I think everyone can agree that the 2011 Tour de France was the best & most exciting Tour in years. Granted, in Canada, it was broadcast on a Tier 2 sports channel (TSN2 vs TSN) but it was in HD so the images were brilliant.
I’ve heard rumblings about Cadel being too passive and amazement over Andy Schleck’s gutsie ride…but this just means that people care…and they were watching and getting informed.
Cadel’s BMC team came into the Tour with a plan, and in reality, made it work just like they needed to, to win. Their preparation before the race was perfect. Riding the Dauphine (instead of Tour de Suisse) was the right thing to do as the TT in the Dauphine was on the same course as the final TT of the Tour. As any of the guys will tell you, riding a course at race pace is the only way to really understand where you can gain time. There was no thought of sprint stage wins, just a clear focus on getting Cadel into yellow in Paris.
BMC brought some real ‘horses’ (Hincapie, Burghardt, Morabito to name a few) to the Tour so they could protect Cadel at the front of the race during the first, frantic week. All of the players were hand picked to provide support for Cadel at certain points of the 3 week race. Everyone knew that these routes would be narrow, windy and wet (it always rains in Brittany). I got tired of hearing guys complain about it…that’s racing.
Being 1 second out of the lead was perfect for BMC in the early weeks. Voeckler’s team, Europcar did most of the pacing and BMC was happy to let them ride.
Into the Pyrenees, all Cadel needed to do was to stay close to the GC rivals; mainly the Schlekies & Contador. All he needed to do was to go into the final TT and be within 2 minutes of these guys and he knew that he would be able to destroy them in the TT.
Watching Cadel descend down technical descents was magical as Contador flailed behind him with no technical skills what so ever. Hearing the Schleckies complain about dangerous descents made me tweet irresponsibly…how bad does it get when full on pros are whining about the race courses. ‘Get over it’ is all I can say.
In the Alps, BMC didn’t panic even when Cadel had a mechanical (what happened to his bike, anyway, does anyone know?). BMC re-grouped and chased back as close as they could before Cadel took the reins to bring back Andy…that was the day he won the Tour.
Why do we care? It’s really a great lesson in preparation and planning of strategy. Being flexible in times of stress and sticking to the plan when situations may have dictated otherwise. Every business could learn something from these incredible 3 weeks in July, 2011. Cadel in yellow on the podium in Paris was really a culmination of 2 years of planning by Jim Ochowicz and his management team. Congrats boys, chapeau.