Lessons from Le Tour

As a keen cyclist I love to watch the big tour races each summer, particularly the Tour de France.  So much so that I’ve even taken my family on “Tour” holidays where we time a holiday in France with a few stages of the race so we can see the riders close up.  One of my favourite professional cyclists is Jens Voight.

Now retired from the professional scene, Jens can now be heard from the safety of the commentary box or giving advice on his website.  Known for his ferocious attacks,  solo break-aways and never give up attitude, I love his story below from the 2010 Tour de France.  Faced with seemingly impossible odds it shows us all why it is important to be resilient and “never give up”.

In the 2010 Tour de France, Jens was riding in support of their team leader who was I the yellow jersey at stage 16.  Things were looking good, the team were well placed but as they crossed the summit of the Col de Peyresourde and started the fast descent, disaster struck.  Jens heard a loud bang as his front tyre blew and thought “this is going to hurt” as he crashed hard.  He got back up and followed the typical bike rider routine after a crash.  First he checked his bike – no good news there.  Broken beyond repair.  Worse news, the team car had already passed so no spare bike any time soon.

Jens took a moment to check his body and although he was bleeding and torn, he was still in one piece.  However, without a bike it was rapidly looking like this would be the end of his Tour.

After receiving some quick medical attention, he realized that all the other had now passed him and he was stone last.  He then spotted the “broom wagon”, the vehicle that’s comes along at the back of the race to pick up abandoned riders.  That was the point where he thought, “No Way” am I getting in there.  Never.

He looked around the spectators and saw a car with 3 bikes on the roof rack at the side of the road.  He asked the drover if he could borrow one and then spent the next 13 miles on a kids bike chasing the peleton.  Picture the scene – after years and years of dedicated practice, he finds himself stone last in the biggest race in the world, on a borrowed kids bike.  You couldn’t make this up.

Eventually the team car realized what had happened and left a reserve bike down with a police officer standing at one of the crossing points.  Jens eventually made it to the police officer, got his replacement bike and managed to finish the stage.

A great example of resilience, and a never give up attitude.  Sometimes mind over matter really works, even when all the odds are seemingly stacked against you.

So next time you face a challenge at work, think about doing the Tour de France on a borrowed kids bike!

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