The SHEcret Pro: Your feedback, received

by Anne-Marije Rook


Since the latest column from the SHEcret Pro posted last week, we’ve received a fair amount of feedback — some positive, some not so much.

I want our audience to know that we read your feedback — via the comments section, Facebook and Twitter — and we take it all into consideration. And I want to address some of it, here.

At CyclingTips we actively try to provide our readers with a full spectrum of stories, from race coverage and personality profiles to tech, lifestyle and entertainment.

Informing fans of women’s cycling, and growing that audience, has always been — and continues to be — dear to our hearts, and our mission.

The SHEcret Pro was created to give our readers unique insights into the world of the pro peloton, and to give riders the freedom to write about whichever issues they choose, under the protection of anonymity. It’s an opinion piece, and presented as such.

As the Editor of Ella CyclingTips, I published the recent SHEcret Pro column. And while I stand by my choice to run the article, I want to respond to some concerns that have been voiced.

The section about eating disorders in the peloton, which mentioned Mara Abbott in particular, was not intended as an attack on one specific rider. Eating disorders are very serious illnesses and ones that are unfortunately far too prevalent in the cycling community. Mara is an incredible athlete who has bravely and publicly battled with this disease for years. The sentence that included the passage “there is a fine line — Mara Abbott definitely crossed that line” could have been worded better, and as the editor, I accept responsibility for that. Battling anorexia or bulimia is not a line Mara, or any athlete, chooses to cross. But the intended message was this: Eating disorders have long been a dark undercurrent in the sport, and one that shouldn’t be perpetuated or viewed as a necessary evil to win bike races. And the image of clearly malnourished Olympic champion would not be a positive one — not for today’s pros, and not for tomorrow’s aspiring pros. Eating disorders are the opposite of empowering; Mara has said the same herself.

The section that touched on same-sex couples in the peloton was not included to be salacious nor scandalous. While I wish it weren’t the case, this is actually a question commonly asked of female athletes across many sports. More importantly, while legislation is becoming more progressive across many parts of the western world, the stigma regarding same-sex relationships is far from gone. The sad truth is that athletes still fear coming out due to the impact that it may have on their careers. That’s not isolated to cycling; look at the distress it has caused athletes in other professional sports.

Like it or not, eating disorders and same-sex relationships are two issues commonly discussed in the professional peloton; two issues that our SHEcret Pro felt should be addressed. If the wording on these topics came across as insensitive, I take responsibility for that, and I apologize. I have taken that feedback into account.

However, covering these topics is something we will never stop doing, because as long as these stigmas exist, the worst thing we can do is to ignore them. We intend to continue producing the SHEcret Pro column as a medium to entertain, to spark dialogue, to provide unique insights, to educate and, yes, to rattle the cage every once in a while.

So then, what would you like to read about? What questions do you have for our SHEcret Pro?

Again, we do appreciate your feedback, and we want to hear from you.

Thank you,

Anne-Marije Rook
Ella CyclingTips Editor

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