Elite cyclists’ and sport directors’ perceptions of the Road Captain in Pro Cycling: The hub of the team.


Professional road cycling has been identified as 'an individual sport practiced in teams' (Rebeggiani, 2015, p.49) where success is dependent on a well-functioning team within which members have different roles and responsibilities. Crucial to both good individual and team performance is leadership of the team whilst in the heat of competition, with this responsibility falling to the identified ‘Road Captain’. The aim of this study was to investigate elite riders’ and elite sport directors’ perceptions of the role, responsibilities and qualities required by the road captain in professional cycling teams. Qualitative data were collected from a focus group workshop and semi-structured interviews with eight elite cyclists and six sport directors and subsequently analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. The participants, whilst recruited from a single UCI ranked cycling team, were asked to reflect on their combined 137 years of experience of competing across 30 elite cycling teams. The analysis identified the following qualities and responsibilities as essential in the road captain role: Race smartness: including tactical knowledge, ability to “read” the race, adjustable proactive and thorough knowledge of the course track; Leadership: including role modeling, leading by example, communication, & decision making; Team competence: including caring, supporting, unifying the team and inclusive behaviors; and Personal characteristics: including high work ethic and attitude, high level cycling skills, and self-confidence. An overarching theme was the perception that the road captain was the hub of the team around which the success of the team revolved.