What does it really mean to work together as a team?

by Patricia Schwager, ALP Cycles Coaching

For my May blogpost, I chose to write about teamwork. What does it really mean to work together as a team? And what does it require? It isn’t that easy and it takes a while to put a team together that also really works together- in every situation no matter what.

Cycling is an individual- and team-sport. It isn’t a game like soccer or football but it really can become a game of strategy. You might be able to win a local race just because you are super strong but on the pro level, this doesn’t work.

We all know; together you are stronger than alone. However, if not all the riders are fully committed to the team, you can have a very strong team, and still fail. On the other hand, you can achieve great things with a team that really works together, even if the team doesn’t seem the strongest on paper.

Racing for a (pro) team means the team has a plan and strategy on how to win the race. Things that play a role on what that plan is: race profile and type, as well as skills/abilities/fitness of the team riders and the GC situation- if it’s a stage race.

For example, the race plan could be that it is your job be to work early in the race. This means covering attacks or create a breakaway. It can also mean you must ride in the wind all day, if the team has a leader-jersey to defend. Or you might have to save your energy to be fresh for the final and help your leader in the sprint lead-out. If you are a protected rider/ leader, your team mates will work for you. But this also means you have a lot of responsibility to pull off the result in the end.

A very important role in the team, is the Team Captain. Racing without radios makes communication more difficult and communication within the team is super important during a race. The Team-Captain’s job is it to keep things organized in the race, make decisions or change tactics, if getting advice back at the team car isn’t possible.

Whatever job or team role, for that day is, you have to be committed to it 100%. Every team rider has to fulfill their job to make the plan work. You can’t have any thoughts about doing your task at 90% and save some energy to get your own result in the end too.

We all like to achieve good results or win a race. I think the hardest thing to understand about teamwork is that sometimes you really have to sacrifice your own chances in order to make the team-plan work. Of course- roles change from race to race. One time you are the “workhorse” another time you are in the right breakaway and get a chance to win the race yourself.

This might sound strange, but for myself- there is no better feeling than winning a race because of great teamwork. It doesn’t matter if I, or one of my teammates, won the race. Teamwork is one of the facts I like most about cycling!

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Patricia Schwager began cycling in 1998, racing as a junior. After racing on the domestic level and completing her Diploma as Pastry Chef, she got her first pro contract in 2006. 2015 will be here 10th year of professional racing. Patricia has a lot of experience racing in the European peloton. In 2013 she started working with Shawn Heidgen (Current ALP Cycles Coach) as her personal coach. In 2014 she changed her focus to racing in the US. Patricia is a 6 time national Swiss champion and has represented her home country, Switzerland, at the World Championships 12 times.

For 2015, Patricia will race for Team Tibco. Along with racing she’s looking to share and pass on her knowledge in her new role as an ALP Cycles Coach. Visit her online at