Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Getting the team time trial right

Garmin-Barracuda sports director Charly Wegelius is blogging for Cycling Weekly from the Giro. Or at least he will be when he gets there…

I should be writing this from Italy, but force majeur has kept me at home in Finland until an emergency has passed. I wonder how my team, Garmin-Barracuda is managing without my vast knowledge and skill? Wasn’t I irreplaceable? Although grateful that I can take care of things here, I miss the Giro.

Yesterday’s team time trial is one of the days that I am most sad to have missed. A Sports Director concerns himself on a daily basis with the collective strength of the team, attempting to get the maximum from each athlete. And that is exactly what a successful TTT boils down to: allowing each rider to make his best contribution possible, however big or small that may be.

Arriving at such a fluid state of harmony between the riders takes more than a little tinkering from the staff. At Garmin-Barracuda, where the TTT is less a passion and more of an addiction, this process starts many weeks before the event. Our resident rocket scientist (that’s not a joke) Robby Ketchell works tirelessly to deliver the latest technology and course data.

There is a constant discussion amongst Sports Directors and team manager JV on the order that the riders ride in. We want to give the weakest riders the most sheltered ride so they have a chance to contribute as much as possible. This means analysing each rider’s strengths and riding style to find the best fit. This isn’t always easy. Before Tirreno-Adriatico I had laminated name tags of our riders on my desk. Every day I would walk by and reshuffle the order that only the day before had seemed perfect. This went on for weeks.

Every member of the team, from mechanics to masseurs and chefs, pull out a little something extra for the TTT. A massed start race can be won with a touch of individual brilliance from one person – but not a TTT. Everyone has to give his best, and when it comes right it is beautiful to watch and thrilling to be part of.

Yesterday’s win was a brilliant collective performance for the team. Despite knowing that he could have ended up in pink, it’s worth noting that Ramanus put in so much work for the win that he had risked getting dropped. That’s teamwork for you.