06 November 2011

Word of the Day: stagiaire

Stagiaire: French term for trainee

Stagiaire definition: trainee, intern.
My definition: opportunity

As daylight savings time in the United States falls back, I am reminded that the fall season of professional cycling is also coming to a close. Every fall, numbers of young cyclists hope for their shot at the big leagues. In the world of professional cycling, teams accept stagiaires every fall to fill the roster during late season races, to test the waters, and to see how the athlete both performs and fits in with team dynamics.

The stagiaire process is a vital part of adding new young riders to a professional cycling team. It is the opportunity for young riders to prove themselves. Almost every ProTeam takes on at least one stagiaire in the fall. If the trial period works out, the young rider is commonly signed for the next year. The outcome depends on how the rider demonstrates his perseverance, personality, team participation, mental toughness and racing prowess.

Andy Schleck was selected as a stagiaire for the 2004 CSC team even though his brother Fränk was already on the team. The process proved that the younger brother was ready to join the team the following season. Most often the young rider remains with the team who offered the apprenticeship. Sometimes the rider jumps to another team last minute. In 2010 Taylor Phinney was a stagiaire for Radioshack, although he finally signed with the BMC team for the 2011 race season. Sometimes it takes awhile for the team to hire the rider, Philippe Gilbert rode as a stagiaire with the FDJeux team in late 2000 but was not hired as a full time rider until the 2003 season.

Other well-known stagiaires from past seasons: 
Jesse Sergent - Radioshack 2010
Ben Swift - Barloworld 2007
Mark Cavendish - T-Mobile 2006
Fränk Schleck - CSC-Tiscali 2002
Fabain Cancellara - Mapei-Quickstep 2000
A few of the stagiaires this season (2011): 
Rüdiger Selig - Leopard Trek
George Bennett - Radioshack 
Dale Parker - Radioshack  
Barry Markus - Vacansoleil 
and many more ...

Christian Meier's account of his Life as a Team Garmin-Chipotle Stagiaire ... "There was definitely a bit of awe for me".

We can thank those stagiaires who filled in late season allowing their teammates to begin their race seasons as early as March and remain strong through the Grand Tours.

Photo revised from VeloNews

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