Category Archives: Henrik’s Wheel

Mental Fitness

Five miles into the ride, the warm-up is over, we turn south on A-1-A and set up the pace line. Today, we have five riders. It was a weekday, so the ride will be a quick 28 miles.

Mike takes the lead, Scott follows, then Rob, Henrik and me. There is a southerly flow in our face, so Mike pulls an easy 19-20 to the first set of buildings. The route ducks behind some condo towers and in the swirl, the speed climbs to 21. By now, the gaps are closed and the line becomes efficient. To be a part of this team, each member takes a turn on the nose, maximum effort into the wind. Macho and ego may play a part (of course it does), but it is the responsibility of the lead bike to keep up a respectable pace. If the leader on the nose sees the speed drop off, it is time to move left and signal the pace line up. A short respectable pull is more appreciated than a longer pull that slows down the line.

As the leader moves off the nose and back to the rear of the pace line, it is important to maintain enough speed to hook on the back and close the gap. A brief lapse in concentration and the pace line can run right past. If too much space opens up, the last rider might lose the wheel in front and suddenly find themselves off the back.

If I could only catch Henrik’s wheel. Four feet, three feet, two feet, hold the gap. Don’t lose the wheel again. Mike comes off the front, Scott moves up, Mike will hook up in another 30 seconds. Close the gap. If Mike hooks up and I lose Henrik’s wheel, we will both be off the back.

The interdependence of the team requires each member to show up rested and fit. Each team member is responsible for conditioning, nutrition, overall aerobic fitness and strength.

When you look at your team, do they show up rested and fit? Does each team member take responsibility for their own conditioning, to support the interdependency of performance? Business projects often require long hours, focused concentration, dogged determination, stamina. Success requires a clear head. It takes more than a willingness to close the gaps. It takes fitness (mental and physical) to execute, to move the bike (project). How fit is your team? What does fitness look like for you?

60 for 60

Rolled out of bed at 4:30 this morning, pulled on my burnt orange cycling jersey, filled my water bottles and headed into the darkness. Passed through the neutral zone and picked up Cary and Henrik, Danny joined us before 14th Street and we picked up Earle at A1A. Slight headwind going south to the turnaround, the four musketeers peeled off, I pressed on over the 17th Street bridge. The scenic loop through downtown was quiet.

Back on the beach, got picked up by a young group that cranked the speed up to 23. Held that all the way back to Hillsboro bridge. The second 20 miles done in 59 minutes. The boys had to go to work, so that left the last 20 solo up to Delray. Total time 3h27m.

What a great way to start the next decade.

April 21-22, 2012 is the MS-150 (150 miles over two days) to support the fight against MS. If you would like to support my ride, you can follow this link to the donation page.

My thanks to everyone for your support.

Best Predictor of Future Behavior

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

Question:

My friend has an interview today and the question she is worried about is, what sets you apart from other potential applicants? Why would we hire you? What can you offer our company? Why do you want to work for us?

Response:

On the one hand, candidates should be prepared to respond to these questions. On the other hand, interviewers who use these questions are idiots who don’t know the first thing about hiring. That being said, they still make hiring decisions, so these idiots still have power.

The problem with these questions is that they provide absolutely no insight to the candidate’s ability to be successful in the position.

My viewpoint stems from this philosophy – The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If I want to know how a person will behave when they come to work for us, all I have to do is find out how they have behaved in the past.

Over the next few days, we will spend time examining a better approach to interviewing, and a better approach to being a candidate. -TF

Tour de France Update

So, Floyd Landis (USA-PHO) brings the yellow jersey back to the USA. A former teammate of Lance Armstrong, in 2005, he changed teams to get out from under the wing. That first year, he placed ninth, this year, he placed first. The amazing recovery from his total breakdown in stage 16 to his blistering domination in Stage 17 will be talked about for years.

Final Standing – 2006 Tour de France

1-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO -89hrs 39min 30sec

2-PEREIRO SIO, Oscar -ESP-CEI –+57sec

3-KLÖDEN, Andréas -GER-TMO –+1min 29sec

4-SASTRE, Carlos -ESP-CSC –+3min 13sec

5-EVANS, Cadel -AUS-DVL –+5min 8sec

6-MENCHOV, Denis -RUS-RAB –+7min 6sec

7-DESSEL, Cyril -FRA-A2R –+8min 41sec

8-MOREAU, Christophe -FRA-A2R –+9min 37sec

9-ZUBELDIA, Haimar -ESP-EUS –+12min 5sec

10-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+15min 7sec

11-SCHLECK, Frank -LUX-CSC –+17min 46sec

12-CUNEGO, Damiano -ITA-LAM –+19min 19sec

13-LEIPHEIMER, Levi -USA-GST –+19min 22sec

14-BOOGERD, Michael -NED-RAB –+19min 46sec

15-FOTHEN, Marcus -GER-GST –+19min 57sec

16-CAUCCHIOLI, Pietro -ITA-C.A –+21min 12sec

17-VALJAVEC, Tadej -SLO-LAM –+26min 25sec

18-RASMUSSEN, Mickael -DEN-RAB –+28min 33sec

19-AZEVEDO, José -POR-DSC –+38min 8sec

20-BRUSEGHIN, Marzio -ITA-LAM –+43min 5sec

Like a Little League Team

It was a simple question. After all was said, I am not even sure Erwin expected an answer. We had been talking about accountability, specifically, how to train managers to hold team members accountable.

Erwin wasn’t sure that it was even possible. Perhaps he was becoming a believer.

The first step is building the connection. The second step is the model itself, the sequence of steps. The third step, aahh, the third step is practice. This is the step most companies miss.

“Bring them to a meeting, run them through a PowerPoint, answer a few questions. Boom. They should get it. Right?” Erwin was staring, not a blank stare, but a focused stare. Behind his eyes danced the hundreds of hours his company had spent training its managers.

“Was it a waste?” he finally asked.

“I can show you how to throw a ball, but if you want to get good at it, what do you have to do?” It was my turn to stare.

Erwin took a long time to respond. “Like a Little League team?” he quietly whispered.

“Like a Little League team. Most companies expect a high level of performance after a single pass in training.

“How do you teach accountability? The method is easy. It’s the practice that’s hard. In fact, most companies skip the practice, then wonder what happened.” -TF

Monday, July 24 is the kickoff day for our Working Management Series. We have four spaces left. For more information, follow this link.

Tour de France Update

You may have noticed we missed our TDF coverage yesterday. I was in a small township in Pennsylvania with a cobbled together internet connection. Just enough bandwidth to crank out a couple of emails, but not enough to post the update.

It was the second stage in the Alps, which brought out the real mettle. Mickael Rasmussen (DEN-RAB) had his way, true to his favorite form, by himself all alone. No sprint to the finish, as the contenders were already done many kilometers before. Even Floyd Landis (USA-PHO) was broken, dropped in a breakaway by Carlos Sastre (ESP-CSC) with 10km to go. Landis never recovered and lost ground to all the top riders, ending the day in 11th place overall, eight minutes behind.

But Thursday was different. Landis recovered from the dead, against all odds makers. In a calculated move, Team Phonak lead off the front of the peleton, following an escape of eleven. Once Landis had caught the yellow jersey, he pummeled forward to the chase group and picked them off one by one. He crossed the finish alone, almost six minutes ahead of Sastre and seven minutes ahead of Oscar Pereiro (ESP-CEI).

After all was said and done, it is these three separated by thirty seconds.

Overall Standings after Stage 17

1-PEREIRO SIO, Oscar -ESP-CEI -80hrs 8min 49sec

2-SASTRE, Carlos -ESP-CSC –+12sec

3-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO –+30sec

4-KLÖDEN, Andréas -GER-TMO –+2min 29sec

5-EVANS, Cadel -AUS-DVL –+3min 8sec

6-MENCHOV, Denis -RUS-RAB –+4min 14sec

7-DESSEL, Cyril -FRA-A2R –+4min 24sec

8-MOREAU, Christophe -FRA-A2R –+5min 45sec

9-ZUBELDIA, Haimar -ESP-EUS –+8min 16sec

10-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+12min 13sec

11-SCHLECK, Frank -LUX-CSC –+13min 48sec

12-BOOGERD, Michael -NED-RAB –+13min 52sec

13-CAUCCHIOLI, Pietro -ITA-C.A –+15min 46sec

14-CUNEGO, Damiano -ITA-LAM –+17min 18sec

15-FOTHEN, Marcus -GER-GST –+17min 23sec

16-VALJAVEC, Tadej -SLO-LAM –+20min 50sec

17-RASMUSSEN, Mickael -DEN-RAB –+21min 4sec

18-LEIPHEIMER, Levi -USA-GST –+22min 1sec

19-AZEVEDO, José -POR-DSC –+34min 1sec

20-ARROYO, David -ESP-CEI –+37min 11sec

It’s Something Invisible

“This accountability model is more than just a way for the manager to talk about performance.” I was talking with Erwin about managers and accountability. I was talking about step two in this four part model.

  • Making the connection.
  • Creating the model.
  • Practicing the model.
  • Coaching the model.

“On the face of it, the model is just a sequence of steps, but it has to accomplish something invisible.” I stopped. Erwin furrowed his brow.

“Look, Erwin. Why don’t managers hold their team members accountable? It’s not because they don’t know how. It’s for a whole bunch of other reasons. Mostly, it’s fear; fear of confrontation; fear that the team member will quit; fear that the team member will respond negatively; fear that the team member may stir up trouble. The fear is invisible.

“But, the model has to face this fear. The model has to be stronger than the fear. If it’s not, at the first sign of stress, the manager will retreat into avoiding the accountability conversation.”

“And your model does that?” asked Erwin.

“Yes, it does. Do you want to know how?” Erwin grinned, his eyes grew wide and he leaned forward in his chair. -TF

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There are six spaces left in our management program that begins next Monday, July 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For more information, please follow the link to www.workingmanagement.com.

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Tour de France Update

Even with a day of rest, the Alps took their toll. The finish staging area looked more like triage than jubilance. Floyd Landis (USA-PHO) regained the yellow jersey, but at what price. His consolation is that his muscle exhaustion is no different than the others.

This is the start of week three. At this point, the riders split. Some break down, the kilometers ravage the body that wants to quit. Others get stronger. The rigor hardens the muscles and disciplines the body to tap its reserves.

Today saw a breakaway of 25 riders early on. As they assaulted the steep climbs, the escapees were picked apart, one by one with Landis in control. He held back from the stage win, focused on gaining time against Denis Menchov (RUS-RAB), Andreas Kloden (GER-TMO) and Cadel Evans (AUS-DVL). It is likely to be one of those four in yellow on Sunday. The picture becomes clearer.

But there are two more days in the Alps. Everyone is tired. Some will be strong. Some will break.

Overall Standings after Stage 15

1-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO -69hrs 5sec

2-PEREIRO SIO, Oscar -ESP-CEI –+10sec

3-DESSEL, Cyril -FRA-A2R –+2min 2sec

4-MENCHOV, Denis -RUS-RAB –+2min 12sec

5-SASTRE, Carlos -ESP-CSC –+2min 17sec

6-KLÖDEN, Andréas -GER-TMO –+2min 29sec

7-EVANS, Cadel -AUS-DVL –+2min 59sec

8-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+5min 1sec

9-LEIPHEIMER, Levi -USA-GST –+6min 18sec

10-ZUBELDIA, Haimar -ESP-EUS –+6min 20sec

11-MOREAU, Christophe -FRA-A2R –+6min 22sec

12-SCHLECK, Frank -LUX-CSC –+7min 7sec

13-POPOVYCH, Yaroslav -UKR-DSC –+7min 36sec

14-MERCADO, Juan Miguel -ESP-AGR –+7min 39sec

15-FOTHEN, Marcus -GER-GST –+8min 23sec

16-BOOGERD, Michael -NED-RAB –+9min 15sec

17-CHAVANEL, Sylvain -FRA-COF –+9min 56sec

18-MERCKX, Axel -BEL-PHO –+10min 25sec

19-PARRA, Ivan Ramiro -COL-COF –+10min 43sec

20-TOTSCHNIG, Georg -AUT-GST –+10min 53sec

Head Trash

“Standing in the classroom, it doesn’t matter what the subject is, first I have to deal with headtrash,” I said. We were locked in a discussion about learning.

“So, how do you teach a manager how to hold someone accountable,” Erwin repeated.

“It’s easy to teach someone the method. The difficult part is finding that part of the brain that keeps them from doing it. Most mismanagement comes from the manager sitting on a problem, not making a decision, not taking action.”

Erwin nodded in agreement. “I have seen that over and over.”

“The first step is awareness, identifying the reason for hesitation. Managers can come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid the necessary confrontation. That is where we start.” -TF

Coming soon is a new design for Management Skills Blog. We have been working hard to develop new programs for managers, both classroom and online. Follow this link to find out about our next management program beginning July 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Tour de France Update

Out of the Pyranees and back into a couple of flat stages. Here the breakaways over the weekend were successful in shaking up the top contenders.

For Team Discovery (USA), they saw Yaroslav Popovych (UKR-DSC) come back from place 23 to place 11 in a stage win that also saw teammate Paolo Salvoldelli abandon the race after a crash.

Popvych is the only hope for Discovery with most forecasting either Floyd Landis (USA-PHO), Denis Menchov (RUS-RAB) or Cadel Evans (AUS-DVL) to take podium honors in Paris.

But we still have the Alps to go.

Overall Standings after Stage 14

1-PEREIRO SIO, Oscar -ESP-CEI -64hrs 05min 4sec

2-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO –+1min 29sec

3-DESSEL, Cyril -FRA-A2R –+1min 37sec

4-MENCHOV, Denis -RUS-RAB –+2min 30sec

5-EVANS, Cadel -AUS-DVL –+2min 46sec

6-SASTRE, Carlos -ESP-CSC –+3min 21sec

7-KLÖDEN, Andréas -GER-TMO –+3min 58sec

8-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+4min 51sec

9-MERCADO, Juan Miguel -ESP-AGR –+5min 2sec

10-MOREAU, Christophe -FRA-A2R –+5min 13sec

11-POPOVYCH, Yaroslav -UKR-DSC –+5min 44sec

12-FOTHEN, Marcus -GER-GST –+5min 46sec

13-ZUBELDIA, Haimar -ESP-EUS –+5min 55sec

14-SINKEWITZ, Patrik -GER-TMO –+7min 7sec

15-LEIPHEIMER, Levi -USA-GST –+7min 8sec

16-BOOGERD, Michael -NED-RAB –+7min 23sec

17-TOTSCHNIG, Georg -AUT-GST –+8min 16sec

18-KARPETS, Vladimir -RUS-CEI –+8min 36sec

19-AZEVEDO, José -POR-DSC –+9min 11sec

20-SCHLECK, Frank -LUX-CSC –+10min 6sec

Yes, But How Do You Train It?

It was a fair question. We were talking about core management skills that companies don’t train.

“How do you teach a supervisor how to hold a team member accountable for performance?” asked Erwin. “I mean, it sounds good. It’s a great buzzword, but come on. I just don’t see how you teach it.”

“I get the impression, you think accountability is a skill that can’t be trained,” I replied. “Tell me, how important is it?”

“Well, it’s important, but I am just not convinced it is something that can be trained.” Erwin’s jaw was set.

“I can see your point,” I said. “That’s why most companies don’t train their managers to do it. They think it’s important, but they don’t teach it.” Erwin was skeptical, but I had his attention.

“There are really two parts to accountability,” I continued. “First, is how to do it, the steps, the method. That’s the easy part. The second part is tougher. It’s all about the head trash swimming in the brain of the manager. In teaching, I spend more time on that part than the method.

“Tell you what, Erwin, meet me here on Monday for coffee and we’ll talk more about both parts.”

We have been working hard on a new curriculum. Our next management program kicks off July 24, 2006, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Follow this link to find out more.

Tour de France Update

Floyd Landis (USA-PHO) is making his move. It was very deliberate Wednesday, to hang back, conserving energy for Thursday’s stage, minimizing the time loss and waiting to strike. His third place finish in Stage 11 gained him an 8 second time bonus which marks the current lead over Stage 10’s winner, Cyril Dessel (FRA-A2R). If Landis’ team can protect him through the next three stages in the Alps, he may keep the jersey into Paris.

This tough Stage 11 saw Discovery’s team crumble with George Hincapie (USA-DSC) dropping to 40th place gapping down 23:00min. Paolo Salvoldelli (ITA-DSC) is 24:00min behind Landis. Unless there is catastrophic chaos at the top of the heap, this margin puts both riders out of range of the podium. Only Discovery’s Yaroslav Popovych (UKR-DSC) has any chance and he is down 9:00min.

Overall Standings After Stage Eleven

1-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO -49hrs 18min 7sec

2-DESSEL, Cyril -FRA-A2R –+8sec

3-MENCHOV, Denis -RUS-RAB –+1min 1sec

4-EVANS, Cadel -AUS-DVL –+1min 17sec

5-SASTRE, Carlos -ESP-CSC –+1min 52sec

6-KLÖDEN, Andréas -GER-TMO –+2min 29sec

7-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+3min 22sec

8-MERCADO, Juan Miguel -ESP-AGR –+3min 33sec

9-MOREAU, Christophe -FRA-A2R –+3min 44sec

10-FOTHEN, Marcus -GER-GST –+4min 17sec

11-ZUBELDIA, Haimar -ESP-EUS –+4min 26sec

12-SINKEWITZ, Patrik -GER-TMO –+5min 38sec

13-LEIPHEIMER, Levi -USA-GST –+5min 39sec

14-BOOGERD, Michael -NED-RAB –+5min 54sec

15-LANDALUZE, Inigo -ESP-EUS –+6min 33sec

Maximum Capability

Thanks to Arne for his comment Tuesday. The discussion was in response to an inquiry of the source for the descriptive term Strata in relation to various roles in the organization. I have been working extensively with Elliott Jaques research for the past five years. Arne’s experience, however, was not altogether positive

The work of Jacques appears to most at the outset as interesting and logical.

It becomes more troubling as one reads his entire book (page pairs and all) and you realize some of the more subversive themes to his work. Notably that individuals have a natural maximum stratum that they are capable at working – and this stratus maximus is determined during their childhood. If a worker, say deemed as a Stratum II worker bee, then in an organization that follows this discipline naturally would not promote them further than this.

Arne, I would certainly agree that Jaques work is controversial but would never characterize it as subversive. I think more accurately, the implementation made by your company may have been misguided. It is very easy to misinterpret Jaques.

He did, indeed, believe that each person has a maximum capability to handle complex tasks in a given role, just as we are all genetically determined to grow to a certain height. At my height, I will never become an effective NBA basketball player. No matter how many toe stretches I do or how much training I may get, I will never make it on that court.

Maximum capability is a bit more difficult to detect. But the practice you describe, slotting a person in Strata II for the balance of their life, is precisely the wrong managerial practice. The Requisite managerial practice would be to continually test the individual with longer time span assignments until they reach the point at which they fail. That failure would indicate, at that moment, there is evidence that maximum capability was exceeded. The Requisite managerial practice would then be to shorten the time span assignment back to where the person was successful. Then wait.

Wait perhaps, three months, then test the person again with a longer time span assignment. This process should be repeated, continually challenging a person to reach their highest level of capability throughout their career.

In your experience, it is possible that this practice was not clearly understood or miscommunicated. It is always the job of the manager to constantly challenge team members to their highest levels of performance.

Gotta go practice my free throws, Dwayne Wade is on the phone. -TF

Tour de France Update

It was the first day in the Pyranees, the first mountain stage and things got weird. With many of the major contenders disqualified or out of the race, distant riders are taking chances and dicing things up.

Who is Cyril Dessel (FRA-A2R)? Well, he formed an early breakaway today that succeeded and he ended up, not only with the yellow jersey, but with the polka-dot King of the Mountain jersey as well. Juan Miguel Mercado (ESP-AGR) was the stage winner, but it was not enough to knock out Dessel.

Sergiy Gonchar (UKR-TMO) had predictable trouble when he hit the mountains. Big gears and mountains don’t go well together. Floyd Landis (USA-PHO) was content to let the opportunists notch him down to fifth place, hoping they will not be able to sustain successive back to back efforts.

Team Discovery’s Paolo Salvodelli (ITA-DSC) trails Landis by 1min 10sec and may be USAs only hope for a podium finish. George Hincapie (USA-DSC) drops to 19th place, two minutes behind Landis. Tomorrow is another rough day in the Pyranees.

Overall Standings after Stage Ten

1-DESSEL, Cyril -FRA-A2R -43hrs 7min 5sec

2-MERCADO, Juan Miguel -ESP-AGR –+2min 34sec

3-HONCHAR, Serhiy -UKR-TMO –+3min 45sec

4-MORENI, Cristian -ITA-COF –+3min 51sec

5-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO –+4min 45sec

6-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+4min 53sec

7-LANDALUZE, Inigo -ESP-EUS –+5min 22sec

8-SINKEWITZ, Patrik -GER-TMO –+5min 30sec

9-KLÖDEN, Andréas -GER-TMO –+5min 35sec

10-KARPETS, Vladimir -RUS-CEI –+5min 37sec

11-EVANS, Cadel -AUS-DVL –+5min 37sec

12-ZABRISKIE, David -USA-CSC –+5min 38sec

13-FOTHEN, Marcus -GER-GST –+5min 48sec

14-MOREAU, Christophe -FRA-A2R –+5min 52sec

15-SAVOLDELLI, Paolo -ITA-DSC –+5min 55sec

16-MENCHOV, Denis -RUS-RAB –+5min 58sec

17-KESSLER, Matthias -GER-TMO –+6min 1sec

18-SASTRE, Carlos -ESP-CSC –+6min 12sec

19-HINCAPIE, George -USA-DSC –+6min 15sec

20-PEREIRO SIO, Oscar -ESP-CEI –+6min 42sec

Twisting in the Wind

From the Ask Tom mailbox:

Question:

How do you teach Strata II to a new manager? I have a problem at work because a peer who is also a manager is failing miserably in his new role and our boss will not help him or train him in any way, shape, or form.

I tell him things when he comes to me for advice for a particular situation but since I am trying to manage my department and people, I cannot spend the time and I do not have the authority to step in and diagnose all the problems and restructure and re-organize since I am a peer. I have instructed him to go to our boss and that did not help a bit.

The morale is getting worse & worse and the boss is ignoring it!

How do you teach Strata II?

Thank you very much for your guidance!

Response:

Your new Strata II manager is in a tough spot. It is not unusual, but it is still a tough spot.

He has been promoted to being in charge of a small number of people. He has a new completely different role that requires a brand new set of tools. Without any baseline experience as a supervisor, his self-confidence will be unstable.

Worse yet, your company will let him twist in the wind without direction. It’s not malicious. Most companies do not know how to work with brand new supervisors to make them successful.

You say you don’t have the time or the authority, but you appear to be willing to help as long as it doesn’t cost you the farm. If you are up for it, we can create a game plan. This is precisely the skill set we teach in our Working Management program (next session – July 24).

Step One is to specifically define the role. Remember, Strata I does the work. Strata II makes sure the work gets done. The core skills are scheduling people, coordinating materials, supplies and equipment, breaking down larger goals into daily work targets, monitoring work progress, checking for accuracy and completeness.

I don’t know what that means in your company, but that is where I would start. The written description to those questions should fit on one page.

The biggest tool for the Strata II manager is the weekly schedule, kept two weeks in advance. The two other important tools are checklists and short meetings (daily and weekly huddle meetings).

Get started on these items and brief us back here with an email.

If you (the rest of you) have a helpful suggestion related to our new Strata II manager, please post a comment below.

Tour de France Update

Stage Seven. Saturday’s Time Trial, as expected, broke the field wide open. The duo of Tom Boonen (BEL-QSI) and Robbie McEwan (AUS-DVL), who dominated the first week of racing predictably fell to 41st and 109th in the stage. Serhiy Gonchar (UKR-TMO) grinding it out in a heavy gear set a blistering pace and never faded, capturing a stage win and the yellow jersey. Team T-Mobile is doing quite well without Jan Ullrich who was scratched from the Tour 24 hours before the start.

Stage Eight. It is rare that a breakaway succeeds, but when it does, it becomes the isolated exception that keeps riders trying to break the rule. The peleton tried to organize for the catch, but it was too late with too much distance. It was an early break at 47km that held to the end (181km). The last three riders in the escape Sylvain Calzati (FRA-A2R), Kjell Carlstrom (FIN-LIQ) and Patrice HALGAND (FRA-C.A) held together until 148km when Calzati make a dash that neither Carlstrom nor Halgand could respond to. With 25km to go, Calzati was 30 seconds ahead. By the end, he had extended his lead to 2:05. It was his first career stage win.

The Tour takes a break on Monday with a relatively flat stage on Tuesday. Look for the sprinters to be back in force. Then we go to the mountains. Floyd Landis (USA-PHO), a former Armstrong teammate now racing for Team Phonak, seems poised to take advantage of his lead.

Overall Standings after Stage Eight

1-HONCHAR, Serhiy -UKR-TMO -34hrs 38min 53sec

2-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO –+1min

3-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+1min 8sec

4-SINKEWITZ, Patrik -GER-TMO –+1min 45sec

5-FOTHEN, Marcus -GER-GST –+1min 50sec

6-KLÖDEN, Andréas -GER-TMO –+1min 50sec

7-KARPETS, Vladimir -RUS-CEI –+1min 52sec

8-EVANS, Cadel -AUS-DVL –+1min 52 sec

9-ZABRISKIE, David -USA-CSC –+1min 53sec

10-MENCHOV, Denis -RUS-RAB –+2min

11-KESSLER, Matthias -GER-TMO –+2min 3sec

12-MOREAU, Christophe -FRA-A2R –+2min 7sec

13-SAVOLDELLI, Paolo -ITA-DSC –+2min 10sec

14-MAZZOLENI, Eddy -ITA-TMO –+2min 14sec

15-LANG, Sebastian -GER-GST –+2min 22sec

16-SASTRE, Carlos -ESP-CSC –+2min 27sec

17-HINCAPIE, George -USA-DSC –+2mim 30sec

18-PEREIRO SIO, Oscar -ESP-CEI –+2min 57sec

19-LÖVKVIST, Thomas -SWE-FDJ –+3min 1sec

20-ROUS, Didier -FRA-BTL –+3min 15sec

TDF-Breaking Away

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

Question:

Every day that we watch the Tour de France, a small group always breaks ahead of the big pack, but they always get caught. Why do they do that, if they always get caught? And why do they always get caught?

Response:

In spite of the almost certainty the breakaway group will be hunted down and swept away, they earn valuable points through designated sprint zones. While most of us watch the race focused on the yellow jersey, there are other competitions inside the race.

And the breakaway group doesn’t always get caught. On rare occasions, the escape group manages to hold the lead, hoping for a miscalculation on the part of the peleton (the big pack).

The peleton, on the other hand, attempts to manage the pace of the race to eventually catch the escape. The swarm of riders in the big group creates an enormous wind tunnel, so riders are able to conserve more of their energy while traveling at greater speed than the breakaway group. The breakaway group, usually five to seven riders, creates a smaller slipstream, with each rider required to take a turn on the front, breaking the wind for the riders behind. Riding single file, constantly switching the lead, the escapees consume more energy, ultimately tiring and getting caught. Near the end, the escape group may lose its members one by one as they exhaust themselves.

The veteran sprinters will almost never be involved in a breakaway, knowing the peleton will manage the race tempo. These vets will conserve their energy for the final sprint to the finish.

Stage Five. What we thought would be another sprinter’s battle between Boonen (BEL-QSI) and McEwan (AUS-DVL) was spoiled by Oscar Freire (ESP-RAB) from Team Rabobank. As the sprinters accelerated from the pack Freire moved quietly up the right side without attracting attention and slipped by frontrunners, beating them to the finish.

In the overall standings, Hincapie (USA-DSC) dropped behind Freire on points, now 17 seconds behind the lead. All this will change, however, when we get to the time trial on Saturday, July 8 (Stage 7). It’s a long time trial, 52km, favoring the GC (General Classification) contenders.

Overall Standings after Stage Five

1-BOONEN, Tom -BEL-QSI -25hrs 10min 51sec

2-ROGERS, Michael -AUS-TMO –+13sec

3-FREIRE, Oscar -ESP-RAB –+17sec

4-HINCAPIE, George -USA-DSC –+17sec

5-HUSHOVD, Thor -NOR-C.A –+19sec

6-MC EWEN, Robbie -AUS-DVL –+24sec

7-SAVOLDELLI, Paolo -ITA-DSC –+27sec

8-LANDIS, Floyd -USA-PHO –+28sec

9-KARPETS, Vladimir -RUS-CEI –+29sec

10-HONCHAR, Serhiy -UKR-TMO –+29sec