– With guest writer Rick Wetherald –
You couldn’t have designed a more exciting end to the 2011 TdF if you tried. Coming into the final time trial, Cadel Evans had a large – though still managable – 57 second deficit to yellow jersey wearer Andy Schleck. The situation dictated that both would start the race with the highest motivation and aspirations, and that the whole cycling world would all be glued to the TV waiting for time checks.
There were many doubters over the last three weeks when it came to both riders’ tactics. The arm chair critics were saying the Andy/Frank duo should have attacked more and harder. Cadel should have spent his energy attacking instead of pulling the favorites around the windy Pyrenees and Alps. As it turned out, though, the Schlecks simply couldn’t attack, because Evans’ calculated and controlled pace always kept the brothers from summoning enough energy to do so. Those same critics predicted that Cadel may have used too much energy chasing in the slopes of the Alps, but he showed Saturday that he knew all along what he was doing and exactly how much energy he was using. The Australian put forth an inspiring effort to not just take the yellow jersey, but leave the doubters eating their words, and besting both Schlecks by a staggering two and a half minutes.
What can you, average joe bike rider, learn from Cadel Evans’ performance during the hardest part of the toughest race in the world? For those who were paying attention to the details, Evans was putting on a clinic in managing resources. We’ve all done a long group ride or race where we went out too hard. It’s almost a requirement for new endurance racers to suffer the consequences of an over-ambitious start. Some athletes will grow out of this phase, and learn to preserve their efforts, and some will continue to go for the early glory at the expense of the result that matters. Next time you line up for a ride or race, decide what your ultimate goal is. Consider the near future and how today’s ride will help you during the coming weeks and months. Then decide where you want to be at the finish of this day. Work backwards from there and plan ahead on what you are going to do during every phase of the day’s effort. Though Cadel was behind on time in the mountains, he knew just how important the final TT was, and he metered his effort accordingly. Stick to the plan, and you’ll give yourself the best chance to reach your goal.
Here’s hoping we can all see our own personal version of the top podium step in Paris.
Rick Wetherald is a pro mountain biker, elite triathlete and road racer for Sun and Ski / Subaru racing, elite coach for Athletes on Track, coordinator for the TMBRA Kids Kup series of mountain bike races, and doctoral student at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. Rick has been racing for almost two decades, and has been coaching athletes of all levels for 7 years. Rick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .