5“I preferred being told what to do. It meant I could avoid the pressure and just get on with the job… My tip to domestiques today is to give 110% no matter what. That’s what you’re there to do…And if I didn’t give my all, I’d be out of a job. There was no point whining if someone forgot to say ‘good job Sean’ at the end of a stage.” Sean Yates, Domestique Extraordinaire
When a rider comes up through the ranks in my grassroots program, they arrive with all the skills to win: to think, act, and train like a winner. I think learning how to serve a winner is dependent upon knowing how to win, and it’s often harder to teach service skills than winning skills. Upon graduation to elite development, they’ve earned the right to next learn how to serve.
An elite rider has to flip a switch from me-to-we and learn a new way to approach a race. It’s important to not send any elite rider up to the pros without first teaching them how to be a teammate. One rationale is that there are no neopro stars: no worthy team has a first year pro as the GC leader. So immediately, neopros are called upon for the duties of the domestique.
As kings of customer service, Domestiques have important jobs to perform, and some of these tasks are counter-intuitive for riders accustomed to getting results. This includes sacrificial acts, such as putting yourself in the wind to shield another; instead of finding the sweet spot, herding your captain to it; offensive and defensive moves timed to benefit someone else. Just learning how to set and maintain pace on the front can be startling; where once you sought the right tracks of a fast moving train to advantage, now you are a working part of the engine. Where your focus was once on prudent expenditure, now you are expendable.
Yet the blessings of utter sacrifice are many: pouring out for something bigger than oneself enables many to celebrate in it, adding another dimension of race awareness and value, and increased strength. And if you think only the winners are noticed, think again. Those of us who know the sport are watching who is a great service provider. As the artists of the Assist, you are the real MVP’s and to you we say, great job!
Prayer for Domestiques
“The slain Lamb is worthy! Take the power, the wealth, the wisdom, the strength! Take the honor, the glory, the blessing!” 6Revelation 5:12
We are thankful that cycling provides a picture of self-sacrifice, love’s greatest gift. We confess it’s difficult to have this love motivation when our efforts are at times seemingly unappreciated. Help us give ourselves completely. Help those who benefit express thanks.
Ponder Am I learning to lead by first serving? Affirm I rejoice at the opportunity to minimize another’s suffering. Watch every leader at first a servant.
5“Domestique Bliss,” by Matt Majendie posted July 24, 2003 on www.news.bbc.co.uk
6The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson