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Tour de France: Ouch! I Sabotaged Myself!


I am an avid road cyclist. I love bicycling for a lot of reasons.  One of my close friends recently asked me if I want to sell my bicycle.  I said "Are you kidding?  I love my Bike.  If Mike is out of town, I sleep with my bike in the bed."

A 21-Day Race

So naturally, I really enjoy watching the Tour de France. Yesterday was the first day of the Tour de France, a 21-day stage race.  To win the race, a rider must be good in the mountains, and also have enough stamina to win in a time trial, racing as fast as he can through a pretty flat course.  There are also sprints in the race.  Yesterday, the finish was a sprint finish.   With sprint finishes, typically. if you are the prized sprinter on your team, your team will set you up in a perfect position to sprint at the end and take the stage win for the day.


This is exactly what Mark Cavendish's team, Omega Pharma QuickStep, did yesterday, as they had rehearsed and practiced so many, many times.  This was the plan. They, as a team, with about 9 kilometers left in the stage, began the positioning, taking the lead and setting the pace for the rest of the peloton (remainder of the riders). The idea is to do this, with the sprinter riding 4th or 5th back, conserving his energy by allowing him to ride in the slip stream of his other team riders, and then when the time is right, sprint ahead with all his power and speed, and win the stage.

Here's What Happened

So, what happened yesterday?  With 400 meters left to go to the finish, Cavendish made his move to go to the front and take the race.  In order to leap out in front, he accelerated. There was a rider to his left and a rider to his right.  To make more space for himself, or perhaps to get an edge over the rider to his left, Simon Gerrans, Cavendish leaned into Gerrans with his head and shoulder.  Was it too hard, was it too much, too aggressive, was Cavendish, in his quest to win the stage. taking too much risk?  Did he forget to be careful?


Well, what happened was the two riders went down, down very hard. Cavedish was in instant pain, apparently crashing hard on his right shoulder. In an instant, all the hard work he and his team had put in leading up to this race was wasted, hopes and dreams dashed by a stupid, stupid mistake, and carelessness. With his eye so keenly on the goal, he had forgotten the basics.

Is he out of the race completely?  The doctors and his team will determine that.  As of this writing, I do not know.


He Sabotaged Himself

On my bike this morning, I started thinking hard about this, and how Cavendish had sabotaged himself!  No one else did anything to take the win from him.  It was all him and his actions alone that took the stage win from him. So very sad, not only for him, but for his team as well, who he also let down. In a split second,  what could have been victory, turned to defeat and a preventable loss.  Not only did he lose the stage, but he might not be able to race for the rest of the season.  This is one of those moments where you cry, and then bang your head against the wall, chanting, "How can I be so stupid?"


I immediately thought about my business and my clients that I work with and how often it happens that you know the right things to do to get the job done, but in haste, or a bit of laziness, you overlook the basics or the one thing you know you should have done, but didn't, and therefore lost the business you should have easily won.


Lessons Learned

So what are my take-aways from this?


1.  Don't be hasty or lazy.  Everything counts!  


2.  Don't skip steps.  Do all the steps you planned and know are the necessary things to do to close your sale.


3.  Be diligent, be vigilent, and don't take unnecessary (and usually, in hindsight, stupid) risks.




I am certainly not a super athlete, but it certainly seems to me there are great lessons to be learned from sports that carry through in all areas of life. including business. So, go work on your skills, prep, and then follow-through with every step you have planned, pay attention to all the details and reap the rewards!

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