I'm wrong but traditionally most cyclists were at least cyclists from an early age rather than swapping to it in their teens, were they not?

I remember Kristoff talking about his team being very skeptical of him skiing in the winter as part of his training but now Visma Development team takes the whole team on skiing camps because they feel it's good training for cycling. It's that shift in mentality I'm curious about.
 
There have been a number of other North American elite female cyclists ( in addition to the forementioned Beth Heiden) who crossed over from speed skating. Canada’s Clara Hughes the most notable. Although not sure if she started in skating or cycling—it’s common for skaters to cycle for summer training.

And Georgia Simmerling competed in both alpine skiing, ski cross and track cycling at the Olympics.
 
There have been a number of other North American elite female cyclists ( in addition to the forementioned Beth Heiden) who crossed over from speed skating. Canada’s Clara Hughes the most notable. Although not sure if she started in skating or cycling—it’s common for skaters to cycle for summer training.
Taylor Phinney's mom, Connie Carpenter, is a speedskater-turned-cyclist who won Olympic gold on the road.

The speedskating to cycling crossover is very common, quite a few Dutch cyclists also have roots in speedskating or at least have some affinity with it. It's not really a non-traditional background for a cyclist. Like with cross country skiing, the physiological demands are quite similar. What makes Primoz Roglic' switch so special is that actually ski jumping has nothing to do with an endurance sport like cycling.
 
Anton Palzer - ski mountaineer
Primoz Roglic - ski jumper
Mathys Rondel - roller skater
Javier Romo - triathlete
Jason Osborne - rower
Bart Lemmen - air force platoon commander and club cyclist starting at the age of 21
Michael Woods - middle-distance runner
Florian Lipowitz - biathlete
Carl Fredrik Hagen - cross-country skier

Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
 
Anton Palzer - ski mountaineer
Primoz Roglic - ski jumper
Mathys Rondel - roller skater
Javier Romo - triathlete
Jason Osborne - rower
Bart Lemmen - air force platoon commander and club cyclist starting at the age of 21
Michael Woods - middle-distance runner
Florian Lipowitz - biathlete
Carl Fredrik Hagen - cross-country skier

Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
If we’re including triathletes as separate from cycling (it is and it isn’t) then there’s also that Lance guy.
 
Quidditch is another discipline that seems to be feeding cycling with new sportsmen:
 
One of the Austrian Continental Teams, for 2024, signed a former sumo wrestler… No joke!…

This was the most spectacular former sports, from which a current pro cyclist came, that I ever heard of. It cannot get any more spectacular than this, imho.

I mean, come on, give me a break: a sumo wrestler becomes a (CT) pro cyclist!… Absolutely crazy…
 
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One of the Austrian Continental Teams, for 2024, signed a former sumo wrestler… No joke!…

This was the most spectacular former sports, from which a current pro cyclist came, that I ever heard of. It cannot get any more spectacular than this, imho.

I mean, come on, give me a break: a sumo wrestler becomes a (CT) pro cyclist!… Absolutely crazy…
That almost sounds like the story of Jean Nüttli I posted above.
 
That almost sounds like the story of Jean Nüttli I posted above.
Indeed… :)

I just had a look for this 2024 sumoringer, I just mentioned.

He‘s Tomoya Koyama, is a former sumo wrestler, and in 2024 will ride for Austrian Continental team Team Vorarlberg (who last year won Volta Portugal with Stüssi).

Koyama lost a lot of weight after his sumo career, and before became pro cyclist, now…

Source: https://www.krone.at/3186742