I am a huge fan of the Tour de France. My husband introduced me to it many years ago, so we always look forward to the beginning of July and the three weeks of cycling that follows.
My very favorite part of the Tour is the Team Time Trial, which might surprise most people as it is not the most exciting stage. There aren’t any dramatic sprint finishes or punishing mountaintop pursuits, but it is a beauty unto itself.
The Team Time Trial doesn’t happen every year, so it is always a special treat for me when it does. Yesterday was the Team TT in the 2018 Tour. Team BMC, which is an American team, won the stage and they were able to do it as a result of beautiful and masterful teamwork.
Competitive cycling at this level is a truly a team sport although you might not think of it that way. Only one person can win, so how is it a team sport? Every single person on each team has a very important role to play. Yes, there is generally one “leader” who has the potential to win the whole race, but the race is made up of 21 Stages, 22 teams with 8 riders to a team.
It doesn’t matter how great one rider is as an individual, they absolutely can NOT win without a great team behind them. The other team members provide protection, support, and communication. This brings me back to the team time trial, as no other stage exemplifies what it takes to succeed as a team like this one.
They have a plan for how they are going to attack the course, who is going to lead out, and where each rider is in the rotation. Each rider takes turns “pulling” or leading the team. This allows the riders behind the leader to benefit from the draft and not work as hard. The plan extends to when someone may need to be dropped because they may not be strong enough to finish in the top group as the time for the team is based on when the fourth rider crosses the line.
Is the last rider on the team to finish less important than the first rider to finish? No – the first rider doesn’t have the same chance to get there without EVERYONE on the team.
Do you value ALL of your team members or only those that are out in front?
Photo credit – ASO/Pauline BALLET