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Tour de France

posted by DL Byron on July 02, 2004

The Tour de France has never been this hyped and starts tomorrow. 7 Americans in the race, Lance’s record breaking attempt, Sheryl Crow, strong competitors, live TV coverage, and much more. My prediction is for T-Mobile and Uhlrich or Tyler and Phonak, with Lance on the podium, but not winning. Here’s a set of Tour links:

There’s also a Tour Happy Hour, from 5-7, at the Summit Public House (206-324-7611) in Capital Hill.


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Comments

Jul 02  |  doug said:

Thanks for the links, Byron. But I think it would be interesting to N. American readers if you could briefly explain how cycling teams work. I bet most people think that Lance competes in this race solo. Most people who don’t follow the sport don’t understand the team concept of competitive cycling.

Maybe you could briefly break down the scoring system for those who don’t follow the sport outside of the Tour de France.

Jul 03  |  -b- said:

That’s a good question. Cycling is very much a team sport. For reference, see the Cyclingnews.com FAQ.

Cycling is very much a team sport. You can think of like a football team, with the goal of moving the ball down the field, toward the end zone. A cycling team’s goal is to get their leader to the end of the race, with the lowest expired time, which puts him at the top of the General Classification (GC).

A team consists of stars and domestiques. “Domestiques are the worker bees of a team, responsible for looking after the team leader and the other stars. Domestiques ferry food and water to their team leaders, provide a wheel for the leader to follow and in extreme cases even surrender their bikes if the leader has a mechanical problem.” The stars are climbers, sprinters, or ride for GC, like Lance. In a race like the Tour, the leader is a well-rounded rider that can climb and time trial. The team’s main purpose is to protect the leader, so he saves all of his energy to attack an opponent in the mountains and be fresh for the time trials.

The domestiques can be climbers, to help their leader in the mountains, a Rouleur, who drives the pace in the peloton (a group of riders), or a lead-out man for a sprinter.

The USPS team is outstanding. They combine rouleurs and climbers to protect Lance in the flat stages and ride the legs off his competitors in the mountains.

The race itself is like a chess game, with many strategies being played out. It’s also a big show, the superbowl for the rest of the world. At times riders will breakaway and the peloton doesn’t chase them. This is because those riders are not a threat to the GC, are out there getting TV exposure, and going for a sprint or stage win.

Jul 22  |  Justin Michaels said:

At last, a site that really tries to clear up Tour de France race mechanics and terminology! I am hoping you will help me with this follow-up question regarding teams:

I read the FAQ and the comments above, so I can understand the role of domestiques and other workers. However, I do not understand exactly how the “stars” can help or protect the team leader ó or even affect the leaderís time in any way.

For example, if a teamís sprinter finished second or third in some stagehow would it matter to the leader?

I know Im missing some huge basic points about the Tour, and Iíd appreciate any help. Thanks!

Justin Michaels Seattle, WA

Jul 23  |  -b- said:

Thanks for the questions. Someone else noted there should be a tour faq.com. There’s much etiquette and tradition to the sport. To your questions, It doesn’t matter to the leader, but to the other competitions going on in the tour: the green jersey, polka dot, etc. So, if they’ve got a sprinter like Zabel, he’s fighting for the sprinters (green) jersey.

Jul 23  |  Justin Michaels said:

Okay, so the climbers, sprinters, and roleurs are just there to see if ANY of them (team leader included) can win eventually the overall or at least pick up some stages for the team. Interesting … I had thought it was more complicated since they talk about “defense” and “protecting the leader” on TV.

Well, in any case, thanks for your help on this!

Justin Michaels

Jul 23  |  -b- said:

It is more complicated. For example, see Lance’s teamates placings. They’re way down the classification because when they’re done working, they shut it down, to be rested for the next day. So, a team that’s going for the overall win, will focus their team on the leader and riding for him. Teams that don’t have a chance to win overall, go for stage wins, jerseys, or both. Virenque is there to win the polka dot jersey. As the race unfolds, strategies change. I’ve seen Uhlrich ride for Zabel to put him in the green jersey. A team like Telecom has a guy that can win overall and the green jersey, so they do both. Postal’s sole purpose is the yellow jersey.

Jul 24  |  Justin said:

How are the overall team classifications decided? Are there a specific number of team members that are used in the scoring?

Jul 25  |  -b- said:

The team classification is established by the cummulative time of the top-three individuals from each time on each stage.

Aug 11  |  Justin Michaels said:

Back from vacation now. Thanks for clearing that up for me, B! I can see the Tour is an intricate beast … That will make watching it all the more enjoyable, thanks in good part to the information I found here :)

By the way … would it be possible to for someone to remove the link to my email address from these messages? Hadnt realized I was giving out my private home addy.

I’d appreciate it, and thank you again for the Tour info!

Justin Michaels (no relation to “Justin” from the prior post :)


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