OM in the News: Behind The Tour de France
The large behind-the-scenes operations which support a football World Cup or Formula One racing team are well-known, but a Tour de France team also needs major support, reports BBC News (July 6, 2014). “A Tour de France team is like a large traveling circus,” says the coach of the Belkin team. “The public only sees the riders but they could not function without the unseen support staff.” The base to the team’s cycling pyramid includes everything from osteopaths to mechanics, from logistics staff to PR people. Their task is to ensure that riders are in peak physical, nutritional and psychological condition. This can mean deciding which snack bars to give the cyclists before, during and after race stages, while ensuring there are scientifically-based cooling regimes in place for the riders. The team’s huge truck, coach, 3 vans and 5 cars resemble the sort of traveling convoy more associated with an international music act. Here are just some of the supplies the project management team for Belkin handles:
- 11 mattresses
- 36 aero suits, 45 bib shorts, 54 race jerseys, 250 podium caps
- 63 bikes
- 140 wheels, 220 tires
- 250 feeding bags, 3,000 water bottles
- 2,190 nutrition gels, 3,800 nutrition bars
- 10 jars of peanut butter, 10 boxes of chocolate sprinkles, 20 bags of wine gums, 20 jars of jam
- 80 kg of nuts, raisins, apricots and figs, plus 50 kg of cereals
The OM behind a world-tour team is complex: These top teams often compete in 2-3 races simultaneously, in different countries and sometimes on different continents. Each team has 25-35 riders (9 compete in any single race), coming from different parts of the world, going to different races at different times, each with his own physique and strengths. They have customized bikes, uniforms, and food preferences. The support staff can include another 30 people.
Classroom discussion questions:
1. Why is project management important to a racing team?
2. Why does each team have 9 riders in one race?