chapter  4
34 Pages

Rationalism, training and medicine in cycling, I990–2000 1

WithChristophe Brissonneau, Montez de Oca Jeffrey

Chapter 4 shows how professional cycling transformed during the mid-1980s and how a new concept of professionalism emerged. The key transformation in cycling was that it became more rational and scientific. The new professional cycler was one who submitted to hyper-rational, medicalised training regimes that included the regular usage of legal and illegal drugs. The driving force behind these changes was economic. As cycling became a global media spectacle, national and multi-national corporations found it provided cost effective advertising and they began to invest tremendous amounts of money into the sport and its teams. The one requirement for that support was consistent victories or at least top finishes. To achieve that end, they brought their own rational technological model that involved teams of specialists ranging from accountants to exercise physiologists. The bulk of the chapter follows the career of an ideal typical cyclist who moves through the five stages and three dimensions that we theorised in Chapter 1. Charting this process of socialisation shows how macro-level economic and social transformations are experienced at the level of identity and personal experience. It also gives a very clear image of why legal and illegal drug usage is experienced as normal and logical.