What is a directeur sportif? Think head coach in football or manager in baseball, and you’re on the right track. But the guiding hands of professional cycling do much more than just stand on the sideline and bark out plays.
For starters you need to be an excellent driver, able to comfortably negotiate steep mountain roads surrounded by fast moving cyclists. It also helps if you can drive one-handed, making it easier to pass bottles or food out the window.
Language skills are another plus. It’s not uncommon for a cycling team to have riders from at least 2-3 different countries. Coaching skills and tactical savvy are also key. Typically the DS will draw up a rider’s race plan for the season and then help them prepare via a training plan. Come race day, the DS will often be the one making the calls of when to chase, attack or sit-up.
And of course you better be organized. Professional cycling has a litany of moving parts — vehicles, equipment, food, drink and the riders themselves. It’s the job of the directeur sportif to make sure all these things get to where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there.
For more on this most important of roles in the professional peloton, check out this video from our friends at the Global Cycling Network.