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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 July, 2005, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
A Tour leader's tricks
By Matt Majendie

Floyd Landis and his Phonak team during the team time trial of stage four
There are a host of tricks to being a team leader on the Tour
Cycling is one of the few sports where a team work solely for one individual's glory.

A team's Tour de France focus varies on their leader's goals in the race - whether it be for overall victory, the green jersey for the leading sprinter or simply for an individual stage win.

And leadership becomes all the more important as the Tour hits its toughest stages from Tuesday.

BBC Sport talked to a series of the big-name leaders in this year's race to find out the tricks to being the ultimate leader.


Lance Armstrong
That one's sometimes easier to ask the guys around me. And in that respect, having the right riders around you is the key to leadership.

You're nothing as a leader without them and every year you have to freshen up that line-up as riders switch teams and the opposition gets tougher.

We've added to that this year with Paolo Savoldelli and Yaroslav Popovych. They're both very different.

Savoldelli's one for the now and riding very well - you only have to look at his Giro win for that - while Popovych is something of an unknown quantity and one for the future.

And after making sure you've got the best eight guys around you, you have to have the utter confidence they will do the job for you.


Ivan Basso
For me, the most important thing for a team leader is the team boss, in our case Bjarne Riis.

The other eight riders and I have to trust his judgement implicity, which tends to be fairly easy as he's won this race before (the Dane was victorious in 1996).

As leader, though, you have to lead by example as the eight people around you are working solely to get you to the top and for nothing else.

I have to get myself in the best form possible and, when my riders get me into position, achieve the best possible result.

If you do that consistently it can inspire the riders around you to put in that extra bit of effort, even when they're really hurting.


Floyd Landis
This is one of the first times I've ever been a team leader and I'd probably have a better idea after the mountains as to what it takes.

But having ridden under Lance's leadership (he rode with Armstrong in the last three Tours) I guess I've picked up a few tricks.

What he taught me is that, despite the fact that we were working for his victory, we were just as important, if not more so to that goal.

The other major trick is to try not to think about the fact you're team leader if at all possible.

I know that might not make sense but as a rider most things should come naturally and, if you worry about your leadership skills, it will only pile further unwanted pressure on you.


Levi Leipheimer
In the Gerolsteiner team we have two designated team leaders - Georg Totschnig and myself - so I guess the responsibilities are pretty much split down the middle.

And from my point of view, the key to leadership is making sure everyone's involved at every level.

A rider in your team should feel confident he can turn around to you and put forward any suggestion, however trivial, he believes could help better the team.

That also makes everything more tight-knit and gives our riders a sense of belonging.

Also as a team leader it's important to ensure you don't stick too heavily to the traditional methods of a team. Be happy to move with the times - be more modern and embrace more modern equipment and technology.


Iban Mayo
The key's knowing your team absolutely inside out, no question. That means knowing their strengths and weaknesses through and through.

Through that knowledge, you can tell where best to position yourselves and know as the leader when you feel the moment is right to attack.

If you know your team, as I feel I do, you won't be left stranded and there will be someone there to see you through.


Robbie McEwen
From a sprinters' perspective it's difficult to pinpoint what you want from a team leader and it varies from team to team.

At Fasso Bartolo, for example, Alessandro Petacchi orders his eight riders to form a train to lead him to stage victories, while I prefer my guys to peel off in the final kilometres to allow me to focus on my own riders.

I guess the best trick to leadership is knowing the riders inside out and making sure you're always relaxed with them.



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