July 3, 2010

Team Sky Living The Dream

The team of eight riders singled into a line in front of me as we entered the cobbles. As the surface changed from smooth tarmac to uneven stone with patches of grass growing in the gaps, our bikes shuddered and our bodies shook.

In that moment we lifted our speed like a driver might suddenly accelerate on a sinuous mountain road as he feels the thrill and anticipation of a challenge. In racing and training, we are constantly pushing ourselves both mentally and physically to not only improve and win, but also because we are thrilled by the challenge and love to ride.

Prior to the Tour de France, the nine riders who would be competing in the race pre-rode the cobbled sectors we will race over on the third stage. Rural cobblestone roads punish a cyclist leaving him with blistered hands and sore muscles. Despite the discomfort, the team was inspired as we bounced over the stones. Like the mountains we will climb, the ancient roads are monuments in the sport of cycling. The great champions who have ridden, suffered and won on the roads have created the history, which inspires nearly every cyclist whether professional or a tourist.

Cycling’s rich history

Cycling is not only about the victory but also about the journey. The more challenging the journey is, the more fulfilling the achievement. With an understanding of the sport’s rich history that sense of achievement becomes more profound. After riding, the second sector of cobblestones, Bradley Wiggins, our team leader, looked over to me as we rode along and said: “I forgot how much I love riding the cobbles. It is a fantastic feeling.”

Bradley hadn’t ridden the cobblestones since the spring of 2009 when he rode the one-day Classic Paris Roubaix. We chatted for a few minutes about what the cobbles mean to cycling and how few Tour de France contenders now ride the early season Classics for fear of crashing. Decades ago, the sport’s icons rode all the major Classics and won. It was evident he wanted to be among them.

Brad has an encyclopedic memory for cycling history. Like me, he has absorbed everything relating to cycling he could since he was a young boy. Not only is he a Tour de France star but he is also a fervent fan. Amongst a generation of young riders who disregard the history of the sport his passion is unique. He understands that we are all a part of something greater.

Flecha leads the way

Over the cobbles Juan Antonio Flecha led the team, with Bradley tucked tight in his draft. Flecha is a Classics star. Yet his story is exceptional as he is one of the few Spaniards to ever shine on the cobblestones. His childhood dream was to race among the protagonists in the Classics and despite coming from a nation, which produces climbers who perform in the heat, he persisted with his goal and is now one of the top Classics riders. Despite spending his adolescence south of Barcelona, he floats on the Belgian and French cobblestones and attacks when a cold wind blows off the North Sea. Like Brad he knows that in every major pro race, he is part of something richer and greater than just a sporting event.

Our team is full of individuals who have that same passion. Dave Brailsford, our manager, raced in France as an amateur as did our coach Rod Ellingworth. Each of our directeur sportifs has raced professionally. The team has combined that passion for the sport with Formula One technology and resources to build an environment, which is not only nurturing and understanding, but and also well organized and structured.

As we begin the Tour de France there is an electric ambiance within the team. We are prepared, committed to our goals and relaxed but we are also excited as we appreciate and understand what the Tour means. Cycling is our profession but we are also living a dream.

12 Responses to “Team Sky Living The Dream”

  • Posted by Martin Gustafsson | July 3, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Good luck to you and your teammates in the Tour!

  • Posted by Wade | July 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you for the blog. Good luck to you and your team. Cheering from Vancouver, British Columbia.

  • Posted by Frank Streicher | July 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    It’s brilliant to have another Canadian rider in the field, especially one who knows how to wield a pen. Good luck . Now, to make it easier for us to spot you , would it be possible to wear bright red moose antlers over your helmet? A stuffed beaver would also do the trick as long as it is painted neon green. Mind you, joining a couple of breakaways might just be more practicable.

  • Posted by Meryl McGrath | July 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Great to have another Canadian in the tour…especially you…we have followed your career for years!
    Pedal hard and good luck!

    From Darryl’s mom in Janetville, Ontario

  • Posted by marilyn freeman | July 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I watched today’s stage (July 6), shook along with you over the cobbles, and was absolutely thrilled every time the announcers said your name. And to think I’ve known you since you were born! Good luck Michael – no crashes.

    marilyn, your lifelong fan

  • Posted by paul hewitt | July 7, 2010 at 12:17 am

    I have watched your career from the early days of the springbank roadraces.
    Very happy to see you at the tour!
    You have filled a dream you has a child, and made us all proud!!!
    All the best Michael!
    paul

  • Posted by alex quesada | July 7, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Well that convincingly settles that argument: regarding pros and cons of including pave’ in a grand tour.
    An appreciation of historical context helps to illuminate the road ahead.
    Onward and upwards!

  • Posted by Jono | July 8, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Great to see Geraint doing so well and Team Sky looking solid. I was genuinely excited to see how the pave was handled by the peloton, as a TV spectator it was a great stage which I wish I could have ssen in person. I’m looking forward to the next blog post. Thanks.

  • Posted by Phil Piltch | July 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    It’s geat to see you in the Tour. I’ve known your dad for a number of years and am the proud owner of one of his beautiful rolling works of art.

    Bonne route!

  • Posted by Ruthann | July 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Am loving every minute of the Tour this year, and am so glad you are there. I saw a great, short, 5-min video recap of Stage 3 at

    http://therobbyy.com/tour10stage3.html

    and you are in it quite a bit, so I thought you’d get a kick out of it. The folks at the PodiumCafe.com are enjoying your racing very much. I’m very proud of you myself; when I saw you leading out the peloton over that bridge before the first big cobble section, my entire family was cheering you on! Stay safe and enjoy yourself.

  • Posted by Rick Millenaar | July 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Nice video Ruthann. Nice to to see Ryder have a good day too. Keep it up Michael ! I saw you riding after Lance yesterday, and right away I had a blinding vision of you still doing great things in this Tour.

  • Posted by Laetitia Beatty | July 16, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I have just stumbled across your site, having had no experience of cycling and suddenly finding myself training 60-75 miles a day to achieve a London to Paris ride for charity.

    I have watched the video’s and read your blogs and I am totally inspired to get out on my bike tomorrow at the unruly hour of 7am and feel the wind in my face and the road beneath these very thin tyres. I have gone from a measly 5 miles an hour to 15 miles an hour in just over 8 weeks and looking to improve on this in the next few months, going beyond the charity ride in August to something bigger, better and much more exhilarating and challenging…you have touched me in a very special way as I am sure you have enlightened and touched others…well done for all that you are

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