Lukas Pöstlberger, as of now most of us will think of him as the winner of the first stage of the 2017 Giro D’Italia. Personally, the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear that name is ‘one of the classiest cyclists I’ve ever seen’.
Pöstlberger won the 2015 An Post Ras, my first Ras. Everything that man did just oozed class. He never seemed to be under pressure, he never lost his temper, he was respectful to everyone and just came across as a nice guy in every interview he did. It was hard not to like him.
I’m not sure if class comes with age, experience or it’s something you’re born with. Unfortunately not everyone has it; I’ll admit that includes me! Most of us have that moment during a race when we’ll get a bit hot headed or do something stupid that you will immediately regret after.
The best we can do is take note of what the classy riders do and apply it as best week can. In my time I’ve see some classy moves and try to apply them as much as I can in an effort to be less of a gobshite in the bunch.
Laying a hand on another rider is rarely a good idea. It’s often unsafe or unwanted. However, have you ever been in that position when you can’t close the final few meters to the wheel on front of you? I think we all have. If you’re ever in the position that you are strong enough and sitting behind a rider struggling to close a small gap a gentle push to help them close the last few meters will gain the respect of many!
We see the pro’s doing it on TV at pretty much every race; throwing bidons and empty wrappers away without a care in the world. This is one of the times the ‘do what the good lads do’ rule doesn’t apply.
However, I’ve recently seen a few pros stuff their wrappers in the rails of their saddles instead of littering. Now that has class written all over it!
As a wise man once said “if you can take it out of your pocket, you can put it back in”. At an amateur level its often the race organisers that have to deal with the consequences of littering during a race, so avoid it as much as possible.
No matter how much you try to avoid it, there will always be a bit of rough and tumble in cycling. 200 riders are always aiming to be at the front. Bumping into other riders is almost guaranteed during a race and how a rider deals with that says it all. If you do receive a bump, it’s unlikely that it was intentional so there is no reason to react. If you accidentally bump someone else, a slight apologetic wave behind will immediately defuse the situation and make sure you don’t make any enemies in the bunch.
If you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all
Bike races can be frustrating. Often nothing goes your way; you can’t get in the breakaway, you get boxed in in a sprint etc.
No matter what happens keeping your cool is essential. A common occurrence in Irish racing is a rider shouting another to ride harder in a breakaway. Nine times out of ten they physically cant and shouting will do nothing but put you in their bad books.
Stay classy and if you want to say anything tell them to hang in and do a turn when they can.
It’s nice to be nice
Racing rarely goes to plan. You can lose a race over a bike throw, a mechanical, someone letting a wheel go etc. But being gracious in defeat goes a long way. Congratulating someone that has just beaten you fair is a hard pill to swallow but trust me making friends instead of enemies in this sport will go a long way.
We all do this sport because we enjoy it. Making an effort to be a respectful and classy bike rider will go a long way in making sure we all enjoy the sport a little bit more.