Tour de France Guide


Glossary header


Track racing. The rider is already at top speed when the stopwatch starts. That is to say that he has a lap and a half in which to accelerate and he completes the final 200 meters to a maximum speed.


Rider who attacks very early in the race to try his luck from a far out position; his qualities as a sprinter or climber do not allow him to compete with the best.

Be in the right breakaway

This means not missing a decisive breakaway.

Blow up

Total exhaustion brought on by forcing effort after having hit the wall or by hitting the wall several times. It may also be caused by a lack of sufficient food intake. As a result the rider loses a significant amount of time on his rivals.


When there is a side wind, the riders at the head of the peloton fan out diagonally across the width of the road. Should the echelon suddenly speed up, the riders who are behind can often find that they are no longer protected from the wind. It is then very difficult to keep up with the pace, causing one or more breaks in the peloton.


Rider or group of riders who have distanced the peloton.


Rider whose physical qualities are expressed during long climbs. Also means a hill or a mountain pass which earns points for the mountain rankings.

Consolidate a lead

Refers to a rider who manages to widen the gap with his pursuers.

Cycle in the red zone

Riding above a maximum safe effort level. A prolonged stay in the red zone can lead to hitting the wall.


Position often used on an incline, when the rider is out of his saddle.


Sticking to the wheel of the rider in front to benefit from his slipstream.

Dropped rider

Rider left behind by the peloton.


Group of riders that positions itself diagonally for protection from the wind. The first rider moves to the side of the road from where the wind is coming and the other riders position themselves diagonally across the road, taking the full width, to gain as much protection as possible from the wind.

Flamme rouge

Indicates the last kilometre of the race.

Gear ratio

This is the ratio between the number of teeth on the front and rear sprockets. The higher the ratio, the greater the distance travelled in one turn of the pedal.

Green jersey

Designates the rider who leads the points rankings. Points are allocated on the finishing line and for intermediate sprints.


Group of riders formed at the back of the race during mountain stages. With no hope of victory, they join together with the aim of finishing the stage within the time limit.

Gun down

Accelerate very violently.

Hit the wall

The body's way of telling the rider that he has reached his limits. If the signal is heeded, the rider will rest for a while; if the signal is ignored the rider will eventually blow up.

Hunger knock

Happens when blood sugar levels have dropped too low. It results from bad management of food intake.

Individual time trial

The rider races alone against the clock and must reach the finishing line in the fastest time.


A sudden burst of speed which leaves opponents behind.


Track cycling event which originated in Japan. The race begins with a peloton of riders following a motorcycle whose speed gradually increases up to 45 km/h. The motorcycle moves aside at about 700 metres from the finish, making way for the final sprint.


The best rider in a team, either due to his physical capacities or his position in the standings.

Lead-out man

Rider who engages the final sprint for the benefit of the team's sprinter.


A shoulder bag containing food and drink for riders. It is handed out towards the middle of a race at a pre-defined feeding station.

Not go all-out

Refers to a rider who saves his strength for later in the race. This rider does not contribute effectively in breakaway relays.


Main group of riders during a cycling race.

Plug the gap

Catch up with a group from behind.

Polka dot jersey

The rider who leads the mountain standings. Points are awarded to the first riders on certain designated climbs.


Race against the clock ridden as the opener to a stage race.


Rider who prefers hilly terrain. They especially like short, sharp climbs.


Rider who never takes a relay.


Move to the head of a group to protect the other riders from the wind. Successive relays allow each member of the group to expend less effort than a solo rider.

Right one (the)

The breakaway which will spend the most time at the head of the race.

Road race

A road race stage denotes a stage that is not a time-trial, regardless of terrain.

Rubber band

Refers to a rider who is left behind several times by a group but who always manages to catch up.

Sit up

Suddenly reduce speed.

Sports Director

The team strategist who follows the race in a car and gives instructions to his riders.


Last moments of a bike race, when the riders accelerate and give everything to be first across the finishing line.


Track cycling event contested by two riders. The winner is the first to cross the line. Tactics play a major role, with riders being allowed to standstill.

Sprint train

In the final kilometres, the sprinter is lead by his team-mates who place themselves at the head of the peloton. Each rider produces a flat-out effort and then moves aside until only one is left: the lead-out rider. He serves as the launching pad, delivering the sprinter to the final sprint in the best possible conditions.


Rider who spends almost the whole race inside the peloton, well protected from the wind, and produces his effort at the very end of the race, hoping to use his burst of speed to win in the final sprint.

Stage race

Race which is ridden over several days.

Team time-trial

The team races alone against the clock and must reach the finishing line in the fastest time and with a stipulated number of riders.


Rider who works for a team leader.

Water bottle

Allows the rider to have a drink.

Water carrier

Team-mate whose job it is to fetch water bottles from the car of the sports director and to distribute them amongst other riders in the team.


A rider who sits on the wheel of the rival in front and refuses to take a relay.

White jersey

The rider who leads the young rider standings (under 25 years of age).

Yellow jersey

Highest honour which designates the rider who leads the general overall rankings.