The Reuters global sports blog
Serving the kangaroo, by Manuel Quinziato
Cycling has changed a lot in the last 15 years. Once the team had just 12 riders and there was just one captain for the whole season. At almost every race all the team worked for the same guy, because the same guy could win every kind of race, from Paris Roubaix to the Tour de France. Think about Merckx, Moser, Hinault and Co.
Now the sport has changed radically — between 25 and 30 riders per team, super light bikes, while wheels and training methods have improved a lot. The average level of every rider has increased. And top riders have started to have fewer targets during the season.
Nowadays, there are riders for the Spring classics and riders for the grand tours.
What happens in modern cycling is that a rider can be the captain of the team in April and a “gregario” (domestique) during the Tour.
This year, the BMC team at the Spring classics was so strong that I can’t honestly say that I was the leader. But for sure I was one of the guys who could get a result.
Here in the Tour de France the roles are different and even clearer. The whole team rides for Cadel Evans! We have known it since December and we came here with this only goal in mind.
The team on a grand tour is fundamental. Even more so in the first week of the Tour de France. Every leader needs a strong and expert team to help him avoid plenty of dangerous situations. Wind, rain, narrow roads and crashes can cause a leader to lose more time than in a mountain stage.
The first duty of the “Spring classics” riders is to make sure their leader is in the right place. We are good on the flat and we know exactly when the wind can lead to a tricky situation. The first week with wind and rain in Brittany as well as short 4th and 3rd category climbs was raced in similar conditions as the ones we have in Belgian races in the first two weeks of April. So who better than us, solid 80 kilo riders, to do the work to keep the team leader safe?
I’m proud to be here helping Cadel Evans and I know and feel that his stage victory in Mur de Bretagne and his possible podium in Paris was and would be the result of team work that involves every BMC rider but also all the staff, from the mechanics to the masseurs all the way up to the team manager, who picked the nine riders at the start of the Tour.
The good atmosphere and the team unity are the result of the role each one of us plays. Everyone matters!
I know that working for Cadel means renouncing a personal stage win but the general classification is certainly a bigger goal. Anyway, during the last week of the Tour, I might have a chance to join a breakaway and to give up the responsibility of controlling the race or waiting for the end of the stage to play a tactical role. In this case, a personal result is not to be ruled out but it’s just a remote possibility.
In any case, for me, cycling can look like an individual sport but it’s always more of a team sport.
Me and my seven team mates are here to help the Kangaroo obtain the best possible result. It’s our target, the team’s target and we will give our best to reach this target. If he wins, we can raise our arms too!
Manuel Quinziato, 31, is Italian and rides for the BMC Racing team.
He turned professional in 2002, racing for the Lampre, Saunier-Duval and Liquigas teams before joining BMC this season