On The Road at the Giro d’Italia: Team Sky take obsession with the weather to a new level
Martin Ayres has worked at Jaguar for over twelve years, and once again joins Team Sky as their performance engineer during the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta á Éspaña in 2013. Having not ridden a bike for over 20 years, Martin is a recent convert to the sport after his experiences with the Team in 2012 – including during their historic winning campaign for the Tour de France…
The sun has finally appeared! We’re currently en route up the coast of Puglia (the ‘heel’ of the Italian boot) and it’s 26 degrees with clear azure skies. We’ve hugged the coastline for almost the entire Giro so far, and there is a sea breeze so refreshing today that you can genuinely taste it. The shimmering Adriatic has been on our horizons for the past few hours and speaking as a loyal citizen of the Midlands, I can confirm we’re missing out. It’s just stunning. I’ll forget it’s there for an hour and then get a pleasant shock as we round a corner onto yet another impossibly beautiful sea vista. Just a shame there has been no time for a swim!
Not that it has been all blue skies and sunshine. The British are known for their unhealthy obsession with weather, but Team Sky (with good reason) take this to the next level. Normal people would check the papers or the news – we look at satellite forecasts and local weather pattern movements. I think the performance team has all got safe careers in meteorology if they were to retire from pro cycling (which is doubtful, by the way). I also swear I heard someone say ‘cumulus!’ (a type of cloud) in a far too excitable manner the other day. This is of course all to do with the fact that whatever the weather, the riders will have to spend five or six hours in the saddle racing in it. Trust me, rain and wind looks a lot more dangerous when you’re going to be racing at speeds of up to 70kph in it.
In fact, the weather over the past few days has been far from ideal. The riders turned up yesterday at the team bus looking like they’d just undergone a severe hosing down. I’m usually amazed by how well they look and cheerful they are after such long distances, but they really wore the day on their expressions yesterday. Also, the smell of the wet clothing is, ahem, not pleasing. Danny Pate, one of our US riders, asked with far too much glee if there was a smell of wet feet in the bus the other day. I think they’ve hidden some old wet shoes in the bus somewhere to drive Claudio (who keeps the bus in strict military cleanliness) utterly crazy. The rider who gets found out is a marked man! Anyway, it was with a collective twinkle in the eye that Bradley and the band made their way outside this morning, wishing everyone good morning rather more cheerily than the past few days. A big relief to all involved.
The Italian proverb “Chi non ha danari in borsa, abbia miel in bocca” literally translated means “you will catch more flies with a drop of honey than a barrel of vinegar”, i.e. use your resources wisely for the best result. In the case of bike racers, that resource is energy. I think that’s a fairly accurate estimate of the way the team is racing at the moment. They’ll be putting in maximum effort where they know they can gain time advantages for Bradley (such as the TTT on Sunday), but on ‘non-GC’ days like today, they need to conserve their efforts and protect Bradley in preparation for the tough challenges in the mountains. As Dave B has reminded everyone – this really is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s the same for us in the support team too – we’ve got to remember this a three weeks long effort.
With that in mind, I need to check everything is in place for the rider’s and car’s return this evening. Also a note to my twitter followers – thanks for all the nice messages, I will try and reply to as many of you as I can!
Follow Martin on Twitter : @teamsky_jaguarTagged in: giro d'italia
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