Directeur Sportif School

The UCI is apparently holding a training course for directeur sportifs. I can’t help feel that trying to teach men in their 40s how to do their job is going to be a very difficult task. Can you imagine Johan Bruyneel or Patrick Lefevere to learn new tricks?

But this isn’t a small scheme, it’s meant to cover everyone. The UCI says “all Directeurs Sportifs will be obliged to obtain the course diploma (by 2013 for UCI ProTeams and 2015 for UCI Professional Continental Teams)“.

A good DS will support his riders

The course could potentially offer some ideas but like I say, I’m skeptical whether a day or two of flipcharts and Powerpoint slides can really teach a pack of old dogs any new tricks. That said, there seems to be a lot than can be learned, many a DS gets behind the wheel after a lengthy career on the bike but this leaves them unprepared for the management and administration involved, yet alone the the business and communication skills needed. But for me it’s the sponsors who need to demand competence by backing a credible manager, a short course and a diploma might not be enough.

Be a winner
Still here’s a take on the essential skills needed by a DS:

  • Rally driving: to get the diploma DSs will be assessed on their driving skills, including kerb hopping and driving for 200km with only one hand on the steering wheel.
  • Tactics: the right call in the closing moments of a race makes the difference between winning and losing. And call is the word, a DS needs to know which rival teams to call and how much to bid for the win.
  • What works: Almost every DS has had an impressive career on the bike, a stack of races won without a powermeter in sight. So it’s important to ensure today’s riders are instructed in the winning ways that worked so well in the past and not swayed by science and other distractions.
  • Weasel words: things go wrong from time to time. Should scandal hit the team, a good DS will leave a press conference with more unanswered questions than when the event began.
  • Sponsorship: make your own Powerpoint document that turns a dramatic and heroic sport into a dull pitch that will leave corporate marketing departments laughing after you’ve left the room.
  • Admin: how to cherry-pick the UCI rules, good excuses to explain paperwork blunders and for advanced DS methods to pay your riders late and overpay for mediocre riders.