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Old 06-22-10, 07:34 PM   #1
b4lini
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Help with understanding these pro races.

I'm wondering if someone can point me to a website, publication, book, etc. that explains the basics of pro racing. I have questions about these multi stage races, like how the whole yellow jersey thing works. How is the "score" kept.......I don't even know what questions to ask! All I know is that I'm confused. I need a course in the rules of engagement and the nuances of the sport. Like why does the commentator refer to some of the riders as sprinters when they're all in the same LONG DISTANCE race?
I'd like to have some kind of understanding of it before the Tour de France!
Thanks in advance, Bob
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Old 06-22-10, 07:45 PM   #2
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Haven't read it, but this probably has what you're looking for: http://books.google.com/books?id=HeB...page&q&f=false
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Old 06-22-10, 08:05 PM   #3
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I should've known! A Dummies book for the Tour! That's exactly what I need.......thanks!

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Haven't read it, but this probably has what you're looking for: http://books.google.com/books?id=HeB...page&q&f=false
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Old 06-23-10, 11:45 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by b4lini View Post
the basics of pro racing.
The tour de france takes place over 3 weeks.

The first day is a time trial, where each rider races one at a time around an 8km lap and records a time. The rider with the fastest time is the leader and gets the yellow jersey.

The next day (stage) they all race together over a 200km distance and record new times. These are added to the first days time and the person with the overall fastest time is the leader and wears the yellow jersey.

This repeats over the next 20 days untill paris when the rider who took the least amount of time is the winner.

In cycling you can drafty behind another rider and do alot less pedaling work because ou are in the slipstream. If 10 riders work together they are much faster than a single rider. So on theflat stages the riders stuck together as it is not possible to ride faster than the pack of 100+ riders. Flat stages often end in a sprint because of this.

When climbing a mountain the slipstreaming advantage is lower because the speeds are alower, so the single rider can be faster then the group of 10. This is a time when a rider can try and ride a faster stage time to get a lower overall time.

any questions?
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Old 06-23-10, 12:37 PM   #5
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Try this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_France
It will give you a basic idea of the tour, some history, and how it's 'scored'.

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Old 06-23-10, 12:46 PM   #6
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Don't forget that there are actually five different events going on simultaneously: overall (GC), sprinting points, climbing points, junior GC, and team.

Usually overall is all the press talk about, so pay most attention to that to begin. Add the others as they pique your interest.
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Old 06-23-10, 01:20 PM   #7
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Seems like you can just watch the TDF and pretty much figure it out...
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Old 06-23-10, 03:58 PM   #8
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Pretty shady did a good job. But for a beginner the huge thing to understand is that on the flat almost all the energy goes into overcoming air resistance. Being behind someone means 20% or more less work. Having someone behind yuo actually means about 1% less work, but has mental negatives.

That draft makes for a lot of the strategy, even on climbs draft makes a difference.

Next things is despite how the announcers seem to talk some of the time every rider team is out for results for their team.

Teams care about what their team gets, not helping or hurting other teams (mainly).

There are 3 competitions.

The GC (Yellow Jersey) - Basically total time. On that be aware that all riders in a group get the same time. Part of that is historical, before video it would have been all but impossible to give times to each tider in a group of over 100, but it is also safety. If 100 riders all came to the finish caring abotu seconds and working for them it would make the worst of current finishes look calm.

Points jersey (Sprinters jersey) - Determined mainly by points for placeing at the end of each stage, but there will be intermediate sprint points with small numbers of points available. There are more points available on flat stages.

King Of the mountians - Again points, but points are for the order in which yuo make it to the top of designated climbs. Categories are from 4 to 1 with 1 being highest and also HC (over category) which is higher still. Higher the category the more points (and the more places that get points). These are for designated climbs. It is somewhat subjective what category a climb gets, the same climb can be a different category different years because what came before matters. Early in the tour the smallest little bump may get ranked as as cat 4 climb (one year a harbor bridge wasa cat 4 climb). They do this jsut to have some points so they can award a KOM. Once they hit the mountians for the first time such cat 4 climbs will be ignored (even of later flat stages).

Again each team is out for their own benefit. The teams aer not close to equal. Some have all but no chance of putting someone in one of the jerseys at the end of the race. BUT they may be able to do it early. No final win, but it gets publicity and that is what sponsors pay for. Same logic for early breaks that have no chance. They get publicity and for smaller teams that is important. A big team with a serious contender may not care much about keeping the yellow jersey early. A smaller team with no chance to have it at the end will figth for all it is worth to hold it just one more day (and sometimes hold it 3, 4 or 5 more days whan no one thought they could).

Again draft matters and each team/rider is out for their own good and what matters to them.

This sometimes means riders help eachother. If a GC (elapsed time) contender gets off the front with another rider who is not a contender they may work as a team and at teh end the GC rider 'gifts' that other rider the stage win. It isn't really a gift, it is an agreement. The GC rider cares most about seconds. They both work hard and get teh most seconds and then teh otehr rider gets the stage. If they did not work thsi out than the smart move for the other rider would be to do less of the work and then be fresher at the end to win the stage. The non-GC contender does not care if the 2 of them are 2 seconds or 15 minutes ahead of everyone else. If a KOM contender is in a break on a mountian stage and the others in hte break are not KOM contenders they usually let him get top KOM points (EXCEPT when one of them has a KOM contender on his team).

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-23-10, 04:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
There are 3 competitions.
Don't forget the Best Young Rider competition (white jersey). It's the rider with the best time who is 25 years old or under. Last year's Maillot Blanc went to Andy Schleck.

There is also a competition within each stage for "Most Combative". It goes to the rider that argues the most with other riders and race officials.
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Old 06-23-10, 04:18 PM   #10
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Ummm... well... close enough.
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Old 06-23-10, 06:28 PM   #11
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A big THANKS to all who took the time to educate me a little, especially prettyshady and Keith99! Great stuff...thanks again. -Bob
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Old 06-24-10, 10:02 AM   #12
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There is another book that is good for beginners to read called "Roadie, the misunderstood life of a bike racer". It's not so much about the Tour De France but bike racing in general.
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Old 06-24-10, 10:59 AM   #13
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Some added info.

The TdF is 20 days of racing with a few rest days sprinkled in between, otherwise its one day of racing after another. Each day’s “Stage” is like a mini race in the total overall TdF race with different stage winners but still with one GC leader having the lowest cumulative time. Each stage starts in a different city then the day before thus the name “Tour de France”. 22 teams are invited to participate in this year’s TdF and each team has x number of riders racing in the race. While it’s true everyone races for the good of the team, there are monetary incentives to winning stages and obviously the three top GC winners of the TdF along with the other 5 categories already mentioned.

Here is the part that gets controversial and you can tune out here if you wish. IMO, each team has a different philosophy and/or objective. While true the team wants to do well in the TdF, the team’s composition of specialty riders sets the agenda for how they do in the TdF. Doing well doesn't necessarily translated into winning the Tdf. Maybe winning a bunch of stages is success in their view? What I mean by this is some teams (HTC comes to mind) have an abundance of sprinters that are out to win fast flat stages. Usually these sprinters abandon the race once the pavement goes vertical because that is not what they are good at. While other teams like Radio Shack, load up on great overall riders who serve as “domestiques” to help their team leader win the race. They unselfishly do everything they can to get him on the podium that last day. That’s why you’ll probably never see a RS rider out riding by himself trying to win a sprint stage. I’m not saying its right or wrong, that’s just the way it is.

Abbreviations:
GC = General Classification (overall race leader)
KOM = King of the Mountains
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Old 06-24-10, 08:15 PM   #14
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A stage race like the TDF is a competition of who can recover the best day after day. He who has the freshest legs will win.
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Old 06-27-10, 03:29 PM   #15
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I think was most confusing to newcomers is that someone can win the overall race without ever winning a stage. It's just the lowest accumulated time that wins not the most stage wins.
When a sprinter wins a stage it's usually by crossing the line first - if 100 riders are bunched together without a gap, they all get the same time.
When a climber wins a stage it can be by minutes (that's why Cavindish can win 8 stages and still be in overall 100th place - he loses big time in the mountains).
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Old 06-27-10, 03:45 PM   #16
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The race is won in bed.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-28-10, 04:53 AM   #17
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And the winner is probably doped to the gills but shhhhh, keep that to yourself.
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Old 06-28-10, 11:07 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
King Of the mountians - Again points, but points are for the order in which yuo make it to the top of designated climbs. Categories are from 4 to 1 with 1 being highest and also HC (over category) which is higher still.
One small correction: I believe the order is actually the reverse of that for climbs, with 5 being the most difficult after hors categorie (HC).

Great info nevertheless.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:02 PM   #19
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One small correction: I believe the order is actually the reverse of that for climbs, with 5 being the most difficult after hors categorie (HC).

Great info nevertheless.
No. 5 total categories with HC being most difficult and 1 being second most difficult. Legend (almost surely false) is that the original 1-4 were determined by the highest gear a car could make the climb in.

BTW a bit of trivia. Eddy Merckx never won a stage with a HC climb (Because the HC is a recent invention, no climbs were rated HC when he rode).
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