THE THIRTEENTH DAY
In businesses the annual bonus ‘thirteenth month’ is a well known term. In the teams for which I have been active I introduced the term ‘the thirteenth day’, also valid once a year, during the Tour was the
The Tour is a battle of exhaustion for riders and staff. As well as there has to be a homogeneous riders selection - with a focus on maximum results- this also concerns the each year further expanding staff. A Tour staff can consist of two sports directors, four attendants, four mechanics, internet support team, team manager, doctor, media man, chiropractor, cook, bus driver and `carrier’. This year at Rabobank there are even two guys preparing the beds of the riders in the hotels with special mattresses.
Naturally within the staff a subcutaneous competition exists, everyone wants to go the Tour, the climax the season. On the other hand the conviction of mutual sacrifice, to help one and other and especially solving problems before they escalate and irritation arises, is essential for a successful Tour. Problems and irritations between staff will jump in no time to the riders and can cause uncertainty and an infected atmosphere. The collective is more important than the individual, nobody can appropriate himself a piece of the success. All attendants in principle prefer go to the race, taking position in the feed zone and at the finish is far more preferred above the preparation of the hotel rooms in anonymity, lugging trunks and other work that must be done outside the spotlights. You prevent ‘crooked faces’ by changing tasks from time to time. Washing and cleaning cars and doing the riders’ laundry are for example other jobs nearly everyone dislikes.
After the race, in the hotel the relative rest and comfort must be found to process the daily events amongst each other. Comfort is often lacking, privacy is above all essential to tackle irritations on the work floor before they escalate. The evening meal must be the moment where one can express himself, not impeded by press, fans and other ‘snitchers’. The evening meal must be the occasion on which everyone can look the other right in the eyes, under the pleasure of a beer all problems can be discussed and solved. Generally the staff leaves Tuesday or Wednesday before the Tour starts, the Tour itself comprises 23 days and therefore covers a total of 26 days away from home. Halfway the Tour, (yesterday) everyone is already underway for two weekends and totally thirteen days, still almost two long weeks to go. In case of lack of success the tension is rising, slumbering irritations are sometimes causing eruptions. In the prospect of the thirteenth day I repeatedly indicated the staff on the approaching phenomenon so that everyone was well aware of cutting the risk of arising indoor fires in the middle of in the Tour. On the evening itself we heaved the glasses and drank exuberantly on the Good Cooperation. This has happened undoubtedly also yesterday at the Rabobank table.Go back to the overview page