Maybe a dumb question ....Sorry

Jun 30, 2013
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Saw a brief programme yesterday that showed a little bit about team sky earlier in the year and who would be chosen to challenge for the title, Wiggins or Froome, but I dont understand, why cant they just race and whoever was the fastest wins? why does it have to be alrady decided who wins, I like watching the tour when i can but clearly dont know anything about the rules or team strategies etc
 
Jan 30, 2011
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garyynwa said:
Saw a brief programme yesterday that showed a little bit about team sky earlier in the year and who would be chosen to challenge for the title, Wiggins or Froome, but I dont understand, why cant they just race and whoever was the fastest wins? why does it have to be alrady decided who wins, I like watching the tour when i can but clearly dont know anything about the rules or team strategies etc
Cycling may appear to be an individual sport, but it's really team based (not only at pro level, but also in important races at state, regional and local levels amongst amateurs).

As a result, in order for the team to have the best chance of winning, someone needs to be the leader and the primary rider that the others work for.

Designating the leader helps determine who will take turns pulling the peloton (or just the team), where each rider will sit in order to make best use of drafting (and hence saving energy until it's really needed), who goes back for food, drinks, team orders, etc., when should members of the team drop back to help a rider who has had a mechanical, puncture, crash, who goes off the front in a break, etc., etc. etc.

Essentially, knowing in advance who is leading the team determines a whole range of strategies and tactics for a race; and helps with the many in race decisions that are then required in a stage race.

EDIT: Should also add, it's a team sport because it's been demonstrated that over time, a team of riders can go faster than an individual on their own; so in order to get the fastest possible time, it's best to take a team approach. If everyone just went on their own, they would need every other team in the race to work the same way. As soon as a team of riders work together, they will go faster than the individuals in the long run.
 
Jan 23, 2013
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Good answers in the previous post.

Additionally, when you read about the debate over Sky's leader matters quite a bit.

In the early spring, most teams outline the race schedules for their riders. The TdF is the big prize, so a rider who is aiming to win it has a race schedule planned so they come into the TdF in top form. To reach top form at the right time, a racer needs to have just the right amount of racing and training days leading up to it.

So, the debate over the team leader needs to be decided early enough to allow for proper scheduling of all of the team's riders.

Froome - like Contador - rode the Dauphine and not the Giro. The Dauphine is largely considered to be a good "primer" race prior to the TdF while the Giro-Tour double is regarded as being too difficult, even if the Giro is ridden as a block of training. (we'll see hw Evans copes with the challenge of the double this year)

That said, it appears to me that Sky made their decision behind closed doors - and kept tight-lipped about it - prior to placing Wiggins in the Giro.

Given that there is more climbing in this TdF route and less TT miles, I think Froome was the obvious choice.

Prior to last year's TdF, Wigins was quoted as saying that the course suited him and that he was going to go for the opportunity whie it was there. To me, that suggests that he realized that such an opportunity was rare and he was fortunate to be at the peak of his career while there was such a TT heavy route (comparatively). Also, last year there was no Contador to contend with and other top contenders were having marginal years.

I mean no disrespect to Wiggins at all. He's a worthy champion in my opinion. But, it was a matter of many factors coming together last year at the right time and he took full advantagem rode amazingly well, and won it.
 
It's also worth noting that Wiggins' form earlier this year gave no indication that he was going to be in the shape of a leader, joint leader or super domestique, and it was revealed a few weeks ago that Sky had told him it would be Porte that played 2nd fiddle to Froome. The minor knee injury appeared soon after. Richard Moore went on record this week to state that Brad would have rode the Tour last year with such an injury ahead of it.

And then there's the issue that Froome wanted Wiggins nowhere near the Sky team because of their personal differences. It has been interesting to hear Brailsford and Kerrison with two very different opinions on what the effect of their dislike of each other would have had on the team. DB states that any team needs that internal competitiveness, while TK suggests everyone must pull in the same direction.

I don't think the ego of either Froome or Wiggins would have coped with being told: "let the road decide," and that would have perhaps caused the team to implode.
 
Jan 23, 2013
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For some interesting historical perspective, you can read up on the La Vie Claire (sp?) infighting between Hinault and LeMond in the 1980's or the similar situation when Armstrong and Contador were each on Astana.

Eventually, in such circumstances, the team director is forced to pick a side and then there is a situation where one of the co-leaders is slighted and a portion of the team essentially mounts a mutiny.

The Schlecks are an exception. They effectively acted as co-leaders in 2011. But, many have suggested that Andy's propensity to appear to wait for his brother in the mountains cuased him to do less than realize his full potential in races past.

In this year's your, it wil be intersting to see how things play out for Miviestar. Valverde is their designated leader, but Quintana is arguably more capable as a contender given the parcourse. Quintana has stated that he will take opportunities as they arise. This hints that the team will suport Valverde while Quintana acts as a loose cannon or lone wolf. That could make a nightmare for other teams or could lead to a catastrophe for Movistar.

Stories such as these are fun to watch unfold.
 
TheBean said:
For some interesting historical perspective, you can read up on the La Vie Claire (sp?) infighting between Hinault and LeMond in the 1980's or the similar situation when Armstrong and Contador were each on Astana.

Eventually, in such circumstances, the team director is forced to pick a side and then there is a situation where one of the co-leaders is slighted and a portion of the team essentially mounts a mutiny.

The Schlecks are an exception. They effectively acted as co-leaders in 2011. But, many have suggested that Andy's propensity to appear to wait for his brother in the mountains cuased him to do less than realize his full potential in races past.

In this year's your, it wil be intersting to see how things play out for Miviestar. Valverde is their designated leader, but Quintana is arguably more capable as a contender given the parcourse. Quintana has stated that he will take opportunities as they arise. This hints that the team will suport Valverde while Quintana acts as a loose cannon or lone wolf. That could make a nightmare for other teams or could lead to a catastrophe for Movistar.

Stories such as these are fun to watch unfold.
no. This - every team has to have 1 leader was invented by Wiggins last year in order to stop froome from being allowed to challenge him. and the main historical inspiration for this was Armstrong US postal who at the time was still the hero of the Anglophone cycling world. If Armstrong always won as sole leader therefore that must be a cycling rule, or so the logic went.

In reality it is far more common for teams to give a second rider a free role than you make out. Even in your example from 2009 Armstrong never helped Contador, and brunyeel did not choose Contador, but just let the cards fall as they may.
 
Sep 21, 2009
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The Hitch said:
no. This - every team has to have 1 leader was invented by Wiggins last year in order to stop froome from being allowed to challenge him. and the main historical inspiration for this was Armstrong US postal who at the time was still the hero of the Anglophone cycling world. If Armstrong always won as sole leader therefore that must be a cycling rule, or so the logic went.

In reality it is far more common for teams to give a second rider a free role than you make out. Even in your example from 2009 Armstrong never helped Contador, and brunyeel did not choose Contador, but just let the cards fall as they may.
Roger de Vlaeminck does not approve your post ;)

Like it or not, the idea of a single leader per team is as old as teams. Google for the 1934 TdF.
 
Sep 21, 2009
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The Hitch said:
I never said the idea of a single team leader never existed. I said the idea of multiple team leaders does.
Fair enough. I'll take the Wiggins' invention historically inspired in Armstrong USPS as a literary figure of yours ;)
 
Mar 10, 2009
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The Hitch said:
This - every team has to have 1 leader was invented by Wiggins last year in order to stop froome from being allowed to challenge him. and the main historical inspiration for this was Armstrong US postal who at the time was still the hero of the Anglophone cycling world. If Armstrong always won as sole leader therefore that must be a cycling rule, or so the logic went.
The Hitch said:
I never said the idea of a single team leader never existed. I said the idea of multiple team leaders does.
What? Your second sentence in the first post (I removed the first in the quote) says Wiggins invented it. Might want to fix that sentence a bit.
 
Jun 18, 2012
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The Hitch said:
Even in your example from 2009 Armstrong never helped Contador, and brunyeel did not choose Contador, but just let the cards fall as they may.
My memory of this is that Bruyneel implicitly chose Armstrong as the leader, as shown in team selection and race tactics. Publicly, he talked about backing the strongest rider, and most of us knew that was BS. Contador took the initiative on a day in the Pyranees when he was supposed to follow orders and lollygag to the finish. Armstrong and Bruyneel were both visibly upset that Contador didn't go with the plan and proved himself the strongest on that day, instead of leaving Armstrong ahead of him on gc.

But that's going off on a tangent. One reason teams have a designated leader, especially for a grand tour, is that most teams only have one rider with a legitimate chance to win, or even place well, overall. When a team has two (or more) real contenders it can be a nightmare splitting the team. Or, it can be a great tactical advantage. A lot of that depends on the personalities of the rider. Some simply cannot handle the fact that a teammate might get better press.
 
The secondary rider with a free role thing doesn't require a big rethink.

At Movistar, for example, Valverde is the leader. He goes into the race with the number 1 for the team on his back, and the majority of the team's aims for the race are based around helping him in his GC ambitions. By giving Nairo Quintana a free role, they are essentially exempting him from those requirements until such time as they become necessary. If Quintana loses a bucketload of time and becomes GC-irrelevant, then they will adjust the team's strategy to incorporate Quintana into Valverde's helpers where necessary, and if Valverde loses a bucketload of time and Quintana becomes the best Movistar option, then those riders who were working for Valverde then work for Quintana.

While many GCs in recent years have been won by teams with a one-leader, all for the one leader approach (Nibali 2013, Basso 2010 - remember Nibali in the maglia rosa helping Basso along in the strade bianche stage - Menchov 2009, and Wiggins 2012), many have also been won by a rider despite teammates riding either against him or for their own ambitions (Contador 2008 Vuelta, Contador 2009 Tour) or with the 'let the road decide' mentality and with capable team leaders acting as domestiques when the time arises (Sastre 2008 with the Schlecks running interference behind, Cobo 2011 with Menchov domestiquing for him in week 3).
 
Jan 23, 2013
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Hitch,

I have to respectfully disagree. Most teams that have a true chance at a top GC place or a realistic shot at the green jersey come to the tour with a singular focus on a singular goal with one rider as the designated leader.

This year:

Sagan is the clear team leader and Liquigas' only objective is the green jersey.
Same goes for Cav and Omega, Greipel and Lotto, Kittel and Argos.

The top GC riders all have unified support, with maybe a wildcard that has some freedom - but not much support.

Evans is the clear leader for BMC, Froome for Sky, Contador for Saxo, etc.

This has been the case for years, and it works better than the other options.

Teams with no realistic shot at a jersey in Paris may have different leaders who are "opportunists" seeking glory on an individual stage. That worked well for Shack on stage 2 today. So, your summary that many teams have no clear leaders is correct, but those teams also have no clear objectives. In short, they are "also rode" riders hoping for a single day of glory.
 
Jun 18, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Csc 2008??
I thought they were behind Sastre 100% and just took advantage of Fränk Schleck's opportune taking of yellow, while being a viable podium candidate, and then used Schleck as a decoy for Sastre's attack. Maybe Fränk had that wildcard role. I don't quite remember.
 
Nah, Fränk was free. Otherwise he would have earnt himself some serious trouble by attacking on Hautacam and meaning they had to defend the jersey for a week extra. If Fränk was supposed to be a superdom for Sastre all along, it would make his and Andy's whining about Sastre attacking on Alpe d'Huez even more inappropriate (and would have made Fränk even more of a *** for telling his team leader he wasn't allowed to attack on Bonette, what's more of course if they were working for Sastre unquestionedly then Sastre wouldn't even have asked Fränk, would have just gone).
 
TheBean said:
Hitch,

I have to respectfully disagree. Most teams that have a true chance at a top GC place or a realistic shot at the green jersey come to the tour with a singular focus on a singular goal with one rider as the designated leader.

This year:

Sagan is the clear team leader and Liquigas' only objective is the green jersey.
Same goes for Cav and Omega, Greipel and Lotto, Kittel and Argos.

The top GC riders all have unified support, with maybe a wildcard that has some freedom - but not much support.

Evans is the clear leader for BMC, Froome for Sky, Contador for Saxo, etc.
.

Froome is the leader for Sky and Contador for Saxo (in that case - obviously because they have no alternatives). But in some of your other examples eg Evans for BMC, TJVG is 2nd leader not 1st domestique. Similarly at Lotto Greipel is leader for sprints but they also have JVDB as leader for gc. at Argos Kittel is leader for sprints where he makes it but degenkolb is leader for the sprints where he doesnt.

You mention support but the thing about support that people may have forgotten after 12 months of ad nauseum discussion about wiggins and froome (even though froome was obviously going to be leader) is that most teams dont spend 99% of the race setting tempo up front.

Most team leaders and secondary team leaders won't need that much support. I dont think Evans for example will neccesarily get a lot more support than TJ. Neither will be on water duties. Both will get helpers rushing back if they puncture. Both will spend almost the entire race riding behind other riders. Unless 1 becomes a major threat for gc of course.
 
Jan 23, 2013
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All are good points, almost.

I suppose it is imprtant to distinguish between named "team leaders" and "protected riders" as second options are commonly called.

Looking back through history, rarely has a team with a teamleader and protected rider reached the top of the podium.

Riis and Ullrich for Telekom comes to mind, as does Lemond and Hinault on La Vie Claire. Wiggins and Froome last year. That makes three times in the past 25 years or so. If anyone can add to the list, I'd be happy to have my memory refreshed.

During Indurain's 5 he was the clear leader for each. Lemond with Gan was another clear leader. Fignon with System U. Armstrong for each of his 7. Hinault for his the first 4 of his 5. Merckx for his 5. Pantani. Evans. Wiggins last year.

The formula for success is pretty well established. So much so that when a team has a duet of possible winners it becomes big news.

To stay true to the original question, each member of a team has a rather clear-cut set of responsibilities. Indeed, there are riders who are given more lattitude (i.e. wild-cards), such as TJVG this year and last year and Quintana this year. Other riders are tasked with pacing in the mountains for their leader or leading out their sprinter - exclusively. Lead out-trains for sprinters can be so well organized that the order of the riders in the train is nearly set in stone (i.e. pre-crash Tny Martin was to deliver Cav's train at the front to the 1k kite).

A group of riders racing for a singular cause are almost always going to out-perform individuals. That's the nature of the sport. The results speak for themselves.
 

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