Since then, I’ve traded the hybrid for a road bike, ride 2 or 3 times a week, have swapped the tennis shorts for lycra and have become somewhat of a cycling fanatic. Not only is the Tour de France compulsory late night viewing, but also the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta Espana and various one day classics.
My growing fascination with the Tour de France (TDF) and other professional bike races has led me to appreciate the intricacies of road racing – especially the different tactics, team selections and roles of different riders in the peloton.
Not only are there different ‘races’ happening within the race itself, there are different race strategies being implemented depending on the type of riders in the team. One type of rider is the sprinter. He is normally a strong rider with explosive speed who is able to launch his sprint out of the bunch for a stage win on flatter courses (e.g. Andre Griepel, Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish)
Then there is the climber. These guys are lightweight mountain goats who have huge stamina levels that mean they can go up long steep climbs real at real pace. Alberto Contador, Nairo Quinatana, Chris Froome are the best climbers around and are normally the guys who take the overall win in the grand tours, like the TDF.
Puncheur’s are more alrounders who can punch up short steep climbs with a short explosive burst and sprint to victory from a reduced bunch (e.g. Philippe Gilbert, Simon Gerrans, or Alejandro Valverde).
It’s all well and good to have climbers, sprinters and puncheur’s going for the victory, but every team needs a number of riders who can help their #1 guy get the victory – and these riders are called domestiques.
The role of the domestique is to work for their lead rider. They ride in front of their leader to protect him from the wind, helping him to save energy. They go back to the team car to get any drinks, gels, and clothing he needs. They will give him their wheel or even their whole bike if he has a mechanical problem. They will chase down breaks by opposition riders. In short they will sacrifice themselves all for the sake of their lead rider. Some domestiques are good enough to be the #1 rider but they sacrifice their own ambition to ride in the service of another; these guys are called ‘super domestiques’. Riders like Michael Rogers, Richie Porte and Luke Durbridge are domestiques for their teams.
As I was watching all this play out in the recent TDF, it got me wondering, if Jesus was a cyclist, then what would he be?
Many people might think Jesus would be a sprinter. After all, he was a carpenter’s son, so he would have been strong. But the nature of Jesus mission was not fast and furious. He came to run a race that that goes for eternity.
Maybe he would he have been a climber? After all these guys are the winners of the grand tours. As God the Son, he would certainly deserve to be the teams #1 rider and designated leader to go for glory.
But as I thought about it was obvious that rather than being a sprinter or climber or puncheur, Jesus would most definitely have been a domestique. Here’s why ...
- Like a domestique, Jesus sacrifices himself for others. He puts his ambitions and desires to the side and serves the needs of others. While domestiques will do it riding into the wind or chasing down a breakaway, Jesus sacrifices himself on a cross.
- Domestiques serve their team leader at great cost – they smash themselves for him; they sacrifice their own chances of victory to enable victory of their leader; they get no glory for themselves because it goes all to their #1 guy. This is what Jesus did. He saved people for eternal life and it cost him his life, and he did it so those who trust in him can have the victory of eternal life.
- Even though domestiques don’t win the stages, they still have to climb all the mountains to ensure they can stay in the race and they often do it carrying extra drink bottles and energy gels for their leader. Jesus also had to climb a mountain. Not a mountain in the French Alps, but a mountain outside Jerusalem. He wasn’t carrying drink bottles and energy gels but a wooden cross on which he would be crucified.
When you look at the life of Jesus, his whole mission in life was to sacrifice himself for others. As Jesus says about himself in Mark 10:45
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
He didn’t come for his own glory, he came for his Father’s glory. He glorified him by dying for sinners to take the judgment they deserved. He came not so he could have the victory, he came so those who trust in him could have the victory. And even though he is God the Son who deserves all our honour and praise, he gave up that right and came not to be served, but to serve us.
It made me realise that if life was a bike race, Jesus came so that weekend warriors like you and me who plod along on Saturday mornings in our lycra, could win the ‘TDF of life’. In doing so we will stand on the victory dias – not in Paris, but in heaven. When we trust in our ‘super domestique’, then our victory is guaranteed. Not because we worked and trained and earned our eternal victory, but because Jesus sacrificed himself on a mountain to set up the victory for us.
So if Jesus was a cyclist, I’m convinced he’d be a ‘super domestique’. Just like every team needs a super domestique if they’re ever going to win the TDF, so you and I desperately need Jesus if we’re ever going to win the prize of eternal life.
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