The Curious Role of the Cycling Domestique

There is no “I” in “team” – you will recognise this motivational saying often posted on office noticeboards and sport’s locker rooms. The sentiment, of course, is that the team is more important than the individual and a classic working example is in cycling.

Professional cyclist’s spend a lot of time and effort pushing aside the air in front of them. It is exhausting work and riding in the slipstream of another rider is easier than taking the lead.

The difference in the effort required between the front rider and whoever is tucked in behind gives a huge speed advantage. Racers have known this from the start and have ridden accordingly, often sharing the lead between them. It didn’t take long for the top teams to start employing riders whose sole purpose was to help the ‘important’ riders win. Now they have teams of domestiques and tactics can get complicated. One thing that has not changed is that the domestiques final placing is far less important than the help he gives to the stars of the team.

Three times Tour de France winner Chris Froome rode as a domestique for Sir Bradley Wiggins back in 2012 so occasionally they do break out from their crucial role in the shadows to bask in the heat of the spotlight but most do not share the fame of their leaders. Sometimes they do get a chance to win stages and if their standings do not threaten them then stars often won’t chase domestiques if they decide to break away.

Experts say that team tactics win or lose races. It is the cycling ‘foot soldiers’ who give their services for a higher cause and who seal victory by using their energy to tactically block opponents. In the modern era it is very rare for someone to win a major race without the help of a domestique or two.

Michael Barry, a Canadian cyclist and sometime domestique to Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins is quoted in an article in the Daily Telegraph as saying:

“The team director plans a strategy for the stage and each of the riders has a specific role to play. For example, some domestiques will be saved for later in the day. They will stay on the wheels of their team-mates all day and then attack hard towards the finish to split up the race and put the leader in a position to win the race. Other domestiques are involved earlier on in the race, keeping the leader protected, making sure he is well-fed, swapping wheels if he has a puncture, or helping him back to the front after he stops for a pee. The main thing is just how big a factor drafting is within cycling: conserving energy is always crucial. If the strongest rider in the race wastes his energy, he won’t win.”

In this age of superlatives we welcome the super domestique. These are the more experienced and more trusted lieutenants that will be called on at crucial stages in a race. Some riders will use particular trusted teammates to set a pace during mountain stages of the Tour de France before a decisive attack.

Sean Yates, an English cyclist, manager and Cycling Hall of Fame member says “My tip to domestiques today is to give 110% no matter what. That’s what you’re there to do. “ Like worker bees protecting the Queen, this selfless team approach is also how PEA sees its’ role.

When writing about business it is appropriate to use sport as a metaphor. Both disciplines are about achievement and success and it’s human nature to want to be the best and beat the competition.

Our role
PEA specialises in boutique fund administration to alternative fund structures. We are not looking for the spotlight. Like the domestique our job is to deliver clients exactly what they want and need – no more no less. Our people provide an unparalleled service to a growing group of highly sophisticated clients. Those clients are some of Europe’s most highly regarded Private Equity, Real Estate and Infrastructure Fund Managers and their stakeholders.

Our team involves different people in different jurisdictions with different skills working together to maximize efficiency and reach a common goal – the provision of adaptable solutions to the operational challenges that our clients businesses face.

We are highly innovative with technical challenges, consult with you and your advisors in plain English, deliver your needs every time on time, use technology to grow your business, cut your costs and drive change.

Albert Einstein said ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.’ At PEA we can be your super-domestique, push the air in front of you aside and make your journey as effective and successful as possible.

For more details on how we can help you please contact us on +44 1481 730988

by Peter Toyberg

Peter Toyberg Private Equity Administrators

Peter Toyberg is Group Managing Director of PEA and holds an MSc in Economics from Copenhagen Business School and has extensive experience in the management of private equity funds. Peter specialises in technical fund structuring, tax reviews, AIFMD, turn-key back office services solutions, and depositary solutions. He is also a very keen cyclist.

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