So there is this blog that I read all the time. It is by a guy named Steve Tilford. I don't know how I found his blog but I read it just about every day and get pretty bummed when he doesn't write. I have never really met Steve either, I guess I am just a creepy internet stalker, fan, dork, or whatever. I have been to a few races that he has done and seen him race a few times. I have seen his dog Bromont a few times and am just as big a fan of him as I am of Steve's. I don't even know why I am a fan of Steve's really. I really like his writing I guess, and reading about the life that he lives. He travels around a lot and races. He visits a lot of great people and stays in some in some amazing locations. I also like to read about his views on the world of cycling. He has been around for a long time and I like to learn as much as I can about sports I am obsessed with. My only critique about Steve is he can read a little negative about his own racing, even when he wins. I don't know why he feels bad about how he does but I have noticed he seems to be trying to be a little more positive.
So Steve wrote these two (pt 1, 2) posts about domestiques, racing in the USA and in Europe. I didn't have a problem with what he said about the subject but there were some people that were not happy about it at all. There were some that even attacked Steve and his racing because of what he thought. His view on the subject is that too many people are giving up their chances at success to do thankless work for others. He worries that people that were attracted to the sport for it's independent attributes, are being asked to do something not suited to their talents. He is very harsh on large Pro Continental teams in the US that use very Euro styles of racing in the US to try and win races. I have never been in nor seen a race unfold like he talks about, but I think if they are happening like he says then yeah it would suck. Pretty much he says that these super teams ride so fast at the front that no one else in the peleton has a chance. There are too many of them and not enough of everyone else. Lowering the number allowed riders from each team would really help that problem. He also talks about the length of races in the states and how we have nothing over a week. This is true and thinking about that today, it will be very hard to grow a race to over a week and gain ground on the TdF, Giro de Italia, and Vuelta. Those races have been around so long. They could grew from nothing into something, where as a 3 week long race in the states would need so much more start up money. I think the Tour of California has a great chance, the Tour of Utah, and the old Coors Classic could also get there as well.
For those not in the know, a domestique in cycling are guys that do all the hard work for the leader of the team for the whole race. Then at the end of the race the team leader jumps out and wins. It is kind of like linemen in football. Those guys work so hard but no one ever knows who they are, their paychecks are chump change compared to running backs, and quarter backs. But without the linemen the QB would be fucked. Well same in cycling. The problem is that in the US a lot of these guys never learn how to race by doing these jobs. By the time the race really starts these dudes are so tired from riding as fast as they can for four hours, the race is now up the road and they are limping to the line.For guys in my level of racing you don't generally see racing like that. It is hard to do a lot of planning in races, especially with out being able to use a radio to talk to other teammates. That is something different about my team, we are a group of guys that want to put in some domestique work for each other. Not because that is our goal in life, but because we know that the work we put in for a teammate we will get in return.
The thing I don't get though is why these guys get so mad about what Steve has to say. He is right that the only way to learn how to win is to try and win. Young guns that are working their way over to Europe need the experience of trying to win races to learn how to win. Riding on the front of a pack all day long wont do that. But riding on the front can also be a great feeling for some people who share in the joy of a team win. I think there is the best of both worlds. I think you need to learn to ride hard, race harder, and compete smart. To be a great competitor in just about all sports you need a cocktail of talents, abilities, and experience. Without all that you just might not have what it takes.