TAC­TICS 101 # 9 Why you need to have a plan B

Procycling - - THE BIG INTERVIEW -

The French team went into the Worlds road race with the strong­est team, the pre-race favourite in Ju­lian Alaphilippe, and a plan to go all-in be­hind him, leav­ing rid­ers with the climb­ing cal­i­bre of Ro­main Bardet and Thibaut Pinot tasked to work for him.But this is cy­cling, where plans rarely go as hoped, and adap­ta­tion is usu­ally al­ways needed. As the de­ci­sive Hot­tinger Höll loomed, things looked to be go­ing per­fectly, as three tri­colour jer­seys moved to the front. But when the leg-crunch­ing gra­di­ents reared up, Alaphilippe cramped. In an in­stant Bardet, who had been mar­shalling the six-rider front group for Alaphillipe’s ex­pected at­tack, took up the reins as his team-mate was dropped. He kept pace with Michael Woods and Ale­jan­dro Valverde over the climb, and se­cured a sil­ver medal in the fi­nal sprint. Cri­sis some­what averted.

France ended the race with three rid­ers in the top 10, as Alaphilippe and Pinot fin­ished eighth and ninth. Alaphilippe was con­sid­ered France’s more ver­sa­tile rider, yet Pinot and Bardet turned out to be stronger. Bardet’s run­ner-up spot con­firmed his cre­den­tials as a re­spectable one­day racer, while Pinot’s form at the Ital­ian clas­sics – cul­mi­nat­ing in a win at Lom­bar­dia - sug­gested he had the legs to chal­lenge for the vic­tory. France quickly switched to plan B, but with a dif­fer­ent plan A, could they have left with the rain­bow jer­sey?

Bardet took up the reins for France at the Worlds, when his leader Alaphilippe cramped on the climb

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