Jul 12th, 09. Back to basics. How do the riders get fed? Why are some bibs different colours? How does the timing work? Can riders swap gear between each other?
After the great feedback on our "Measuring Tour de France success" article, many readers have emailed and asked us to republish the other articles in the series.
Back to basics
RoadCycling.co.nz has received a number of email questions from "general interest" followers of the Tour de France.
All riders in the same bunch receive the same finish time (c)TDWSport.com
Here are a few of the basic rules behind this great race.
Timing - Why don't riders in bunches other than the front bunch challenge for placings? How does the timing work?
- All riders in the same bunch (group / peloton) receive the time of the first rider.
- That is why there isn't a mad scramble within bunches as it doesn't matter the order riders finish in their own bunch.
- There can be days when everyone in the whole race is given the same time.
- The time keeper will only change the time when there is what they call a "real break" between riders.
- The only exception is for the front bunch, time is still recorded as the same, but there are sprint points and/or climbing points for the placings, so order does matter for up to the first 25 riders.
Timing - A rider finished minutes after everyone else but got the same time, how come?
- Any rider who falls, crashes, punctures or has a mechanical incident in the last three kilometres receives the same time as the group he was riding in at the time of the incident - as long as the rider actually crosses the finish line.
- This rule doesn't apply to the time trial stages or the mountain top finish stages.
Feeding - How do riders get fed? Can riders accept food and water from spectators?
- Riders can accept food and drink from spectators, but they don't often do so due to the risk of not knowing what they are getting.
- There are specific feed stations in each stage where the riders receive bags of food from support staff waiting at the side of the road.
- Outside feed stations, riders can get food and drink from their team cars but generally not in the 1st 50kms or the last 20kms of a stage.
- To receive food from the cars a rider has to drop back from the peloton level with their team car. This is the job of the team domestiques, they drop back, pick up supplies and work their way back up to their leaders for distribution.
- Tour de France neutral vehicles can deliver bottles to the riders, but it is water only. Most riders drink a mixture of water and sports supplement drinks to rehydrate.
Numbers - Why are some riders' bib numbers a different colour?
- Red bibs - the winner of the Most Combative award from the previous stage
- Yellow bib - the team leading the Team Classification wear yellow bibs
Bikes - Can riders swap bikes if they have a crash or something breaks?
- Riders can only swap wheels and bikes with a rider from their own team.
- Riders from different teams can swap small things like food, drink and small accessories.
- Any rider can get assistance from their own team car and from the neutral vehicles.
Bunch vs single file - Why is the peloton sometimes so spread out? What is an echelon?
- The shape of the peloton is detemined by the wind.
- The peloton works to maximise the benefit of tucking behind a rider to shelter from the wind.
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