Cycling's master tactician Johan Bruyneel released a book — “We Might as Well Win” — this week and plans to visit Seattle, Portland, and Corte Madera on his 11-city tour to peddle the tome.
Four of his book signings, including the two in the Pacific Northwest, occur during the Tour de France, July 5 – 27. That won't be a problem for the Belgian directeur sportif for the Astana squad, as the organizers of the Tour have publically stated they won't invite his team.
Of course, the Giro d'Italia officials said also said they wouldn't invite Astana up until a week before that race, when they changed their minds. Astana's Alberto Contador won the Giro last Sunday.
Bruyneel's book was written with Bill Strickland, exec editor of Bicycling magazine. Lance Armstrong also wrote a forward to the book.
The book delves into the mind of the 43-year-old former pro racer, who directed 8 Tour de France championships on US Postal and Discovery Channel, as well as a couple of Giros, a Vuelta a Espana, as well as a smattering of other races.
In the prologue (reprinted at his website), Bruyneel explains that “.. I hate losing more than I love winning.” Then he goes on to tell some of the major strategies of winning multi-day races:
“The strategies used to win a bike race, especially a multiday stage race as opposed to a one-day event, are shockingly simple, and not all that numerous. For instance, once you have a day where you gain some time on your chief opponents, you no longer have to beat them on the following days; you simply shadow them so you do not lose time. The leader wins by being led. There ís no way around that, and your opponents know, so they must attack you, trying over and over to ride away. It ís no secret. Another example: if you're behind in time, you send your second-strongest teammate to the front to attack before you do; if he is successful and rides away from the group, he tries to gain enough time to threaten the leaderís top position, which means the leader must then stop following you and attack — making him vulnerable to fatigue, and to your own attack that will come later. Or, if your teammate gets away but doesn't gain much time, he might soft-pedal, waiting patiently far up the road. When you attack, dragging the leader (who is doing the right thing by following) along with you, you will at some point meet up with your teammate; the two of you can then take turns attacking the isolated leader.
“Everyone in cycling knows and understands these few strategies. The difference is that amid the chaos and speed of a bike race, only a very few people in the world are able to execute them consistently, and at the right time.”
What happens now
So this book comes out after Bruyneel directed Contador to victory at the Giro, and during a lull while they prepare for the Vuelta a Espana in September. Contador is considered one of the favorites in that race.
A win would make Contador the first cyclist in 10 years to win two grand tours in a single year; the last was Italy's Marco Pantani who won the Giro and Tour de France.
And if the high sheriffs of the Tour de France change their minds and invite Astana at the last minute, Dave Luecking at 10-Speed blog says Bruyneel could put together a competitive squad that would include Contador, Levi Leipheimer, and Andreas Kloeden.
Book tour schedule
Of course, Bruyneel would have to change his book signing schedule. Here are the dates for the book tour and details about the NW visit:
June 16, Austin (Armstrong's Mellow Johnny's bike shop, of course)
June 17, Chester County, PA
June 18, Arlington, VA and Washington DC
June 19, Madison, WI, and Chicago
July 7, New York City
July 8, Portland, OR (7:30 p.m., Powell City Books, 1005 W. Burnside)
July 9, Corte Madera, CA (7 p.m., Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)
July 11, Seattle (6 p.m., Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 S. Main St.)
Thanks to T J in Issaquah for the heads up.
Bruyneel image above by ajle at flickr.com.