Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Johan Bruyneel is a swell guy

On Wednesday night I saw Johan Bruyneel give a talk at Politics & Prose about his new book that just came out, "We Might as Well Win" about his years of working as team director of Lance Armstrong and the Postal/Discovery Cycling Teams. I was impressed by both the casualness of the event and how accessible Johan seemed. Given his huge success over the last decade (8 Tour de France victories as team director in 9 years!) I thought he might come off as a little cocky, but that was not the case at all. The title of Johan's book refers to the moment when he proposed to Armstrong that if the team was going to do the Tour de France, then they might as well win it. No one thought that Armstrong could contend for the overall because he supposedly wasn't a climber...but Johan believed in him and said that once he got Armstrong to that he could be grand-tour winner (the hardest part of the whole process Johan said), the rest just putting the pieces together. The bike critics give Johan's book a decent review, though he does generalize things for non-cyclists. I especially liked hearing Johan talk about Armstrong and his potential as an athlete. A cyclists strength to power ratio basically is the key number that tells you how fast someone can go, but Johan said that Armstrong did not always have the highest ratio on his team. He also said that he thought Jan Ullrich had greater athletic talent than Armstrong but that Armstrong had better strategy and focus. It was pretty cool hearing the opinion on cycling issues from one of the best team directors out there.

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