Stage 21: Wrap-Up

In case you were wondering about the champagne and stuffed animals, the final stage into Paris is historically more of a celebratory parade than a bike race. The parade into town, in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, is reminiscent of the home-comings of victorious armies in bygone days.

The finish was also a bit of a formality, with HTC once again proving they have the best lead-out train in the world, and ‘Cav demonstrating that he is the best of the fast men.

This year’s Tour was filled with the dramatic, and the traumatic. I’ve compiled a list of a few key take-aways from le Tour; things to keep in mind to help with your own training and racing.

  • Life happens. In the Tour, it’s crashes and illness. Often it’s the same for us, but sometimes it’s a sick kid, a pressing work project, or even a spat with your spouse that derails your plans. The riders who crashed out of this year’s Tour aren’t bewailing their fate, they are planning their next race and using this as motivation – a good lesson for all of us.
  • Nothing is ever certain. This is why we race, to find out how things actually unfold. Voeckler should never have had the yellow, nor kept it for 10 days, much less finished 4th. His teammate, Pierre Rolland, was never a candidate for the Top 10 or the White Jersey. Contador was supposed to win, and Cavendish wasn’t supposed to make it over the mountains. Don’t be afraid to try, as history is filled with examples of people doing the impossible.
  • Never give up. It’s taken Cadel Evans years to achieve the top step in Paris, years when the critics said it could never happen. As Churchill said, never, never, never give in. There’s a reason these stories inspire you, because we were made to overcome. Keep plugging; good things will happen.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Tour as much as I have. I hope this brief commentary has provided a bit of perspective and insight. Mostly though, I hope you were inspired by the beauty and struggle of the sport. Sport is a microcosm for life, and it’s lessons are more far-reaching than the obvious. Here’s wishing you the best in sport, and in life.

Steen A. Rose is an elite cycling and triathlon coach. He started coaching in 2003, and has been an Elite Coach with Training Bible Coaching since 2009. Steen is also captain of the Sun & Ski/Subaru Cycling and Triathlon teams. He has been racing since 1997, holds a Category 1 license, and has 13 state championships, 3 national medals, and 4 international podiums to his credit. He can be reached at srose@trainingbible.com

Stage 14 – Pressure & Expectations

Stage 14

Pressure & Expectations

There has been a tremendous amount of research in the world of sports into the “why” of performances. Why do athletes win? Why do they lose? Why do they “choke?”

One of the more interesting questions to ponder, and to research, is why certain athletes perform way beyond expectations, and why some always fail to meet expectations.

Let’s take a look at two riders who factored in the finish of today’s stage: Thomas Voeckler, and Tom Danielson. Danielson, who rides for Garmin, was heir-apparent to Lance Armstrong as America’s next great rider, and signed with the Discovery Channel Team in 2005. Now, 6 years later, he is riding in his first ever Tour de France! Danielson never performed up to expectations.

Voeckler was a relatively unknown figure in 2004. He won the French National Championships in June, which may have given him a boost of confidence going into the Tour that year. He gained enough time in a break on stage 5 to take the yellow jersey. Critics thought he might hold onto it for a day or two, but against all odds he hung on for 10 days! In the 2004 Tour, and ever since, Voeckler has always exceeded expectations, and he’s doing it again this year.

Without knowing either rider, I still have a pretty good idea as to why that is, based on my experiences as an athlete and a coach, and from the research literature. Danielson has always had tremendous pressure to meet high expectations. Voeckler, meanwhile, has been free of those pressures, and consequently free to perform.

How can you apply this to your riding? Free yourself of expectations! Putting stress on yourself to meet a certain goal will have you riding physically and mentally tight. Relax! We do this for fun and for fitness, but the same principles apply to you and the pros – so be like Voeckler, free to ride great and have fun, AND, free to have a bad day without consequence.

Steen A. Rose is an elite cycling and triathlon coach. He started coaching in 2003, and has been an Elite Coach with Training Bible Coaching since 2009. Steen is also captain of the Sun & Ski/Subaru Cycling and Triathlon teams. He has been racing since 1997, holds a Category 1 license, and has 13 state championships, 3 national medals, and 4 international podiums to his credit. He can be reached at srose@trainingbible.com