Sexy cyclists: Hands up who fancies men with shaved legs? | Peter Walker

As well as giving you thighs of steel and an unhealthy interest in gear ratios and carbon fibre widgets, did you realise that an interest in cycling will make you more attractive to the opposite sex? Well, a PR-generated "survey" claims so, meaning it must be true, right?

The findings come in a poll carried out to publicise the Cycle Show, which runs this weekend at the Earls Court centre in west London.

As Helen Pidd reported, this year's event is supposed to be aimed particularly at attracting female riders. Unfortunately, the show's PR people missed that particular memo – their survey gives women decidedly old-fashioned the role of onlooking admirers, asking them which "typical male sporting pursuit" they find the most alluring.

Astonishingly, for a study commissioned to promote a bike show, cycling came out on top. In all, 36% of the women asked found men who cycle attractive, against 17% for football and 14% for rugby. If we believe the findings, the words women tended to associate with cyclists were the likes of "kind" and "intelligent", as against "aggressive" and "selfish" for football lovers.

Even if we take the findings at face value – and that's a big leap to start with – I find this notion of the cyclist-as-sex-symbol a bit hard to take. Yes, as a pursuit it keeps you fit, and does wonders for the legs. But while the likes of Chris Hoy are suitably chunky, are we really expected to believe that women prefer the rake-thin physique of most pro road riders – make that skeletal for the road cycling climbers – over the more even musculature of, say, footballers?

And let's face it, those funny tan lines are never a good look. Shaved legs on men, meanwhile, remain a niche area of appeal.

The survey is, however, definitely right on one front. You might think you look great in the full, body-hugging Lycra gimp suit, but chances are your girlfriend disagrees – according to the poll only 7% of the women asked found it a good look.

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