Good looking male cyclists are more likely to finish first in a bike race, a study has found.
Scientists made the link after asking both men and women to rate the attractiveness of 80 professional elite cyclists who finished the 2012 Tour de France, generally considered to be one of the most gruelling endurance events.
Although a preference for physically fitter males is well known as females prefer to pair off with high quality males, the relationship between attractiveness and performance has rarely been quantified.
The study was carried out by who created two online surveys, each containing the photos of 40 of the cyclists in a random order.
Participants were asked to rate each cyclist in terms of attractiveness on a scale of one to five, along with a masculinity and likeability score.
The study found that cyclists aged 29.6 were seen as the most attractive, along with the taller and heavier riders. Rider nationality bore no variation in attractiveness, nor was there any effect of facial expression.
The results found that those that performed better in the race were also the ones that had been seen as the most attractive.
This preference was shown to be the strongest in women who were not using a hormonal contraceptive. Although their preference was significantly weaker, heterosexual men also rated the more successful cyclists as being the most attractive.
Dr Postma said the study "provides a fascinating new insight into the nature of human endurance performance".
He said the few studies that have quantified the link between attractiveness and performance in the past have used a random sample from the general population which has resulted in many variables but Tour de France competitors could be seen as a relatively homogeneous group in terms of training effort and motivation.
The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.