What is a Directeur Sportif (DS)?

What is a Directeur Sportif (DS)?
La Vuelta 2022 - Stage 11 - Elpozo AlimentaciĆ³n

See that fella or gal talking to the rider from the car as the rider casually gets a benefit by holding onto the bottle passed through the window? That's a Directeur Sportif (DS). There's often two DSs in the car along with a mechanic in the back.

DSs will be watching the race from a screen within the car and communicating with the riders via radio with tactics or offering up support. They're often different than the rider's coaches who focus solely on the training of the riders, however DSs can also play a large role in rider's training plans as well. Generally though they're more similar to a head coach in American football, holistically trying to see the bigger picture of the grand tour or one day race. One DS described his job boiling down to:

Having the right plan in place, and coming up with a good set of options, then making sure those scenarios are communicated to the riders so they can execute that strategy during the race.

How many DSs are there per team?

World Tour cycling teams consist on average of nine DSs. There's generally two DS's who are the main leads for the team, similar to a president and vice president. The president will lead the general team strategy for races and the VP will focus more on logistics for the race.

Apart from the DSs there's usually four coaches, twelve mechanics, fourteen soigneurs (massage therapists / on-course helpers), five doctors, four physiotherapists, three chefs, two nutritionists and three bus drivers.

About twelve other people are working in the office. The number of employees and riders is lower in lower-level teams (Pro/1/2).

How do DSs effect tactics?

Often, DSs will offer the strategy up prior and during the race to the riders. But it's not guaranteed the riders will follow it - either do to directly ignoring the communication, or if the radio is shoddy in certain parts of the race (high mountain stages).

DSs are also limited to the information they're getting, either from the video stream (which is sometimes broken), and by the information relayed back from the riders (which is also sometimes broken). So they're guaranteed to mess up or make poor decisions.

How does this effect betting?

It's worth noting the teams who consistently use certain strategies, or for dysfunction amongst the DSs at a team. Movistar used to be all about negative racing and the collaboration between the DSs was poor. This would generally mean Movistar riders were never going to get a 1/2/3 position and hence not worth an E/W bet.

It's also quite well known that DS's hold grudges, specifically against other teams. So might be worth paying attention to some of the gossip every now and again to know when two teams won't work together to catch a break solely because they can't stand each other. šŸ™ƒ