Yesterday I stopped in to check on my friends over at Sunshine Cycle Shop. My teammate Billy White was also there. Somehow the conversation turned to racing… imagine that.
One person (who will remain nameless to save him embarrassment) said, “I’m tired of seeing Mark Cavendish win.” We all looked at him in silence. “He just sits on his teammates’ wheels and then comes around to win at the end.”
This lead to a discussion about other sprinters. We kept pestering him to tell us of another sprinter on a major team who works on the front. The conversation got me to thinking more about the team aspect of racing and sent me to YouTube to find the finish of Stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse.
My conclusion? Team Columbia-Highroad is a well conjugated sentence concluding with Mark Cavendish as the exclamation point. Cav works. He does exactly what the team hired him to do. So do all the other riders in yellow. The reason the Boy Racer wins so much is because they all do their jobs better than anyone else.
This video is a thing of beauty and it isn’t even the best example of Columbia’s lead out. Regardless, the sentence that is the Columbia composition is not prose. It is poetry.
I love watching Cavendish after a sprint finish. He knows that cycling is a team sport. As soon as he gets slowed, you see him do a U-turn. He isn’t looking for the podium girls. His eyes are only for the guys that brought him to the line. I’m reminded of the quarterback or running back in a football game to seeks out the unheralded lineman who made the play possible.
Did you see him hiding behind Hincapie in the video? Suddenly he squirts from behind that big hole in the wind and seems to reach the line before the turbulence can close down around him again. No doubt Hincapie is happy with his current 4th place in GC, but you can bet he is proud of the work done by the TEAM to win the stage.
That is one of the reasons that Columbia-Highroad is winning me as a fan. From the riders and the chemistry between them all the way to Stapleton and his approach to marketing and race management; I’m very impressed with the team. There really isn’t anything to dislike – unless you think people can win too much.