Today Thor Hushovd hesitated, and it cost him dearly. Although he retained the yellow jersey, he lost a shot at the stage victory and precious points towards the Sprint competition.
Of course Thor is not the only rider who hesitated as the race rounded the final left hand bend, but as one of the biggest guys in the race, wearing bright yellow, and a favorite for a sprint victory, he was easy to spot!
In a normal sprint, there is a lead-out train the delivers the sprinters to about ~200m to go at absolute top speed, at or near 40mph. Today the finish was tactical because of the climb. Contador and Gilbert both tried to attack, but the bunch was obviously expecting this, and they came up short. As the climb flattened out towards the top and the field came around the final bend, the gap to the very front riders closed. Instead of accelerating around these riders, Thor and several others sat up ever so briefly. Cycling is a game of momentum, and they lost theirs. It’s easy to see Thor slow, then never quite get back up to speed.
Opening the sprint at that moment would not have been ideal – it was probably still a skosh too far out. However, you have to play the cards you are dealt, and it even if it didn’t net him the win, it would have resulted in a better placing and more points towards the Green jersey.
So today’s take-away is to seize the moment. It may not be perfect, or even what you were expecting, but when the time comes, don’t hesitate (funny how sport is a microcosm for life like that).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org