No, cyclists cannot eat whatever they want. Cyclists may feel like their intense training sessions justify eating whatever they want, however, they should focus on a balanced diet, rich in minimally-processed whole foods for optimal health and performance.
Many athletes think that they can “eat whatever they want” because they burn upwards of 1000kcal during a ride but calories aren’t the only consideration for athletes. Competitive cyclists often have higher protein, iron, sodium, and magnesium needs than the general population, and inadequate nutrient consumption from a junk food-heavy diet can lead to frequent illness, injury, and poor performance.
While it’s perfectly fine to indulge in junk food every once in a while, eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, poultry, fish, and dairy, is generally best for long-term health and performance.