Charly Wegelius Giro blog: Holding on to the lead

Garmin-Barracuda sports director Charly Wegelius is blogging for Cycling Weekly about the 2012 Giro d’Italia

As I am sure you can guess, the Giro d’Italia is going rather nicely for Garmin-Barracuda so far. Unfortunately my colleagues at the Giro cannot just bask in the glory.

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Holding a leader’s jersey in any stage race, let alone one as long as the Giro, is no easy task for a Sports Director.

Often you will turn on the live TV to find a hopeless break dangling in front of a compact bunch, lead by riders seemingly more intent on eating their sarnies than giving full gas. Seems easy, but it it is anything but, for both riders and management.

Per se, controlling a race, on the right terrain, isn’t too hard. Put eight riders on the front and ask them to ride a team time trial, and not many riders would even dare attack, let alone have a chance of making it to the line. Reality is a little more complex.

Essentially you want to defend your lead whilst also using the least amount of rider energy possible, and equally by giving your rivals as little benefit as possible from your work.

I could rattle on about the ins and outs of it, but the short story is that before you switch the box on and that break has reached the lead it has, all kinds of calculations and decisions have been made in the cars behind, from all teams.

How far you can let a break safely go without threatening your objectives is dependent on all kinds of factors? How many riders can you put to work? Which other teams might help later? What are your goals down the road? Are you working for a non-climber or sprinter, so should we wait till that nasty mid-stage hill has passed? All these things have to be taken into account…

…And watch out for that fallen rider in the road… and the one who just came into your rear view mirror…

Did I also mention that you have to make these decisions while negotiating yourself amongst 44 of the world’s most aggressive drivers?

Like Allan Peiper told me on the first day of the job: “Mate, in this job you can be a hero one day and an imbecile the next. Without even doing anything wrong”

Related links

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