Cycling Parallels

2nd Jan 2019

For those of you who read last year’s IST bulletin to the end (well done by the way!) we explained how a number of us here at PMN enjoy playing golf. This year, Mark has spent rather less time on the golf course and more time on two wheels cycling around Hayling Island and the surrounding area.

This culminated in Mark riding “L’Etape du Tour” in early July 2018. Last year’s Etape provided amateur riders with the opportunity to ride the 169 kilometre route from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, replicating the 10th stage of the Tour de France (which happened just 9 days later). Full details of the route can be found here:

Another ride of almost equivalent brilliance took place last year on stage 19 of the Giro D’Italia. At the start of the stage, Chris Froome was in 4th place, approximately 3 minutes behind the 2017 champion Tom Dumoulin and a further 28 seconds behind race leader Simon Yates. By the end of the day, Froome had won the stage and taken a 40 second lead in the overall race, a lead which he would maintain to the end, thereby completing the Grand Tour hat-trick of the Tour De France, Giro D’Italia and Vuelta Espana. Once again, we will try to draw some parallels with the world of financial planning!

The BBC have an excellent article which details how the stage was won and the planning that took place: but in summary, the key part of the day was the ascent up the 2.7 kilometre high Colle Delle Finestre. Team Sky (for whom Froome rides) had ridden the mountain as part of a training exercise the year before. Froome’s coach described the ride as “the worst day I’ve ever had on a bike” and concluded “if you have a bad day on that mountain you can lose a lot of time”.

The night before the stage, Team Sky’s management met to finalise the tactics for the next day’s stage. They had a clear objective: to get Froome to the top of the Colle Della Finestre on his own. They then devised a plan to do this, breaking the ascent into 2 sections. The first part of the plan would put all of Team Sky’s riders at the front of the peloton with the aim of spreading the field across the 27 hairpins that start the climb.

The second part of the plan was for Froome to complete the final 8 kilometres of the ascent on his own. They calculated the times Froome would need to cycle each section in and translated this into the carbohydrates required to provide enough energy. To achieve this Team Sky arranged to have people at 10-minute intervals handing out sufficient food and water to sustain Froome for the next 10-minute section. This process continued all the way up the remaining 8km and the frequency of the refuelling meant that everybody in the team, from press offices, mechanics and security needed to be used to hand out food and water.

The next day, Froome, his team mates, and all of the Sky Team put the plan into action and executed it perfectly producing “one of the most dramatic days of sport in recent memory” (Tom Fordyce – BBC Chief Sports Writer, 06/06/2018).

So, what can we learn?

It maybe tenuous, but our recommended retirement planning strategy has a number of parallels.

  1. Set a clear objective: without this your planning has no focus.
  2. Devise a clear plan: giving you a greater chance of meeting your objective.
  3. Plan ahead: as with Team Sky, the best time to plan your retirement is well in advance. It may have seemed that this was about the final 8 kilometres of the climb but the planning took place 12 months before.
  4. Involve experts in your planning: Team Sky’s pre-stage meeting involved their team manager, performance manager, logistics manager, team nutritionist, sports director and Froome’s coach. You probably won’t need quite that level of support but a good financial planner, together with good accountants and lawyers, working together, can help create a plan, ensure tax efficiency and consider any future legal issues.
  5. Break your retirement into smaller sections: for Chris Froome, that was 10-minute sections of the climb. For your retirement, we like to think in five-year time frames.
  6. Ensure you can fuel each section: for Froome this meant enough carbohydrates, so he didn’t run out of energy putting his objective under serious threat. For you, this will mean having enough cash to ensure you can fund the next five-year period, and that your retirement planning strategy is sustainable.
  7. Communication: just as Froome was in regular contact with his support team to understand his progress against the plan, so to should you be. By meeting at least annually, we can ensure you are on track and have sufficient funds in place to live the lifestyle you choose.
  8. Wear lycra: actually, that’s enough of the parallels, let’s leave that to Mark
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