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The art of winning

Behind the scenes with Chris Froome and his TDF team on their road to victory. Winning the Tour de France takes more than individual talent. You need an outstanding team. And a small army behind them.

Team Sky make it look so easy. They controlled the Tour de France from start to finish. This was Chris Froome’s third victory and Team Sky’s fourth – they won with Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012 where Froome already finishing second. It’s a legacy that doesn’t come by accident. Team Sky has perfected the art of winning with a magnificent mix of intelligence, talent and commitment. Their secret? Teamwork between the riders, support staff and partners like Shimano.

“The team was fantastic. Everyone could see for themselves that we had probably the strongest team we’ve every put into a Grand Tour."

At this year’s Tour de France, Chris Froome and Team Sky took their art of winning to even greater heights. Already famous for their strategy of aggregate marginal gains – finding 1% improvements in everything to achieve optimum performance – they applied this strategy as a team to gain time throughout the Tour de France, not just in the mountains.

“The team was fantastic. Everyone could see for themselves that we had probably the strongest team we’ve every put into a Grand Tour. The calibre of the guys that I had to help me. Many of those guys could win stage races for themselves,” explained Froome.

Putting the ‘team’ in Team Sky

But it wasn’t just the riders on the rode who contributed to victory. 40 support staff travel with the riders. Mechanics, nutritionists, carers, doctors, masseurs, psychiatrists, sports directors, drivers… and more. And they were all exhausted by the end of the Tour from the workload and the lack of sleep. It was their daily sacrifices that enabled Froome and his teammates to ride at the level they did. 

"It’s a group effort. This is definitely not an individual sport.”

“Of course we owe a massive thank you to the support that’s around us the whole year. People forget that these guys are away from their families just as much, if not more than we are. Up at training camps, in the races, doing everything for us so that we can focus on the racing. It’s a group effort. This is definitely not an individual sport,” Froome added.

The team behind the Team

The list goes on, because supporting the team on the road are even more managers, logistics and operations staff back at their main base in the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, England and the logistics centre in Deinze, Belgium.

Besides Team Sky itself, there’s another layer of support – a more invisible layer – and that’s where Shimano fits in. We don’t just sponsor Team Sky by providing them with our components – we are integral part of the support team.

Preparing for victory

The Tour de France isn’t won in July. The preparations start long before. Shimano attended Sky’s December and January training camps. Followed by visits to every World Tour race the team competed in to check if everything is under control.

“On our visits we talk to the Technical Director (Carsten Jeppesen) and the mechanics to see if everything is under control. We check whether they have any problems, give suggestions on how best to use our products, set up their bikes and send them the 'spare parts' they need to optimally perform in the races,” Rudy Bouwmeester, Shimano Sports Marketing Manager.

One example of the innovations he could call on this year was the exclusive use of our new DURA-ACE C40 wheel. Combining lightweight materials with an aerodynamic design, it saves valuable watts when climbing and accelerating. Froome chose to use this wheel in the time trials and on several key mountain stages. 

“One man crosses the finish line as the winner in Paris. But it takes an army to get him there. We’re proud to be a part of that army.”

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