Garmin TDF roster selection. Fitness, mental puzzles and wardrobe tests.
The Garmin-Sharp Tour de France roster will not be decided until three days before the race, according to rider Johan Van Summeren.
All riders will meet at the team base in Girona, where DS Charlie Wegelius will administer several tests. There will be a fitness test, mental acuity and memory test, a best-dressed competition and in the event of a tie breaker, a round of Russian roulette.
“We have so many good riders this year that we felt we had to take a more unorthodox approach,” said DS Charlie Wegelius. “The fitness test is only a part of the assessment because it’s the Tour. We really need strong, well-rounded athletes with a coordinated fashion sense.”
The mental side of the testing will include a Tour de France trivia quiz, a Words With Friends shootout and a high stakes game of charades.
For team boss Jonathan Vaughters, the charades score will be carefully weighed. “The Tour is chaos and race tactics change from moment to moment,” said Vaughters. “We need riders who can invent and improvise on the fly. At the end of the day, riders who can quickly shift gears mentally are the ones we’re looking for.”
However, several riders are already debating the necessity of a best-dressed competition. “What does that have to do with the Tour?” asked Johan Van Summeren. “It’s crazy. I’m okay with the fitness test but who cares what I’m wearing off the bike?”
Andrew Talansky, set to ride his first Tour de France, isn’t bothered by the wardrobe assessment. “Whatever it takes, you know? I want to be the best rider I can be, the complete package and if that includes a stylish jacket and shoes, that’s what I’ll wear.”
Vaughters was quick to fire back at critics who question the wardrobe portion of the roster selection process. “This is the 100th birthday of the Tour de France. It’s a three week celebration,” said Vaughters. “Do I want to sit down to dinner with guys in casual track suits? No, I don’t. I’ve booked a great hotel and restaurant in Paris and I want my team fully prepared. Socks will be a deciding factor.”
What remains unclear is the ominous-sounding Russian roulette tie-breaker. Team officials were at pains to downplay the possibility of team members passing around a gun with one bullet in the chamber to determine a final roster spot.
“That was just a silly rumor,” said Wegelius. “I think one of the journos got carried away. However, we are doing a game of Twister. It should keep the mood light and it’s a good way to test flexibility.”