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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just started watching road races. I even watched a tdf highlights dvd from 2005. I have been reading a couple of magazines, and learning the names. I might even recognise the likes of Tom Boonen, Jan Ullrich, and Lance Armstrong if I passed them in the street.

However I am still lost by most of it. I figure if I keep reading and watching most of it will sink in, but is there some kind of 'idiots guide to the UCI/Protour'. Or an 'idiots guide to road cycling'. I understand that there is a lot of controversy about some sort of new championship system. How does the peloton work, what are the aims of the riders, if the bunch spends most of the time riding together, then how does anyone win. How did lance manage to win when he never ever seemed to do much...

...and just how do the guys in the peleton take toilet stops...I saw a photo of about twenty guys in a race all pulled over to the side of the road...do they have time out systems? :eek:

regards,
a very new person to the sport.
 

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Get Cyclesport and/or ProCycling Magazine. Watch Eurosport or if you're not in Europe check out www.cycling.tv . Cyclesport magazine has cheapish Videos and DVD's of all the Tours and some of the Giro and Vuelta as well as the classics.

Season starts with smaller single day races and short stage events building up to the Classics (One Day) and the bigger stage races and Grand Tours (Italy, France & Spain). The second half of the season is the reverse with stage races getting shorter and less prestigious save for the World Championships and the Giro di Lombardia.

Taking a leak depends on the situation. If it's early on in the race and the pace is not too brisk then riders will stop, but if the pace has picked up then it's done on the fly. The unwritten rule is that you don't attack someone who's punctured, crashed or is taking a leak/dump. Similarily it's frowned on in the feeding zone as it's dangerous. Most riders adhere to these "gentlemens agreements", but a few newer riders take a little time to learn the ropes.

There is a very traditional pecking order in cycling which since the English speaking invasion of the early 80's has been challenged somewhat. Nevertheless it's still a sport steeped in tradition which is part of the beauty of it.

Check out Bob Roll's books as they'll give you a funny view of life as a grunt in 80's europe. Graham Fife is good too. Lance Armstrong's first book is a good read too, but his second isn't worthy of use as toilet paper.
 

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Domestiques is the answer. LA's team rode tempo to make it hard for anyone to attack. LA sat in the shelter of his teammates until he was ready to deliver the coup de gras. Plus he only raced the Tour and a few races in the run up to the Tour so he was fresh.

Watch coverage from the Tour in the 80's and you'll see a more spontaneous style of racing. Even in the late 90's the racing was less predictable. Indurain & Armstrong were great Tour riders, but ultimately boring to watch. Lemond, Fignon, Chiapucci, Pantani & (pre 99) Ullrich are more fun to watch in my opinion. Maybe we'll see a return to the unpredictability of the pre-LA/MI days?
 

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Peter5 said:
I have just started watching road races. I even watched a tdf highlights dvd from 2005. I have been reading a couple of magazines, and learning the names. I might even recognise the likes of Tom Boonen, Jan Ullrich, and Lance Armstrong if I passed them in the street.

However I am still lost by most of it. I figure if I keep reading and watching most of it will sink in, but is there some kind of 'idiots guide to the UCI/Protour'. Or an 'idiots guide to road cycling'. I understand that there is a lot of controversy about some sort of new championship system. How does the peloton work, what are the aims of the riders, if the bunch spends most of the time riding together, then how does anyone win. How did lance manage to win when he never ever seemed to do much...

...and just how do the guys in the peleton take toilet stops...I saw a photo of about twenty guys in a race all pulled over to the side of the road...do they have time out systems? :eek:

regards,
a very new person to the sport.
See above on the last!

Just to keep you even more baffled - stage racing and single day events are very different animals. A single day race is, on the surface, simplistic - you all start together, ride the same course, someone gets over the line first, whether it's a local cycling club promotion or one of the huge single day classics we're running into right now. There are a lot more nuances to this, of course, and the more important, longer and harder races involve many factors. If it makes it to TV, watching Paris - Roubaix is a must. This race is run over as many stretches of cobbled roads, some dating back to the Napoleonic era, and is about the only race in the world where luck is allowed to be mentioned!

Stage racing is not only about being the fastest and strongest, it's about not making mistakes in the course of the race (or making less than the others!), it's about being a top allrounder who can recover from long days in the saddle, ride hard over the mountains, time-trial at the highest levels and have the support of a team whose job it is that the leader doesn't have to demonstrate his crushing superiority until it is really needed. The overall winner is simply the rider whose cumulative time over every day of racing is the shortest.

Thus winning on one day will do no good if you straggle in an hour down on the next.

Lance Armstrong's seventh Tour de France win was an almost textbook demo of those qualities - he never won a road stage, but he never faltered in his daily battles with those who could have taken the leadership from him, and increased his lead over those nearest competitors.

The only stage he won outright was the last time-trial, but for the rest of the race, he either beat his direct opponents over the finish line or didn't allow them to take any advantage over him.

Don't feel bad over being a new guy - I've lived in the US since 1994 and still cannot fathom out baseball or football! If you want a real, live book, Bob Roll's primer on the Tour is good, while his "Bobke Two" is a good read on what it's like to be a "domestique" on a top team. "Domestique" is the generica term for the rest of the team behind the top rider - these guys get fascinating jobs like collecting water bottles from the team car, to hand out around the team, and "dying out in the wind" to minimise how much unnecassary effort the team leader has to expend.

http://store.velogear.com/ - Velogear is one online source of cycling books

Hope that helps

Dereck
 

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Peter5 said:
I figure if I keep reading and watching most of it will sink in, but is there some kind of 'idiots guide to the UCI/Protour'.
Be aware as well that the ProTour is a new thing that lots of people don't like as it places emphasis on relatively few races. Consequently many smaller Spanish and Italian races in particularly have died over the past couple of years due to lack of sponsorship dollars. Just keep following it, you'll figure the rhythm of the season out as it essentially evolves around. The season is just moving into the "Spring Classics" period which are most of the oldest most prestigious single day races to win.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It is all so fascinating. We are having a local race on Sunday, so I am going down to watch. I wound up volunteering to help out, and sat in on a 'volunteers meeting', it was so interesting, all of the rules and issues that had to be dealt with.

Does the UCI control everything? They decide who gets to be a 'pro team' don't they? What does a team have to do to become a pro team? They also decide which of the events are considered to be events worthy of riding don't they.

I have been watching cycling.tv for the last few weeks, it is really interesting. It is always so hard to fathom how a race can be run for hours and hours and hours, and yet the lead barely changes, and break aways seem to be reeled back in more often then not...I guess it can be likened to the cricket...(days and days of play then it is a draw)!
 

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Peter5 said:
Does the UCI control everything? They decide who gets to be a 'pro team' don't they? What does a team have to do to become a pro team? They also decide which of the events are considered to be events worthy of riding don't they.
Yes and no. Tradition used to determine the prestige of most any race. There are 5 "monuments" or really prestigious one-day races; Milan-San Remo (this Saturday), Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege (all in the Spring) and then Tour of Lombardy in the fall. Often these races are referred to as "classics" but that is kinda of a loose term, you'll also hear "semi-classics" for less important but yet still significant one-day races such as Fleche-Wallone, Het Volk, Ghent-Wevelgem, etc. Several years ago the UCI instituted the World Cup which was a 10 race or so series that crowned a champion but it was never really all that big of a deal. It included the 5 monuments and then some other bonafide classics like Paris-Tours, some so-so races like Amstel Gold and Classica San Sebastian and then some elevated races with little pedigree like the German race (HEW-cycle classic or something or another) and the Swiss race (Championship of Zurich most years). In effect it elevated some really non-significant races while devalueing some formerly prestigious races like Fleche-Wallone, Milan-Turin, etc. who didn't make the cut into the World Cup. Being World Champion is also a big deal.

You also have the stage races with the Grand Tours. Used to the Giro and Tour were fairly even footing I think, but over the last couple of decades the Tour has become a media phenomenon and is essentially the face of cycling for the non-cycling fan. The Vuelta used to be held in the Spring and was really not that significant of a race. Moving it to late in the year has helped it but it's still the poor step child of the Giro and the Tour. Then there are lesser yet important stage races like Paris-Nice, Tour of Switzerland, several Spanish stage races. The ProTour seems to be really taking out many of these races in favor of trying to elevate some of them to the level of say a Paris-Nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I see, so a 'tour' is not nessecarily a multi-day race, (not a stage race?). I didn't realise that there were one day races.

So the World Cup determines the World Champion?

The guy (I think Boonen at the moment) riding around in the 'colors' (white shirt with a couple of stripes on it), is the world champion?

I understand that there is some priority regarding the jerseys. That is, the world champion(?) must always were the world champions jersey, he can't wear his team colors. What about if he is race leader and wins the yellow jersey, does this take precedence over the colored jersey? What other races have such importance that the winner must were the winners jersey instead of the team jersey.

I was watching the tdf 2005 highlights, and some guy was wearing a aqua-green suit, but his team was in a different color (it may have even been ulrich, not sure). What had he won that he couldn't wear his team uniform?

Just as a point of interest, in the tdf when the leader put on his jersey it always seemed to have his sponsors on it. I noticed the KoM winner even had matching gloves with the team sponsor on them.. Do the teams provide the yellow jerseys, ie do they prepare a yellow/green/white/spotted jersey/knicks/glove set for their team 'just in case'? Or do the race coordinators provide these jerseys?

Lastly, what is a criterium? Is is just a format that does lots of loops of a small circuit? Are any of the events on the racing calender in this format?

Thanks.
 

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Peter5 said:
I see, so a 'tour' is not nessecarily a multi-day race, (not a stage race?). I didn't realise that there were one day races. So the World Cup determines the World Champion?
No. The Worldcup and it's successor the ProTour are season long and have their own jersey etc which is only worn in ProTour events. The World Championship is decided in a single event toward the end of the season.

The guy (I think Boonen at the moment) riding around in the 'colors' (white shirt with a couple of stripes on it), is the world champion?
Yep, Boonen has the Rainbow Jersey.

I understand that there is some priority regarding the jerseys. That is, the world champion(?) must always were the world champions jersey, he can't wear his team colors. What about if he is race leader and wins the yellow jersey, does this take precedence over the colored jersey? What other races have such importance that the winner must were the winners jersey instead of the team jersey.
Rainbow Jersey is worn in all road events, but not timetrials, unless you are the TT champion too. Leader's jersey in a stage race takes precedence. After you have won the Worls you have the right to have rainbow bands on your sleeves for the rest of your career. Which is why LA had them on his USPS/Discovery kit as he won the Worlds in 93.

I was watching the tdf 2005 highlights, and some guy was wearing a aqua-green suit, but his team was in a different color (it may have even been ulrich, not sure). What had he won that he couldn't wear his team uniform?
Points, for consistency each day.

Just as a point of interest, in the tdf when the leader put on his jersey it always seemed to have his sponsors on it. I noticed the KoM winner even had matching gloves with the team sponsor on them.. Do the teams provide the yellow jerseys, ie do they prepare a yellow/green/white/spotted jersey/knicks/glove set for their team 'just in case'? Or do the race coordinators provide these jerseys?
Race provides the jersey, everything else is the team.

Lastly, what is a criterium? Is is just a format that does lots of loops of a small circuit? Are any of the events on the racing calender in this format?
Yes. Mostly in Holland, France & Belguim after the Tour.
 

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"I see, so a 'tour' is not nessecarily a multi-day race, (not a stage race?).

Generally a 'tour' is a multi-day (stage) event.

"I was watching the tdf 2005 highlights, and some guy was wearing a aqua-green suit, but his team was in a different color (it may have even been ulrich, not sure). What had he won that he couldn't wear his team uniform?"

"Points, for consistency each day."

I think that was Vinokourov's Kazakstan National Champion Jersey. The national champions (as well as the world champion) can wear their national colors. There are other jerseys besides the leader's (yellow for the TdF) jersey. Green for sprinters points, Polka Dot for mountain or climbing points and White for best rider under 23 (I think) years old.

"Lastly, what is a criterium? Is is just a format that does lots of loops of a small circuit? Are any of the events on the racing calender in this format?"

"Yes. Mostly in Holland, France & Belguim after the Tour."

Very common in North America where probably 90% are criteriums.

TF
 

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TurboTurtle said:
"I was watching the tdf 2005 highlights, and some guy was wearing a aqua-green suit, but his team was in a different color (it may have even been ulrich, not sure). What had he won that he couldn't wear his team uniform?"

"Points, for consistency each day."

I think that was Vinokourov's Kazakstan National Champion Jersey. The national champions (as well as the world champion) can wear their national colors. There are other jerseys besides the leader's (yellow for the TdF) jersey. Green for sprinters points, Polka Dot for mountain or climbing points and White for best rider under 23 (I think) years old.
Completely forgot about Vino's National Champs kit.

White jersey is Under 25 in the Tour.
 

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Peter5 said:
I see, so a 'tour' is not nessecarily a multi-day race, (not a stage race?).
Lastly, what is a criterium? Is is just a format that does lots of loops of a small circuit? Are any of the events on the racing calender in this format?
There are any number of names that essentially mean "Bike Race" such as Tour, Giro, Ronde, Vuelta, Criterium most of which can be attached to a one-day race or a stage race. Criteriums, in the American bike racing usage, are typically only raced in Europe as show events where big name riders are paid to show up and ride and the outcome is fixed. They are not part of the UCI calendar. However, there is the Criterium International which is coming up soon that is a short stage race (3 stages over 2 days).
 

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ultimobici said:
LA sat in the shelter of his teammates until he was ready to deliver the coup de gras.
Actually, it's Ullrich who can be counted on to deliver the coup de gras ("hit of fat").
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oh, One more question

What is a 'prologue', is it a part of the race, does it count, or is it just a warm-up/get-to-know-you session for the members of the peleton.

'peleton' is the main group of riders, or all of the riders in the race?
'gruppetto' is this just what you would call you saturday morning group ride, or is it the riders who have fallen of the back of a race?

I have been told that I will have to learn a little bit of french and italian if I get really interested in the sport!!
 

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Peter5, you might find these films interesting

La Course en Tete - God (Merckx)
A Sunday in Hell - 76 Paris Roubaix Merckx, De Vlaeminck & Maertens
Pour Un Maillot Jaune - Tour de France 1962
Stars & Water Carriers - 73 Giro
The Greatest Show on Earth - 74 Giro Gimondi & Merckx

All of these are classics in their own right, with A Sunday in Hell getting this review - "Arguably the best film ever made about professional cycling. International Film Guide"

These will all explain the basics of cycle racing that still apply today. Training methods have changed & technology has advanced, but at the end of the day the same rule applies.

The winner is the one who can suffer the quickest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks, I think I will placing an order with Amazon soon..The films, plus the books mentioned earlier look like good places to start.
 

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Peter5 said:
Oh, One more question

What is a 'prologue', is it a part of the race, does it count, or is it just a warm-up/get-to-know-you session for the members of the peleton.

'peleton' is the main group of riders, or all of the riders in the race?
'gruppetto' is this just what you would call you saturday morning group ride, or is it the riders who have fallen of the back of a race?

I have been told that I will have to learn a little bit of french and italian if I get really interested in the sport!!
A prologue is a short time trial on the first day of a stage race. I'm sure there is some maximum distance it can be before it becomes simply a "time trial" rather than a "prologue". Yes it counts. I'm not sure how the UCI handles them for awarding points in the ProTour but your time counts for the race.

Italian for "peleton" is "gruppo", the gruppetto is essentially the riders who have been dropped or done their work for the day, etc. and are just taking it easy riding in to the finish. I think the French call it the "autobus".
 
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