On the eve of the Grand Départ of this historic race, we caught up with GC contender – overall fastest category in bicycle racing – Rigoberto Uran of EF Education First Pro Cycling who came 2nd in the 2017 Tour de France, for his insights into communication and leadership within this very international group, and parallels with the world of business.
Like most international organizations made up of talented individuals from around the world, the EF squad uses English as its main language.
“Communication is super important. We are in the Tour de France with 8 riders, and 8 different nationalities, and it’s all managed in English. How we plan the stage, looking for attacks in the peloton, how to defend and more. It’s a message for the whole team, not just the riders, everyone needs to have the same information.”
Propelling a rider to greatness at the Tour is a case study in teamwork, and all 40+ members of the wider team play a huge part:
“It’s a company really. For me everybody is very important, the riders are very important but also the mechanics, they fix our bikes and prepare them. The masseurs, chefs, and coaches, the directors, all of them are important. Without them, it would be impossible to compete in the Tour de France.”
Rigo is himself an entrepreneur as well as an athlete these days, so knows a thing or two about achievement on and off the road. The team ethic instilled via cycling now manifests itself in the boardroom:
“In a company, you have to work as a team. Every individual wants to show their results but everyone works for the same company and should work towards the same end goal. It happens the same in cycling, we see someone make it to the podium but they are there thanks to the team that is behind them that were doing everything they could to make that happen.”
So what is Rigo’s leadership style, on and off the bike?
“A leader needs to transmit respect for their teammates, the work they do, and in moments of glory or moments of panic it’s important to have a cool head and not worry too much about the small losses and wins”
And Rigo’s top English phrases when managing the team on the road? Like the Colombian himself, suitably laid-back:
“Guys, stay calm… no stress at the moment…keep going, keep going…”