Garmin-Barracuda sports director Charly Wegelius is blogging for Cycling Weekly during the 2012 Giro d’Italia
The Giro is now entering into the final week. After so many days of racing the key element is now the energy reserves each rider has left.
This situation can lead to surprising performances and can make it hard to predict how the race will go. It is not unusual to see climbers doing excellent time trials and vice versa. The whole set of the race is skewed by the fatigue the riders are feeling.
This is one of the golden rules of long stage racing: distribution of resources. A crisis in the last week of the Giro can seem a mystery at first glance, but you can often trace it back to bad use of energy during the previous days.
The fact that you can get away with riding up the side of the bunch in a cross wind, doesn’t mean that it is a good idea, or that it will not bring consequences.
Equally, off the bike anything that the riders can do to avoid spending energy is money in the bank for the last week.
The team management can make a contribution to keeping the riders fresh. It takes some inventive planning at times, but a well placed soigneur on top of a climb with hot tea and rain jackets can be crucial on an extreme day.
Many teams are now also investing in helicopters in an effort to get their riders to the hotel in double quick time. During the race the DS often has to balance a rider’s natural instinct to relax and switch off for a moment. Slipping into a poor position, even for a moment can cost time and energy for the whole team.
Having suffered in these races myself, I often have to fight against the desire to be too sympathetic with the riders. I know only too well that they want to relax for a moment and ride at the back, but now I have to be the voice keeping them focused and aware of dangers.
Striking the balance between sympathy and empathy is not always easy.