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Overall leaders should let others win Stages - Cycling

 

If two riders contest the stage win ahead of the bunch, and one of them is going to pull on yellow, he lets the other man take the stage, on the grounds that both of them are guaranteed something.  -- William Fotheringham

Armstrong-Chavanel, 2003

On Monday, after Armstrong had restarted the attack after his fall, he caught the Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel.Chavanel had led the stage through most of the first five, hard climbs. On his way past Chavanel, Armstrong reached out and patted Chavanel on the back.

 

It was a gesture of congratulations and apology by Armstrong.
 
"If Lance hadn't needed the 20-seconds bonus for winning the stage," Andreu said, "absolutely Lance would have letChavanel win the stage. That's what you do. You help people. Because someday you'll want someone to help you."
...
Miguel Indurain, the only man to have won five consecutive Tour de France races, held up the peloton at the 1995 world championships to give Abraham Olano the chance to win the road race title, because Indurain thought Olano had earned that title over a well-conducted career.
 
"I think," Madden said, "this comes from the fact of how much these men suffer together. Because of the suffering, they realize that glory comes from beating someone fair and square."
 
 -- LA Times
 

Contador-Vinokourov, 2010

In the end, Contador’s team did not win the stage and he robbed a teammate of an opportunity that comes along rarely.  Biking is a team sport and Contador may need Vinokourov before this tour ends.  Vinokourov looked disgusted as he rolled across the finish line.  If Contador had been going for a time bonus, it may have been understandable.  We have already seen how the Saxo Bank riders have pushed themselves to the limit, sacrificed personal glory and worked together to support Andy Schleck.  A prior post described some of the Saxo Bank team tactics on stage 2.  Contador may have gained 10 seconds today, but he may have lost Vinokourov.  It may not be obvious, but if the situation arises where Contador needs a teammate to push himself beyond the limit, Vinokourov may not be there.  I’m sure that he will work hard, but will he push himself to the limit, sacrificing his tour position if necessary?   Schleck has bothCancellara and Voigt, extremely strong cyclists who will sacrifice for him.  Leipheimer has Kloden and Armstrong who will do the same for him.   Contador may find himself alone.

 

UPDATE: Vinokourov made a solo breakaway and won stage 13.  He and Contador celebrated together at the finish line.  Vino has satisfied his personal goals for this tour, so now he is more likely to support Contador.   On stage 14, Vino had an important role leading team Astana and Contador up some major climbs, but he ran out of power and dropped back.  Maybe his efforts on the prior two stages used up too much of his energy. bicyclespokesman.com
 

Contador-Schleck, 2010

Schleck was clearly riding as fast as he could go, about 99% of maximum all the way.  Contador was riding just hard enough to stay on his wheel, benefiting from his slipstream, “marking” him.  Schleck’s pace was very high.  Could he have been riding so hard that Contador could not attack?  Perhaps.  But with about two km to go Contador rode easily up beside Schleck as if to say “I could attack and win the stage, but I don’t have to.  All I have to do to stay ahead in the race is stay on your tail.”  
 
After his one symbolic foray, Contador dropped back and resumed his wheel-sucking role, confident that he was the better time trialist and would cement the victory today in the ITT from Bordeaux to Paulliac.  He did not try to come around Schleck at the end and take the stage, and thereby he avoided compounding the questionable sportsmanship of attacking during Schleck’s mechanical.  It’s also an unwritten rule that you don’t deny somebody the fruits of their labors when they’ve done all the work on the stage, even if you technically can.  As somebody said a day or two ago, the trouble with unwritten rules is that they’re, well, unwritten. -- Arnold Bradford

On Tuesday of this week, with Schleck 31 seconds ahead and charging, his bike chain popped off. Three or four leading riders, including Contador, took advantage and raced by. That was the day Contador claimed the overall lead by 8 seconds. Opinion was sharply divided in the race world about whether he had, in desperation, violated the unspoken rules and been unsportsmanlike.
 
Today Schleck and Contador went at each other all the way up the mountain, head to head, leaving all the other riders several minutes behind. If there is no gap between the riders they both get the same time coming across the line, even though the first to cross gets the win.
 
Schleck was unable to pull ahead and regain the lost 8 seconds, which means that Contador – the much better time-trial rider – is the overwhelming favorite to win the Tour on Sunday. Both wanted to win today’s stage. At the very end,Contador held back and let Schleck’s wheel cross the line first.
 
Unwritten rules are powerful. People who get them most of the time are said to have high emotional intelligence. People with low emotional intelligence who hardly ever register what is unspoken are at a significant disadvantage. People who flout the rules and get joy out of hurting others are called sociopaths. People who shape the unwritten rules and convince others to follow are called leaders.
 
Contador, with the overall win likely, was willing to trade a possible stage win for getting back in the good graces of his fellow riders. Both riders over the line embraced and patted each other on the back, and the race world ended the day content.  -- Pam Klainer