Cycling Jargon


When a rider or riders decide to ride faster than the rest to ride away from the bunch, it is called an attack or 'break-away'. Usually this is done with the intention of getting away from the bunch and riding to a placing at the finish. It is also a tactic used to split the field as it is beneficial for the bunch to go with the attack, but if they are tired, the bunch will get split up.


French for 'water bottle', bidons are attached to the bike frame by way of a small metallic holder from which they are easily pulled out and replaced during the race. (The Tour Down Under bidons are sponsored by Powerade)


This is the word used to describe the main field of riders throughout the race, also known as the 'peloton'.


These can be very spectacular and sometimes frightening! Bunch sprints occur when the bunch approaches the finish line as a whole and all have the same desire to win!


This can have a few meanings, but is basically when someone drops back behind the bunch and then 'chase' to get back up to them, or the bunch 'chasing' or 'closing the gap' on break away riders.


Another French word describing those riders who are the work horses of the team. These cyclists have the job of doing anything possible to help their Team Leader perform well in the race. This can even mean sacrificing your own wheel if your Team Leader has a puncture.


This is what happens to riders that have not been able to keep up with the bunch or riders they are riding with. This is usually a result of exhaustion or mechanical failure. They fall behind the pace and can no longer keep up.


A key tactic in cycle racing is to best avoid the wind, as this slows you down. So, cyclists ride close behind each other to benefit from the wind block from the rider in front. However, the wind blows at different angles so cyclists will place themselves to either side of the rear of the bike in front, or directly behind if it is a direct head-wind. When a whole bunch of riders fall in behind each other in this way it is said that they have formed an echelon.


To reward those riders who are good at climbing mountains there is a competition within the Tour Down Under tour called the Laubman & Pank King of the Mountain. Jerseys are awarded for the winners.


A lead out is when a cyclist sacrifices himself by riding fast in front of a team mate who sits in close behind to gain the advantage of the wind block. The front rider, usually a domestique, will ride as fast as possible toward the finish line with the other rider (usually the team leader or team sprinter) right behind. Just before the line the front rider will pull off to the side allowing the rider behind to race through to the finish... hopefully in first place!


See 'Maillot Jaune' below.


This is French for 'Yellow Jersey'; the coveted Leader's Jersey of the Tour de France. The Leader's Jersey is worn by the 'Overall Leader' each day and is the prize possession won by the overall winner of the tour.


The Overall Leader is the person who is currently leading in overall time of the tour. Each stage presents chances for individuals to gain advantages to their overall time in the stage results and sprint category. In the sprint category points that are gained go towards removing seconds from the rider's overall time. The Overall Leader also carries the glory of wearing the coveted Ochre Leaders Jersey. To be the Overall Leader is considered by most to be more of a privilege than to win a stage.


The French word for 'Bunch'.


A very common question asked to cyclists is why do they shave their legs? Well, apart from the fact that it looks good (!) there are practical reasons. Firstly, shaved legs reduce wind resistance (even if only to a tiny degree), secondly they make for more comfortable massages and thirdly they reduce the chance of infection caused by bacteria carried on hairs if the rider should fall.


Each day before the start of the stage, all cyclists who intend to race must sign their name on the Sensational Adelaide Sign On Board or sheet. If someone forgets to sign on they can no longer participate in the race.


As referred to in King of the Mountain, some riders are better at short, sharp bursts of speed. To reward them for their talent, designated lines throughout the route are set as sprint lines. These are on flat, fast areas of the stages. As with the King of the Mountain competition, points are awarded to the first people across the line and at the end of the tour the rider with the most points is awarded the SA Lotteries Sprint Jersey.


Cycling tours are held over a number of days, broken down into stages. Each day a different stage will be held, but all stages add up to create the overall tour. Results from each stage are cumulative and determine the overall winner on the last day.


This car follows the riders throughout the race and contains the team director, coach and mechanic. It is a back-up car for the team, holding spare wheels, spare bikes, food, drink and medical supplies.


This is the head of the team; the person who manages the racing tactics of the team and decides what will happen during each race, who will be the team leader and who will do what throughout the race.


Each team is made up of two types of riders: the team leader and the domestiques. The Team Leader is that cyclist who has been chosen to try to win the race, usually determined by previous performances. The rest of the team is then made up of the domestiques who will do anything to help their Team Leader win the race.