Bike Shorts: Cycling and TeamworkOn October 11, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Hey, this is Jonathan Vaughters, and I’m going to explain to you exactly how teamwork applies to cycling and how cycling really is a team sport and not an individual sport. So the first thing you have to understand is that the biggest component in cycling that changes it into a very tactical and strategic sport, as opposed to a sport of pure strength, is the concept of drafting. Drafting is simply when one rider rides behind another one. The first rider, you’ll see, is the one cutting through the wind. This rider back here is saving 30-40% energy compared to this rider. And as you get further back and there are more riders in front of you, the energy savings can get higher and higher and higher. So, when we talk about teamwork, we’re talking about when you are going to expend the energy of the eight different riders on each team in the Tour de France. Now the first thing you have to understand about that, is that like any other team sport, we have different positions for different riders, there are certain riders that have a certain role in the race, and there are other riders that have another role in the race. And interestingly, most of the riders on the team are not actually trying to win the race themselves. They’re actually trying to help somebody else win the race. The best analogy that I can use for that is it’s like a rocket ship. And so, with a rocket ship, and I’m a really, really poor artist here, with a rocket ship you have different stages of the rocket, and as the rocket goes up into space, each stage uses up its fuel to get the objective of getting this satellite, or this man to the moon or whatever it is at the top, so lets call this… this is the team leader right here. This guy, just one person, and his objective is to win the race. Now down here, these guys, this is two to three riders on your team, and what they’re trying to do is basically minimize the amount of work that this rider has to do, when I say work, I mean time in the wind, literally minimize his effort as much as they possibly can for the early part of the race. So if he has a flat tire, these guys, they wait for him. If he needs a water bottle, they wait for him. If he needs a rain jacket, they go and get it for him. So that’s their job, and they’re probably using up almost all of their energy, so that stage gets cutoff, well lets say about halfway, or maybe two-thirds of the way through the race. They’re done. The second part of the rocket, and these riders are a little bit more crucial. And again, two to three riders, these guys, their job is to really follow the team leader around and keep him out of the wind, and when I say out of the wind, I mean in the draft, as much as they possibly can, all the way to the waning, waning moments of the race. So they’re using up their fuel, unlike these guys where they’re pretty much done, they’re not done with the race, they still have to finish, but they, they kind of creep their way in the last half or the last third of the race. These guys are trying to carry him to the waning moments of the race, maybe the last 10k, maybe the last kilometre, whatever that might be, depending on the type of race it is, but they’re using up their fuel for the first three-quarters, or almost 95% of their race. And then that leads to this guy. And this guy, his job is basically to conserve as much energy as he possibly can, until just right before the finish line, or just before the last mountain of the race. And that’s when he starts racing to actually win the deal, or close the job. So that’s how teamwork works in cycling, different riders with different positions. I know you’d feel kind of sorry about for these guys down here, but this is the job they love, and these guys right here, they’re probably just as strong as the team leader, but they prefer helping other people. You know, different people have different attributes, different psychology, and the thing to understand is that if this guy wins, the prize money that he gets for winning the race is split equally among all the team members.