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World Class Cyclists & Special Diets – Peter Sagan

By Jiri Kaloc

Want to be the best road cycling sprinter in the world? Then maybe you should eat like one! You will hardly find a more impressive sprint resume than the one of Peter Sagan. He is known not only for beating the best to the finish line but also for his inimitable personality and re-fuelling with handfuls of gummy bears after winning a race. Let’s check out his diet and see if we can learn something!

Enjoying food is important

If you ever saw Sagan in an interview, you know that he likes to joke around and have fun. And that seems to be his attitude with everything. Sports Director and Coach at BORA-Hansgrohe, Patxi Vila, said that trying to prohibit Peter from eating something unhealthy on a day off is not very effective. “Even if I told him he can’t have this beer he would just respond: ‘Fuck off’”. But it’s not a big issue, Peter is a professional, he knows what his body can handle. Also, he is not a climber, he needs to be strong and explosive, so a little bit of weight is not a big deal. It’s more important that he feels good. If they have a free day at the training camp, Peter will treat himself when they eat out.


Proper nutrition when racing

Peter’s nutrition is very well taken care of when racing. His team provides the nutritional plan and the meals when they travel to stage races like the Tour de France. Tinkoff-Saxo’s team chef Hannah Grant helps riders dial in their nutrition and even lose some excess weight if necessary.

“Almost half of the cyclists on the team find it difficult to lose the weight they need to, despite extreme physical activity and low calorie intake. We found that for these cyclists, radically cutting down on carbohydrate intake and increasing protein and healthy fat intake works best. Performance-focused cooking takes care of this by providing riders with the option of avoiding carbohydrate-rich foods and offering alternatives in the form of meat, vegetables, and healthy fats with every meal.”

Gummy bears to the rescue

Remember when Peter Sagan opted for handfuls of Haribo gummy bears after his win at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne? Turns out, even candy can sometimes be a part of professional cycling nutrition. Even though it might not seem like it, gummy bears do help glycogen replenishment if consumed immediately after a race. If you’re wondering whether it’s a good idea for you too, check out our previous article on the topic.

Peter Sagan, the chef

When Peter isn’t competing he is also apparently a master chef. A man of many talents! If you’re interested in what his favourite foods and recipes are, you should check out this YouTube video series. This is Peter’s version of corn fed chicken with topinambur flakes.

Even though Peter Sagan is not an example of the most disciplined athlete when it comes to nutrition, he knows his body, and knows what he can get away with. He treats himself to more than his coaches would want, but it allows him to feel good and do what he does best, sprint. We should all adjust our diets to match our racing style and competitive goals.

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