What's Cool In Road Cycling


Last time we promised that Magnus Backstedt would answer one reader question with each diary… Well leave it to the Big Man to throw it into the big ring and get back with answers to a whole pack of reader questions…! This week’s theme is all about Big Guys – size issues, equipment strength, power, and even nicknames…

Q: What’s it like when you are riding in the peleton with a bunch of (small guy) climbers around you? It must be like riding next to some kids.

MB: Sometimes you do feel like a Giant riding around there with the climbers, but then again I have been doing that since my first ever race. I have always been big compared to everyone else on a bike.

Less Weight = More…???
Q: Does losing 8 kilos mean that your sprint is less powerful, or that you will reach the end of a race with more left in the tank?
– T Ashworth,

MB: It does mean that I will have to work less on the climbs and therefore I will either have more left in the tank when I get to the finish of a mountain stage, and it also means I can get over some more climbs and leave myself with some more opportunities to sprint for the win. My sprint hasn’t suffered at all from losing weight. I would say it has helped it.

Punch Up?
Q: Have you ever punched someone in the teeth for calling you “Maggy”?

MB: Never, it’s a name most of my friends call me and I don’t mind at all. If they were to call me by my other nickname it would be too long and complicated (Terminator).

Gear For Big Guys
Q: You are 6’4, I am 6’4. You are 200 plus pounds(at least you were), I am 200 plus pounds. I have been researching ‘stuff I think I can feel safe riding’ for sometime now, and you seem to be one of the few pro riders I know that is about my size. Do you ride the same lightweight frames/ components/ wheels as everyone else on the Liquigas team, or is your stuff a little sturdier? – Eric Hallander

MB: You have nothing to worry about. The frames and wheels built today are strong enough for pretty much anyone. Depending on your riding style and power output I would say that there are some frames better than others for you, and the same goes for the wheels. Due to my power and weight and also riding style I have special frames made by Bianchi, but in saying that I could pick any frame off their production line and be pretty happy with it. For me it’s a search for the perfect tool for the job. That is why I always look for the stiffest bike possible.

Big Guy Fit
Q: I am looking forward to reading your entries over the season. Although not a question exactly, I would love to learn more about your trip to the wind tunnel. As a fellow large cyclist I would like to know if there is anything different about positioning a Clydesdale for time trials, etc. Also, I would enjoy reading an in depth examination of your bicycles and set-ups (road, time trials and track). – David C. Krahulik

MB: Ok David, I will do that for you for the next entry. I will see if I can get together a few pics and knock out a bit of a bike and position story.

Big Guy Advice
Q: What are some words of encouragement that you would pass on to younger “large stature” riders aspiring to go pro, but don’t feel that their bodies “fit” the traditional cycling “mold”?

MB: I would say, don’t give in because of how you are built. I have always been told I was too big to ride a bike, but as you can see I never listened to those people and I think I have done ok so far. The real thing you should look at is always power to weight ratio. As long as you have some good power behind all your weight it doesn’t really matter. It just means that maybe you are not a climber, but there are plenty of other bits of road you can ride fast on.

Big Guy Climbing
Q: I’m a big guy too, at 6’3″ and 200 pounds. As you probably could guess I am no threat on the climbs. Is losing weight the only way a big guy can get faster on the climbs? Or, what, in addition to weight loss, can I do to improve my climbing? – Brian Talbott

– PS: Big shout out to the Pez Boys! I am addicted to your site; as
well as Cycling.tv

MB: The weight issue is always going to hold you back a bit, but there is also the question of how much power you turn out. As long as your Power to weight ratio is good then you can improve your speed on the mountains that way. Obviously a combination of the two gives and even better result


Big Guy Weight
Q: You lost 8 kilos (17.63lbs) over the winter. What did you weigh at the Tour last year, what did your weight go up to during the off-season/post-Tour (if it did go up at all), and then what do you weigh now? A second part to that, any idea of your % body fat now that you are so lean? – Brett Carr

MB: I started the Tour last year on 96kg and in previous years I have gone up to 100kg during the winter but this year I came out of the Tour of Spain weighing 91kg and I only put on 1 kg during this year’s off season. So compared to last years winter I am 8kg lighter. My bodyfat is down to 6% but will drop even more for the big Tours, as of the moment I am pretty happy with how I am going in to the early season classics


Gotta question for Maggy? Send us your thoughts and ideas, and we’ll choose one for Magnus to answer with each diary.
Send your questions to: [email protected]

Read The Magnus Diaries on PEZ
March 22: Back On The Bike
March 3: Here Comes The Season

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