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Say What? Tour Speak Demystified

Like other sports, bicycle racing has its own, specialized vocabulary. As you follow the Tour on TV, online or in the sports pages, you're likely to come across the following cycle racing terms:

Attack: A sudden, high-speed break from the main pack.

Breakaway: A rider or group of riders that has gained distance on the peloton.

Bridge a Gap: Catching a rider or group that has moved out ahead of the peloton.

Caravan: The support vehicles that accompany a race.

Chasers: Riders who attempt to catch a breakaway group or lead rider.

Domestique: A rider who works for the benefit of his team and its leader by bringing water and food from team cars and shielding teammates from riders on opposing teams.

Drafting: Riding closely behind another rider to take advantage of the slipstream.

Drop: To pass another rider.

Echelon: An angled or staggered paceline employed in crosswinds to provide maximum draft for each rider.

Feed Zone: A designated area where riders can take on food and liquids.

Field Sprint: The sprint to the finish line by the main group of riders.

Flamme Rouge: The red flag or pennant used to mark the last kilometerof a stage. In the Tour de France, this is usually replaced by a large inflatable advertising arch.

Force the Pace: To increase speed to make the peloton ride at a faster pace.

Gap: The time or distance between a rider or group of riders and another rider or group of riders.

General Classification: The overall standings in a stage race. Also refers to the group of top riders from all of the Tour teams.

Leadout: A race tactic in which a rider rides at his maximum speed to assist a teammate riding in his slipstream. As they near the finish line, the drafting rider uses his momentum to slingshot past the lead rider.

Lieutenant: A super-domestique, called upon during demanding periods of a stage to help set or maintain the pace for the team leader and shield him from attacks by competitors.

Off the Back: Refers to riders who have fallen behind the main group.

Paceline: A group drafting formation in which each successive rider takes a turn at the front before pulling off and dropping to the rear.

Peloton: The main group of riders in a race.

Prologue: A short race or time trial held on the first day of a stage race.

Sit on a Wheel: To ride in another cyclist's slipstream. To draft.

Time Trial (TT): A race against the clock in which riders start at set intervals.

UCI: Union Cycliste Internationale The world governing body of bicycle racing.


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