Is Chris Froome’s win at the 2013 Tour de France more significant to British Cycling than Wiggins’ win of 2012?
While nothing should be taken from Wiggo and Team Sky for what they did in 2012, undoubtedly a monumental moment in our sporting history: the first ever British winner in the world’s greatest bike race and the biggest annual sporting event by global viewing figures , it could be argued that Chris Froome winning the 2013 TdF has a bigger impact on British cycling than Bradley Wiggins winning in 2012.
At first Team Sky, under the clear direction and leadership of Dave Brailsford, delivered what seemed like a farfetched promise: “to have a British rider win the TdF by 2014”. In fact they hit this target 3 years early!
Brailsford has been criticized at length for “racing by numbers”, that his riders spend their time with eyes glued to their cycle computers. Brailsford’s mantra of Marginal Gains has come under more than its fair share of attack. “Cycling is swapping sciences from chemistry to physics and Sky are the class nerds that got in there and made it work” ran a comment column in Cycling Weekly earlier this year.
Not only did the Team Sky methodology work in 2012, but it also delivered a second rider to the top of the sport in 2013, thus proving that the science works. Wiggins will always be the rightful superstar for putting himself at the mercy of the regime and for trusting it with his career.
What can a modern leader learn from all of this? The answer is to look at the detail, take measurement, and make your decisions based on what proves itself to work. Be prepared to put flexibility into your plan to fit an individual, but firm up this flex as the results come in. Be prepared for criticism, especially that your victories aren’t pretty – and prepare yourself to defend this with “do you want me to win or to be pretty?”.