The Way Of The Domestique: 5 Thoughts For Your Company

The culture of the domestique in professional cycling is a strong one.  The very best champions and their teams know that their ultimate success depends on having a cadre of riders who can support their lead rider to cross the finish line first.  What domestiques provide may be instructive to each of us in our own companies:

  • Domestiques create a slipstream of air that allows leaders to conserve their energy while maintaining a competitive racing pace.
  • Domestiques attempt to shield champions form injury and when there is a crash, they help the ride return to the peloton (lead race group).
  • Domestiques bring food and water to the team leader, especially later in the race when slowing down could provide an advantage to the competition.
  • Domestiques may become further specialized to aid their lead sprinter win a bunch sprint at the end of the race.
  • Domestiques sometimes get their chance in a race, finding their great champion supporting them to take a well-deserved victory.

After reading each of these examples you can probably identify someone, somewhere in your organization who helps you and others to win on a daily basis.  They may be recognized or they may not be seen, but they are critical to your success.

Jose Luis Arrieta, the long-time domestique for the great Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain, was often lauded for his efforts by Indurain and others for his efforts.  At the end of his career he was thankful for the opportunity, saying simply that, “You grow in the service of sacrifice.”  True victory requires everyone to contribute and there is no more eloquent way to say it.

Note:  Much thanks to Matt Hatfield for his inspiration on the joy and satisfaction of being a domestique.