Peter Post: Cyclist who went on to apply 'total football' principles to team management

 

To claim that one person singlehandedly revolutionised or modernised an institution is a time-worn cliche in journalism, but in the case of Peter Post and cycling team management it happens to be true. Already a successful track cyclist and road-racer before retiring in 1972, Post was the first manager to transfer the concept of "total football", which he had seen working wonders for Ajax, his beloved local side in his home town of Amsterdam, to his own sport.

"Rinus Michels introduced asystem in Ajax where every singleplayer had their own clearly defined role and goals to really work together as a team," Raymond Kerckhoffs,head of cycling journalism in the Netherlands' biggest daily, De Telegraaf, commented. "Peter Post liked that system, and from the word go in his first team, TI Raleigh, he applied 'total cycling'. It was the first, and the best: no other team has ever been so consistently successful."

For TI-Raleigh and then Panasonic, the wins ranged between a minimum of 55 in 1974 and a maximum of120 in 1980, including almost every Classic and the World Championships. The crowning achievement was the 1980 Tour de France: not only did Joop Zoetemelk win the overall classification, but Panasonic picked up a stunning 11 stage wins out of a total of 21. No squad has done the same since.

Thanks to Post's modernising efforts, a corner had been turned. However, der lange [the long one], as Post was nicknamed because of his tallness, became a victim of his own success as the other squads caught on to his secret and began thinking of collective benefits, rather than relying on a "pyramid structure" of a single leader served with often erratic degrees of loyalty and equally unpredictable levels of achievement

Post's teams got smaller and smaller slices of the cake, and to make matters worse, one of his own former riders, Jan Raas, started another leading team on home ground, in the Netherlands. By the time Post retired in 1993, it was whispered that he was happier when Raas' team lost than when his own won.

But his own achievements remained: victory in the Paris-Roubaix 1964 at the fastest-ever average speed for a major Classic – 45.131kmh; 65 wins as a track rider, more than 40 per cent of the races he started inside a velodrome, which earned him the nickname De Keizer van de Zesdaagse [the Emperor of the Six Days] and the single biggest (and arguably the most beneficial) change of direction cycling management has seen.

He was known as a harsh taskmaster, and a section of British cycling fans have never forgiven him for the way he weeded out so many of the UK pros from TI Raleigh in the early 1970s. But rather than be tied to a rigid hierarchy, thanks to Peter Post plenty of young riders got a chance to shine that they would never have got without his modernisation of the sport.



Peter Post, cyclist and team manager: born Amsterdam 12 November 1933; died Amsterdam 14 January 2011.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Multi Skilled Engineer - Electrical / Mechanical / Maintenance

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada