Any British cycling fan has waited a lifetime for today when Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France with fellow Brit Chris Froome in second place and the pocket rocket, sprinter Mark Cavendish, picking up three stage wins en route, including a 4th win on the Champs Elysees to become the most successful sprinter of all time despite having to make his own opportunities as the rest of the team supported the yellow jersey.
And it wasn’t all to do with precocious talent; performance management was the key to Team Sky’s success.
- The team formed in 2010 announcing the audacious goal of winning the Tour with 5 years. They did it in 3!
- They had a single focus – winning the Tour with the best man for the task – and were able to ignore minor distractions and get every team member committed to that goal in spite of the fact that it wasn’t always in their best personal interest with sprinter Mark Cavendish happy to fall into the role of super domestique carrying food and feed bottles for fellow team members.
- Apparently they measured everything that could be measured in a relentless pursuit of incremental improvements in every area of performance – the aero-dynamics of bikes, the absorbtion of different fibres and the energy output of different foods.
- They assiduously corrected weaknesses with Wiggins reshaping his physique by losing 8kg in bodyweight and Cavendish working at his climbing ability both to enable him to support fellow team members and to get himself into more sprint finishes
- . . . and they got everyone to believe it could be done and constantly reminded them when they looked down to their crossbar.
Team Principal (note the title), David Brailsford, helped British riders win a clutch of medals at the Beijing Olympics and now, four years later, leads a team at the pinnacle of another discipline. For me, it’s a text-book case of what can be achieved when performance management is whole-heartedly embraced and relentlessly executed. It’s a shining example for all of us.
My prediction; Knighthoods all round before the end of the year.