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  1. #1
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    Tour de France question

    Please educate me. I know the race is a team sport and the riders all have their "jobs" to do on the team. But is it predetermined who on the team (unbeknownst to us) is supposed to win and everyone else should just do their part to make that person win?

    If the answer is yes, why would anyone join a team knowing they can't win individually?

    If the answer is no, how do the teammates figure out how to support one another if they are all fighting to win individually?
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  2. #2
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    The simple answer people will join a team to support a team leader or leaders for money. It is the job they are paid for and the one they are expected to do. Still on some teams there are more than one strong rider and the team will support one or all of them to see if they can’t give them the best chance of winning the race overall. The complete answer would take too long.

  3. #3
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    As you said, each rider has his job to do based on their talents and abilities. There are a limited number of riders who have the right mix of skills and strengths to compete for the overall GC win. Others may be sprinters who try to win the flat stages with the help of other teammates who try to deliver them to the front in time for the sprint finish. Others may try for stage wins on breakaways when doing so will not hurt the team's GC contenders. Some riders are simply there to serve the others. They are professionals and that is their job.

    Many teams only have one GC contender and everyone knows they will work for him. Other teams may have two or more possible GC contenders. Usually one of the contenders will emerge as the most likely to win and the rest of the team will fall in line to support him.
    This can get complicated when two or more riders on a team stay equally matched throughout the tour. The team director will have to make a decision at some point or he can let them fight it out on the road.

    It can get especially complicated when one of the contenders might be one of the owners of the team that the team director will work for next year.
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  4. #4
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Same principle as football. Not everyone gets to carry the ball across the goal line but the overall goal is a team win. For most teams (except for Astana this year) it is very clear who the GC contender is-and normally it is just one rider.

  5. #5
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Professional riders need to make a living and are paid. Like most employees, they are recruited and selected for their talent / star power which is then applied as part of a potential winning strategy across many races for the year and attracting sponsors.

    Pro cycling teams are not investments per se. There are no ticket sales, TV rights, property rights, or anything that has residual value. All the money is spent and there is no revenue. Sponsors treat pro cycling as a cost of advertising. So in reality, there are no shareholders in the way that there are in sports franchises which have revenue and residual value.

    An individual or company could take the lead in forming a team with the idea of generating sales of equipment through advertising. Cervelo Test Team is a prime example.

    If you want to know the workings of a pro cycling team, get Bruyneel's book "We Might as Well Win". He discusses the questions you ask in detail. And the team director knows each racers' power numbers, training and track record as well as their mental toughness.

    The TdF is a long race over 3 weeks. A lot can happen and the final week can be very tough on riders. On the surface, Astana looks like they have 3 or 4 GC contenders. In reality, they may have only one. However, allowing the controversy keeps Astana's name front and center.
    Last edited by Hermes; 07-14-09 at 11:55 AM.

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    Why are there 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks in the NCAA and NFL? Why do some people sit the bench at a major college basketball program when they could be stars in lesser programs? Why are there several classes of minor league baseball? Most of the lesser talents realize they don't stand a chance winning a major event. They get an opportunity to earn a living doing something they love and get many of the benefits of being associated with the stars and their teams. No one wins in cycling without team support. Just look at today's stage. As good as Cavendish is, he's nowhere without a teammate to put him in position to win.

  7. #7
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    It gets even more complicated when one realizes that the "team" has more than the 9 riders represented in the TDF. There may be other riders taking part in other events at the same time. There may be developmental riders awaiting their turn at the brass ring. Being picked from the overall squad to actually be part of the TDF 9 is still quite a feather in the cap of the younger riders, even if their whole race is spent bringing water bottles from the car to the lead riders.

    In some respects, the question is similar to why anyone would want to be the third string punt returner for the Kansas City Chiefs.

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    So, I guess the short answer is yes, it is predetermined.

    The exception being if you have more than 1 strong rider the team director either chooses one or let's them fight it out on their own as BluesDawg said.

    Thanks for clearing it up for me.
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  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexdrozd View Post
    So, I guess the short answer is yes, it is predetermined.


    Thanks for clearing it up for me.
    Plans do not always work out. Riders get sick- have accidents- get caught out when a break occurs and so lose time- the rest of the team is not up to standard but one rider gets a lucky break.
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    An interesting discussion. All good points, though I don't think it's so much a matter of 'lesser/greater' talents, or of 'predetermination', for that matter, as it is simple differences, albeit pitched at a very high level. It's easy to forget that the career rouleur on a pro road cycling team has, through a combination of genetic gift + training, the ability to ride a bike 20 to 30,000 miles a year (training and racing) at speeds which the 'rest of us' can only dream of. Then there are those who excel in the specialist disciplines: sprints, climbs, and time trials. They get towed along by the rouleurs, so they can do their thing when the time comes, and win stages. Then there are those very, very few who combine the endurance of the rouleur with being really, really good at both climbing and time trialling (without necessarily being the best at either of those two specialist disciplines, though they're usually right up there in one or the other): those are the GC contenders. In one sense, as pointed out above, the lowly rouleurs are absolutely key -- the big names can do nothing without them.

  11. #11
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    The biggest issue missing from this discussion is that pro cycling includes more than the Tour de France. A lot of these non-leader guys ARE team leaders in other races and win other events through out the year.

    Lance helped Levi win in California; Levi helps Lance in France.
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  12. #12
    Broom Wagon Fodder reverborama's Avatar
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    Also, keep in mind that there are many races within the race. Some teams don't have a legitimate GC guy. Take Columbia HTC for example. Michael Rogers is a fine rider, but he won't be on the podium. They are competing for stage wins and the Green Jersey. They also have Tony Martin who is a strong rider for the White Jersey.

    Other teams like BBox or Skil Shimano are hoping to get a couple of guys into breakaways that survive and win a stage that would normally be taken by a stronger team. That's already happened a couple of times.

    What happens to Astana next year will be really interesting. If they play their cards right they could have the top 3 or 4 finishers this year. Lance wants to start his own team, Alberto is talented enough to have his own team (and a rumor is that he will with the help of an F1 guys). Levi and Andreas could be the stars of other teams, too. The lineup in next year's TdF will see some big changes, I think.

  13. #13
    ES&D t4mv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reverborama View Post
    ... The lineup in next year's TdF will see some big changes, I think.
    Man, I sure hope so!

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