Team Sky – Lessons from the Tour de France –  Lessons for our Teams

Geraint Thomas, supported by Chris Froome
Geraint Thomas, supported by Chris Froome

Thanks to cycling fans who responded to our call for teamwork examples from Team Sky. Sky has dominated the Tour de France by winning the general classification (racer with the fastest time over the 21 stage race) in six of the last seven years. Although cycling may look like an individual event, team tactics, drafting and teammate support play a huge role in the outcome of a stage race, especially a race that is 3329 kilometers long.

Here are the teamwork lessons that go hand in hand with building our teams at work:

  • Sky has a clear goal – win the Tour de France
  • The support riders take pride in achieving the team goal – even when only one teammate stands on the podium
  • The domestiques (support riders) are the real winners behind any team. They provide the horsepower, seat belts and defense in an unselfish manner. These teammates are the glue that hold many teams together.
  • Four-time winner and this year’s favorite, Chris Froome, relinquished his chance to win in the later stages and offered his full support to Geraint Thomas, helping him win the race. (That is not only superb teamwork – that is great leadership.)
  • They have a plan and execute it. It looks simple – stave off attacks from contenders and protect our leader – but when its 167 opponents vs 9 teammates – the coordination and communication it takes to successfully execute your plan is extraordinary.
  • It helps to have money, and Sky has that. But to their credit, it isn’t squandered. It is applied to equipment, research, training and diet that yields the best return. Sky understands the ROI on where their capital is invested.
  • They set out to improve everything they do by 1%, thoughtful about the many small improvements that add up to large gains.
  • Team Sky management has maintained team unity by keeping the cyclist’s egos in check, knowing each rider well enough to position them as an important part of the team’s success.
  • Here is quote from Geraint Thomas that speaks volumes about team effectiveness, ‘We’ve just been open and honest with each other from the start.’ Thomas said. ‘I think that’s the main reason for our success so far at this Tour.’
  • They leave no stone unturned. Diet, sleep, equipment, cycling position, aerodynamics, mindset are all aspects the managers take into account to put their team in the best position to win. What’s left is training, planning and execution.
  • Be agile and prepared to refocus the team when it’s called for. In the 17thstage when Chris Froome cracked all of Sky’s team support, including Froome’s, went behind Geraint Thomas. There was no hesitation, lost time, our disagreement – the team was prepared for the new orders.

Here are some apt quotes made by members of Team Sky:

“The domestique’s lay the foundation for their leader’s and the team’s success”

“The domestique’s must have faith in the leader they are working for”

“The domestique personal satisfaction comes from doing their job well and meeting the team’s goals”

“The leader must appreciate the support the domestique has afforded them”

“Celebrate successes together” (even though only one rider wins a stage its clear from the team celebration after a stage win that all teammates feel they contributed.)

“Prepare for moments when you have to overcome what seems like insurmountable hurdles” (our training must accommodate a mental state that will overcome these barriers)

“Doing your homework and hard work prepares you mentally for victory”

“Don’t forgot about the Grupettos – the last group of riders who rode as support early in the race and must still finish the stage to stay in the race”

There is so much in the above we can apply to our teams at work. I am excited just thinking about it. Use this list wisely and make your team a champion.

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