Teamwork, Coaching, Puncture, and Other Shenanigans

download (4)I probably spend too much time watching . . . no, studying . . . professional cycling; after all, are they not the best in the world? Pedal stroke, toes down or parallel, body position, gap jumping, breakaways, and on and on. I enjoy taking some of what I notice to the road with me. By no means am I an expert, nor do I pretend to be. I am just the guy by the water cooler . . . with shaved legs. Most cyclist have an opinion when it comes to who is the best in the professional ranks, now and the legends of old. Many of us watch a race and blurt out who should do what and when an attack was a stupid idea and question why in the world so-and-so would go into the break. Although deep down inside, we know (or should) that we do not have the ability to carry any of those dudes’ kit bags. That being said, allow me to give my expert, concrete opinion on Paris Roubaix.

There is something to notice about who wins; by who I mean the team and their man. Like Rob O’Neill, “The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden,” he did NOT achieve his self-assigned title alone. Let us see if Mr. O’Neill could wander his happy butt into the Bin Laden compound alone and do what we would have all loved to do. The team is the key. Seal Team Six killed OBL, not just Rob. I digress, but it has a point. Building a cycling team around a really good rider is the norm. I really do not know what Bora Hansgrohe’s yearly objective is or if they even have one. I would like to know if they even have a race to race objective, because right now it appears to be the following:

  1. Start out in a tight pack
  2. Begin breaking apart by mile 50
  3. Not really know who is where by mile 75
  4. Have the best rider on the team do most of the pulling
  5. Have the lone rider in the front be constantly attacked, until he is broken
  6. Lose

This race was a bit different because Phil Liggett said that Sagan had a puncture. Okay, no problem. Have Sagan stop by one of the mechanics along the route and grab a wheel, because teams have dozens of them scattered along the way . . . oh wait . . . let me add that to the list:

  1. Start out in a tight pack
  2. Begin breaking apart by mile 50
  3. Not really know who is where by mile 75
  4. Have the best rider on the team do most of the pulling
  5. Have the lone rider in the front be constantly attacked, until he is broken
  6. If rider has mechanical, have nothing available
  7. Lose

Let us take a look at teams that seem to understand the process, like BMC and FDJ (bless their heart) and Quickstep and SKY . . . I will even throw in Katusha. Team BMC had a major screw up last year in the Tour, but they seemed to learn quickly. Even Quickstep has a self-proclaimed objective this year: Sagan loses, we win. Team SKY is never a huge threat in the classics, but guess what? They are working as a team and giving themselves the best chance. Note to Bora: The Classics are where you have the best chance to win trophies or have stage wins in the Grand Tours become the objective? Maybe the season goal is just to win the green jersey. Well, if that IS the goal, you might want to grab a How to Coach Cycling from Barnes and Noble because Peter Sagan is a marked man and has NO shelter from the storm. The green jersey could be on someone else’s back this year.

Look. I am just sipping my cup of water by the cooler and giving my sage advice. I am taking nothing away from Greg van Avermaet and BMC. He is a phenomenal rider and BMC obviously worked hard for him in Paris Roubaix, E-3, and Gent-Wevelgem. There are bars and recliners full of people who can put a spin on what should have been done. I am just confused at the BORA plan . . . or lack there of. Sure, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but it appears that the plan consisted of the following:

Coach: Okay, men, everyone listen up. Follow the red car until it pulls off then pedal like hell to the velodrome. Questions?

Bon Vélo

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