This week I have been following the Tour de France because our family friend, Edward “Ted” King, is riding for the second year for Team Cannondale. Ted is our son’s age, I coached him in youth soccer and his mom and dad are friends of ours. And Ted is on the team because he plays his team role very well. More about that in a minute.
Like many of you, I like to ride my bike for exercise, but for relatively short distances – 11 to 20 miles. On a good day I average 16 miles per hour up and down small hills. Amazingly, it is not uncommon for professional riders in the Tour de France to average 24-25 miles an hour for five hours up and down much larger hills.
Monday, for instance, was the 10th stage or day of racing (there are 21 stages altogether finishing in Paris.) On that day they were riding in the French Alps near Mulhouse, France where they start at an elevation of 600-700 feet and go up and down seven mountains with the highest reaching about 4,000 feet.
Pro Cycling is a Team Sport. Ted is a member of the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team. While there are 28 riders on the team, only nine (now eight) race in the Tour de France. Their captain or best rider is Peter Sagan, who has won the green jersey two years in a row and is leading again this year. The green jersey is awarded to the rider with the most points gained for daily stage placement and sprint races. The yellow jersey goes to the overall time leader.
The goal of the team is to help the captain or best rider win. Each rider has a role. Some are sprinters that help pace and draft the leader. Some are good climbers in the mountains and help the leader by pacing him. Some riders hand food and other things to the leader.
Ted’s Role on the Team. Ted is neither going to win the Tour de France nor is expected to. His role, however, is to help Peter Sagan win or score points. He will be a pacesetter for long stretches and sometimes be featured in breakaways. During certain timed stretches where Sagan has a chance to earn points, Ted will be the one pushing him.
Last year Ted had a bad accident in the Tour de France that eventually caused him to leave after just a few stages. However, this year he is strong and still in the race helping Peter Sagan win points.
So when I think about Ted’s hours of personal conditioning and work mostly for the benefit of Sagan, I see a great example of how to be a selfless teammate!