Routines and rituals: what makes the BORA – hansgrohe team tick
We all have our routines and rituals. We embed them in our daily lives as they make many things easier. Whether it’s taking a moment to yourself, tackling tasks in a particular order, or just having little eccentricities – routines and rituals give us certainty and confidence. This is important for the guys on the BORA – hansgrohe team, too, and helps them to give it their all. Their daily training and racing schedules are filled with routines, but the Band of Brothers also have a few little hidden quirks, too.
BORA – hansgrohe / Anderl Hartmann
BORA – hansgrohe / veloimages.com
BORA – hansgrohe / Ralph Scherzer
The theory of routine and ritual
‘Routine’ means a regular sequence of actions. The more frequently you perform a particular task in your work or personal life, for instance, the more you learn it, improve it and become more confident with it. Things become a habit and are eventually seen as a normal part of your life. Routines are proven to boost performance, while rituals are linked to superstitions associated with a particular action. Rituals such as wearing a lucky charm give people something to focus on and boost their confidence. Rituals can also put people off their stride if something disrupts them, such as being unable to perform them as usual. That’s why there is the idea that people control their routines, but rituals control people. If someone forgets their good luck charm, it can sow doubt and unease as they rely on it to feel secure. Similarly, we need to review our routines constantly so that we can stay flexible and have room to develop.
Daily racing routines
That’s enough of the theory. Cycling teams have plenty of routines and rituals in their daily racing schedules that give them reassurance. The events surrounding races are planned out so that riders can focus on their performance. Get up, eat breakfast, pack, head off to the race start, have a briefing about race tactics, change into the kit on the bus, warm up, have a little refreshment, and then we’re off! This always happens in the same order so that the cyclists can concentrate on the race. They may then listen to music shortly before the start to get them pumped up. Lukas Pöstlberger is in charge of music on the bus, and he’s always up for a little dance. Ryan Mullen also has special playlists tailored to the plans for a stage. The riders also pin on their start numbers on the bus, but they make sure not to do it in the wrong order (Felix Großschartner does right then left) or at the wrong time (Jai Hindley never does it the night before). And you won’t catch Patrick Konrad or Luis Lührs at the starting line without their lucky bracelets. They always have the same routine after the race, too: a recovery shake at the finishing line, a shower, their first solid food, massage, evening meal and then more physiotherapy or massaging if they need it. And all of this is neatly scheduled.
Coffee – an elixir in cycling
The BORA – hansgrohe guys also have some rituals when it comes to food and drink. Sam Bennett always needs to have scrambled eggs or omelette on toast with avocado and a bowl of porridge before the race. Many of his teammates share his love of porridge in various forms. Virtually every rider has a morning coffee, which Nils Politt, Matthew Walls and others really revel in. Patrick Gamper needs a coffee with his breakfast, such as a cappuccino, and then it’s espresso for the rest of the day. But some riders can manage without one: milk is the pre-race drink of choice for youngest team member Cian Uijtdebroeks. He says that he has no power without it. When it comes to daily training routines, Danny van Poppel gives his home a quick tidy and checks that all doors and windows are closed every time he leaves for a training session. This means he can set off without any worries and feel good about coming home after a hard day’s training. Nothing is left to chance, but if a little bit of luck is needed, Lennard Kämna finds reassurance in a relevant saying and literally knocks on wood.
Preferring to stay flexible
Not everything has to be made a routine and scheduled down to the last minute, however. Ide Schelling likes it when every day is different, and you have the space to discover new things. Whether he’s training on a Dutch beach in winter or looking at what’s in his fridge: he needs variety. Matthew Walls also likes to take each day as it comes and go with the flow. After all, you can’t control everything. Marco Haller is not superstitious either, instead his approach is a mix of experience and curiosity so he can stay flexible. Not believing in rituals or having very few routines can be very beneficial: you stay independent and open to new things, which is vital for your development as a person and as an athlete. As is so often the case, you need to find a healthy mix. There is one ritual that the Band of Brothers shares, however. The whole team gets together after each race to raise a toast, with a chorus of the famous drinking chant ‘zicke zacke, zicke zacke’. This is one ritual that definitely only has upsides!
Watch our video to find out which other rituals are important before the race, how Sam Bennett pushes himself and what gets Ryan Mullen really fired up: