As today’s final stage of the 2017 Vuelta blasted up the finishing straight I was reminded of a conversation that I had one day with Martin O’Loughlin.
Froome had just won the overall race title, following on from another Tour de France victory. Everyone expected him to roll across the line with his hands in the air enjoying the moment.
What he actually did was quite different.
Matteo Trentin won the stage, and even though he was battling with Froome for the overall points competition everyone watching expected that to be enough to guarantee him the points victory.
Froome, however had other ideas. If Trentin won, he had to finish in the top 14 on the stage, right up there in the midst of the fast man sprinters. Froome finished 11th and thereby won the points along with the overall.
This in itself shows why he is a multiple Tour de France winner, and is a very valuable lesson for anyone who races a bike.
Racing is all about competing, not just about drifting across the line. That’s what sportive riding is for.
Martin (a former national champion and current national development team director) told me that if he went to a league race the first thing he would check was if there was prize money available and if he could at least cover his cost of entry. That might mean sprinting for 10th place but if there was something worth racing for, he was there to race. That is the mentality that it takes to become a National or International Champion.
If you are going to race, then race. If you are going to ride a sportive, ride a sportive.
But don’t get them confused by riding around and drifting across the line in a race if you are capable of more, and just as importantly don’t try to kill everyone else and sprint for 110th place in a sportive.