International Workers

Rider Team Kilometres Raced in 2012
Andrea Guardini Farnese Vini – Selle Italia 6,214km
Cristian Benenati Farnese Vini – Selle Italia 6,015km
Tom Boonen Omega Pharma – Quick Step 5,638km
Luis Leon Sanchez Rabobank 5,586km
David Arroyo Movistar 5,579km
Thomas Voeckler Europcar 5,484km
Kenny Van Hummel Vacansoleil 5,466km
André Greipel Lotto – Belisol 5,451km
Martin Kohler BMC 5,301km
Alessandro Ballan BMC 5,282km

Today is International Workers’ Day and a good time to look at the hardest workers in pro cycling. Thanks to Cycling Quotient we can see who has raced the most this year.

What can we learn from the table above? Well Andrea Guardini is touted as a future rival to Mark  Cavendish. But with over 6,000km in his legs this year from 44 days of racing you wonder how long he will last. Especially since he is on the Giro startlist too. But sprinters do have it easier, if they have to clock up the kilometres then often they’re delivered the finish without having to fetch bottles, pull on the front or do other work. So perhaps Cristian Benenati is the Stakhanov of the 2012 season so far. I suspect Guardini will be on the beach by the end of the month. Either way it’s a good promo for saddle manufacturer Selle Italia.

We should note Guardini has 20% more mileage than Ballan, even amongst the top riders there are big gaps. The top-10 has many recognisable names and suggests that by taking the snapshot today reveals those who have focussed on the early season. Boonen and Ballan for example started early, one in Argentina’s Tour de San Luis and the other with the Tour Down Under. Also if you ride the big races then you get big numbers, doing Milan-Sanremo means 298km whereas most races are 150-200km; add on a few more classics and it adds up.

Plenty will change soon when the Giro starts as the grand tours each offer about 3,000km. Looking back last year Jakob Fuglsang raced 104 days in 2011 but with only one win, instead often riding in support. Perhaps he didn’t need to train much but still, this is a lot when you add on the travel and more.

Today is time for a reminder that whilst we celebrate the winners, cycling remains a team sport. Spare a thought for the rider who goes in the early breakaway or his nemesis who is tasked with pulling on the front of the bunch for hours before the TV cameras are switched on. These worker-bees are called domestiques in French or gregarios in Italian. In addition to those racking up the hours on the bike, there are team staff who will be doing even more. Whilst they have the comfort of the car seat many team staff will have logged far more days of work than the riders listed above.

* Note the CQ website counts only .1 races and more so it is possible some have done even more.

15 thoughts on “International Workers”

  1. Hail to the workers (though it’s actually GREGARI, kind of like giro and giri in Italian) on the cycling teams as well as all the working stiffs worldwide. Fairly quiet today on the island of Ortigia on this holiday morning, though my favorite bread boyz were hard at work. Some things can’t be avoided! We’re off to northern Italy soon to start our tours, while getting excited about the start of La Corsa Rosa. W il Giro!

  2. Pro cyclists are awesome workers, what is that French phrase that describes them as “convicts of the road” (or some thing like that) slips my memory at the moment. I did a couple of 90 + race seasons and was worn out come the October, but it beat shovelling shit! (I was a farm labourer back then) Hat’s off to them indeed.

  3. I was fascinated to see that Cadel Evans only rode 2,327 km compared to Guardini’s 6,214. I loved the Stakhanov reference for today. I wonder how many kms Big Tex rode each year?

  4. I remember when Eric Cantona described, i think, Didier Deschamps as a “water carrier” and everyone was up in arms about him insulting a team mate without appreciating the cycling reference. I’d say it was meant as a compliment and rightly so.

  5. What jumps out at me in the top 10 is that Voeckler has already racked up 5484 km. That’s a lot of mileage for a GC guy who will be vying for a podium spot in the TDF. Does Tommy ever sleep?

    Having perused the CQ, I noticed that two SKY riders who will be starting the Giro have very low ROAD mileage. Ben Swift has 188 km and Peter Kennaugh has 7 km, understanding that these riders have been bringing home some nice track medals!

    My question to INRNG is this: How well are these two SKY riders prepared for three weeks of intense racing with so much climbing when they’ve been putting in the miles on the track? Do they train also for climbing while track racing? (I don’t follow track racing at all)

    Seems to me that the best training for a GT like the Giro is to be in races which involve climbing mileage. Having so little contact with the peloton this season would seem like a detriment to me, especially given that they are both young riders.

  6. Spanish reference here: “gregarios” is indeed Spanish, not Italian. And Luisle Sánchez has a reputation in Spain for being lazy and not suffering enough (which I think is only very, very partially true).
    Still, I am not convinced that 100 competition days a year is a lot. The normal thing should be: 2 GT a year, plus 5-6 one-week stage races, plus your usual 10 or 15 classics and semiclassics. More than that, you can apply for the Stakhanov title, like the heroes who finished the 3 GT in the same year. Let’s not lower the standards, at least until we have proof that racing more often diminishes performance.

  7. I was always impressed with Carlos Sastre’s consistency in GTs. He might not feature in CQ’s stats for most mileage, but he had a string of top 5s in two GTs and in 2010 he pulled off 8, 19 and 8 in all three, which is quite exceptional.

  8. Speaking of recognizing the workers, Stephen Roche chooses today to say that after a crash, “You should be getting back [on your bike] on as fast as possible and then realise your shoulder is broken”. What? Considering the talk about head injuries and what we saw with Chris Horner at last year’s Tour, I’m blown away by this attitude. I actually thought his comments were an April Fools Day thing until I remember it’s May.

    • Hee, hee, ya gotta love Roche. He’s now one of the old guys of the “when I was young we walked to school and it was uphill BOTH ways” mentality. When I read that all I could think of was old Abe Simpson…a cartoon character my wife too often compares me to as well. I do agree with Roche on the radio issue though, while shaking my fist at the clouds! 🙂

  9. It’s interesting to see there are some riders with big results on that list.
    That makes me feel good a little bit. Seems that is how it should be, I think.

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