Diversity and Team Performance in the Tour de France

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For cycling enthusiasts, the Tour de France is one of the most meaningful events of the year. The race started in 1903 with 60 competitors riding over 1500 miles. In 2018, the tour includes 21 stages, covering 2082 miles. To put the ride in perspective, the race is longer than the trek from Brownsville, Texas to Toronto, Canada.

Although individuals win the stages and final race, the riders compete in teams, and the teams are ranked, as well. The team members all have different roles, with the ultimate goal of helping the most skilled member win the event.

Recently, two German researchers—Joachim Prinz and Pamela Wicker—examined how diversity characteristics of the race team influence overall performance.

They examined data from 2004 to 2013 and considered a number of team characteristics. These included diversity based on age, nationality, language, tenure on the team, and skills.

Their results showed that various diversity forms had different effects on team performance. Tenure diversity improved performance, suggesting that it is good to have a mix of seasoned and novice riders. Diversity of skills, however, negatively impacted performance. The other diversity dimensions did not impact the success of the team.

Finally, given that there are 21 stages and thousands of miles traversed, it is common for some riders to not complete the race. The researchers found that, as the number of team members who completed the event increased, so too did team performance.

The results show the importance of considering individual characteristics when forming teams. This is true for organizational members and, in this case, cyclists participating in one of the world’s most popular contests.