On Day 17 of the Tour de France (Le Tour), so close to the end of the race, a rider waits at the foot of the Col de la Madeleine to help his leader up the dramatic assent.
Jens Debusschere, former Belgian National champion, is riding for the first time with B&B Hotels — Vital Concept, a second division team with a whole load of spirit.
Newbies to the event may not realise just how much of a team sport Le Tour is. Because one rider crosses the finish line first, one person gets up on the podium at the end of each day for each category, one face, one first place.
We also live in a world that loves the name or face of a single hero to clutch onto; it’s sometimes hard to remember the rest. Though every entrant shares the same superhuman effort to qualify, train and attend the race.
This is not unique to professional cycling. In the world of business, we anchor our faith onto a name or two, forgetting that the true momentum for bringing an idea to life resides in a team effort.
We remember the scientist who wins the Nobel; the name of the director of a play or film; and in life, we hold up the individuals who seem to have achieved success and forget to look at the effort behind them.
But in the words of Team B&B Hotels — Vital Concept —
2020, a strange year for many, not least of all the Tour de France, where the battle was not only for the riders on the gruelling 21-day event. It was also for the organisers faced with the pandemic-led dichotomy of health versus business as usual.
For the pro cycling industry, the beginning of the year carried on amidst uncertainty. However, on the 15th of April, the governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), announced a suspension of world biking events until at least the 1st of August, cancelling and postponing many races.
The challenges to the organisers were enormous, as high as the Col de la Madeleine where Debusschere waits.
Who could forget the devastating images of Italy ravaged by the virus earlier the same year?