I find professional athletes – cyclists in particular – an impressive bunch. They are hard, disciplined people who ply their trade in some of the most atrocious conditions imaginable. To become professionals, they have to be good at what they do, and smart enough to learn how to continue succeeding despite the gaps between the top of the sport continually narrowing. They have to learn to live right and train right. They have to listen to their coaches. They have to learn to control their mind and to override the signals their bodies are sending. They need to be smart enough to read an ever-changing race and smell the right moment to make their move; disaster and glory can be separated only by a split-second reaction born out of intuition mixed with experience and intelligence.
But the best athletes are also a little bit dumb. Men like Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, or Tom Boonen; these are the men who flog themselves for hours on end and, when their bodies are about to break, dial it up a notch and lay it all out on the road. A smarter man would, under those circumstances, say, “You know what? This is nice, but I can also go less hard.”