Le Groupthink du Cyclisme

Because I work in education, I know all about the groupthink. The desire for harmony or conformity results in irrational or dysfunctional decision-making: to the maximum extent. As a lifelong contrarian, I always resist the groupthink, which has, natch, made me unpopular among the kind of people for whom the hobgoblin of consistency is an obsession.

Groupthinkers need someone like me heckling from the sidelines, outside the tent pissing in, but they don’t seem to appreciate it.

I’ve spotted a minor (and non-dysfunctional) example of groupthink among the Tour de France cyclists.Richie+Porte+La+Fleche+Wallonne+Cycle+Road+6P7niGIMHrbl

There’s a phenomenon in business, where people of different nationalities get together and the only language they share in common is a kind of simplified English. International Business English. And should an actual English person be present at one of these meetings, the person who understands the least is the English person, because he/she doesn’t speak the lingo.

In cycling, many of the peloton speak or understand a little of the English. Some, like Contador or Nibali, will listen to a question in English, then answer it in Spanish or Italian. Good for them. Others, like Peter Sagan, Andre Greipel or Thomas Voeckler, will answer the question in International Cycling English. A typical answer might go like this:

“It was a good stage, and, er, we worked really hard… and, er, yeah. It was a good stage… yeah. Yeah. And… yeah.”

Or, “It was a hard day today, and, yeah, there were many accidents, and, er, yeah, and I managed to stay out of trouble… yeah. Yeah.”

The yeah acts as a kind of punctuation, a signal to the interviewer that we have reached the end of the English for that particular question.

So the phenomenon I have noted is that, unlike the businessperson who hasn’t bothered to learn International Business English, all of the cyclists, including the English-speaking ones (British, Australian, American, Irish) speak the International Cycling English.

Ask Richie Port a question:

“Yeah… it was a tough stage, really glad it’s over, and… yeah. Yeah.”



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