Monday, July 21, 2008

Curious how teammates can help in the Tour?

If you're still learning the strategies of the Tour de France, you may be a bit confused as to why someone high up in the General Classification (GC), that is, someone who is a strong hopeful for a podium finish at the Tour or is shooting for the yellow jersey, may or may not have his teammates around him.  Some riders have a whole host of teammates to protect him, some seem like they're riding alone most of the time. If you remember the "Postal Train" or "Le Train Bleu" as the French called US Postal, and also the Discovery Train, they were the most skilled at creating a train of teammates to help Lance up the climbs. They would take turns at the front (Lance just tucked himself in behind his men) and one by one, when they dropped off from fatigue, he would still end up with at least one faithful teammate as they approached the finale of the climb! The above photo is in the PyrenĂ©es in 2005, with the discovery Train leading the way up the first of 3 major climbs!

It comes down to the calibre of the team, and how fatigued they are at this point. They may not be able to set pace, or ride up at the front. Or maybe they're skilled at sprinting, but that keeps them at the tail end of the peleton on the mountains, unable to help out their team leader.

Here is a great explanation of how poor Cadel Evans seems to be riding alone, without teammates, and also the reasons he lost his yellow jersey on Stage 15. He is only 9 seconds back and is a strong climber, so he can still regain it in the next few climbing stages, or in the final time trial. But having some teammates around him would sure help!

In your Spin classes, make mention about having teammates around to help set the pace or to protect you from the headwinds!

1 comment:

Groover said...

Nice summary! It was heart breaking to see Cadel being attacked by Sastre, the Schleck's, Eisel etc. But maybe it was for the better and it will take some pressure off his team. Great win for another talented Aussie Simon Gerrans though! Go Cadel! Can't wait to watch tonight's stage.

Great blog! Will be back to read more!