Cooperation, Back Stabbing And Bikes

I managed to catch the last 10km of the men’s cycling road race on the telebox last night and it struck me what a strange event this is, especially when compared to some others.

Road cycling is one of those sports that I can have on the TV and take an interest in while doing something else.  Last night it was on while I was in a bar, for example!  Watching the start sometimes feels as constructive as watching paint dry considering how much there is to come, so you have it on so you don’t miss the end or in the sadistic hope that someone crashes.

The men’s Olympic road race was just over 236km in distance and featured an estimated elevation gain of 3600m with some gradients approaching 20%.  It sounds awful! An interesting feature of road racing (for me) is the cooperation between riders and, from what I can gather from the experts, that cooperation would be really important on such a course.

I’ve watched the Tour de France and levels of cooperation are easily defined because of the trade teams that the cyclists represent.  Wind resistance is a crucial factor in cycling, and road racing involves teams who share the load of pushing through it, going to the front in turn to let the ones behind ‘draft’ and conserve their energy.

However, the race dynamic is quite different when it’s nation vs nation.  Not only are the cyclists not racing for and with their regular teams, but their teams are much smaller for the Olympics.  Only five nations sent their full quota of five riders whereas a lot of trade teams will be composed of 8 or 9.  This would make it much harder for nations to control a race.

With 10km to go yesterday, Poland’s Rafal Majka was out on his own, in front by about 20 seconds.  He was being chased down by a group of around 7 riders I think.  As the camera moved to these 7 riders, you could see that they all represented different countries and that they were having a conversation.  After the conversation finished, the formed a chain and took it in turns to move to the front.

It was like a group of guys had gone out for a ride on a Sunday afternoon, only they were working as a team in this instance to beat the favourites.  If the whole paleton got to the line at the same time, the sprinters would go for it which puts the guys who place greater focus on endurance at a disadvantage.

Yet, that’s kind of what happened, because someone has to win.  With a few hundred meters of the 236000 left, and well over 6 hours after they started this gruelling process, two riders went for it and raced to the finish.  Having helped each other for so long, it suddenly became every man for himself in a battle of attrition, each of them waiting for the other to make the first move.

It felt like a strange sport that effectively puts competition aside for the vast majority of the event before finally screwing someone over at the last!

I thought that I could always count on you,
I thought that nothing could become between us two.
We said as long as we would stick together,
We’d be alright,
We’d be ok.
But I was stupid
And you broke me down
I’ll never be the same again.

So thank you for showing me,
That best friends can not be trusted,
And thank you for lying to me,
Your friendship and good times we had you can have them back

Yeah!

I wonder why it always has to hurt,
For every lesson that you have to learn.
I won’t forget what you did to me,
How you showed me things,
I wish I’d never seen.
But I was stupid,
And you broke me down,
I’ll never be the same again.

So thank you for showing me,
That best friends can not be trusted,
And thank you for lying to me,
Your friendship the good times we had you can have them back

When the tables turn again,
You’ll remember me my friend,
You’ll be wishing I was there for you.
I’ll be the one you’ll miss the most,
But you’ll only find my ghost.
As time goes by,
You’ll wonder why,
You’re all alone.

So thank you for showing me,
That best friends can not be trusted,
And thank you for lying to me,
Your friendship and good times we had you can have them back.

So thank you, for lying to me,
So thank you, for all the times you let me down
So thank you, for lying to me,
So thank you, your friendship you can have it back

Thank You by Simple Plan

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