Championship Quality: Self-Denial

Few Enter In

Ivan Dominguez

Ivan Dominguez


When I go to race, I never say I’m going to win. It’s hard for me to say that kind of stuff…This is great for the team…” 1          Ivan Dominguez, Winning Pro 



Now in the heart of racing season, we become fixed on winning. Most lands host national championships in June and then the Tour de France, the gold standard of cycling – occupies July. So for weeks, these blog entries will celebrate what it takes to win.

Everybody wants to win but few want it bad enough to enter in to the crème de la crème of conditions that yield victory. To be a winner comes at great cost and few are willing to count it. The first major price of champion pursuits is self-denial. Self-denial in this context is a two-part concept: giving up what’s good in pursuit of what’s best in one’s self-interest; as well as a real sacrifice of self-interest for singleminded focus on the benefits to others. A winner must capture both aspects of this concept and switch between the two appropriately.

The first form of self-denial can be seen in everything from diet, to strategic self-control – not going with that particular breakaway in favor of waiting for the right mix for instance, to lifestyle choices that protect training and recovery time, to the proper use of physical prowess.

The other-centered form of self-denial occurs as both a team culture and as motivation. In a team situation, self-denial is a quality that every member of a stellar team must employ according to the race situation. As a motivational factor, superlative performances have come from what a good ride could mean for another. A perfect example of this was seen in Carlos Sastre’s work for Frank Schleck while in yellow in the 2008 Tour de France. Carlos’ early attack in the beginning up L’Alpe d’Huez to protect Frank – not expected to succeed – caught all competitors unawares and was a sacrifice which earned him yellow. In another example, a champion dominated a series so earnings could finance a family member from factory to entrepreneur. This rider earned a huge bonus never used personally – true champion self-denial!


Prayer for Self-Denial

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” 2Luke 9:23


We confess that a few minutes outside of self is our limit at times. We pray for opportunities to practice self-denial as a winning quality.

Ponder Can I discover situations where others benefit from what I do with my bike? Affirm I see my physical endowment as spiritual gifts requiring sacrifice and generosity. Watch out for the interests of others and hold yourself accountable to a higher and nobler standard.


1Breakaway April 21, 2008 DAILY EDITION Issue 12 Tour of Georgia enewsletter. Ivan Dominguez, Toyota United Pro Cycling Team and Stage 1 winner knows about self-denial. He changed home base from Cuba to America to realize his dream to race professionally.


2The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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