Road bicycle racing

Road bicycle racing is the cycle sport discipline of road cycling, held on paved roads. Road racing is the most popular professional form of bicycle racing, in terms of numbers of competitors, events and spectators. The two most common competition formats are mass start events, where riders start simultaneously (though sometimes with a handicap) and race to set finish point; and time trials, where individual riders or teams race a course alone against the clock. Stage races or "tours" take multiple days, and consist of several mass-start or time-trial stages ridden consecutively.

Professional racing has been most popular in Western Europe, centered historically on France, Spain, Italy and the Low Countries. Since the mid-1980s the sport has diversified with professional races now held on all continents of the globe. Semi-professional and amateur races are also held in many countries. The sport is governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). As well as the UCI's annual World Championships for men and women, the biggest event is the Tour de France, a three-week race that can attract over 500,000 roadside supporters a day.

Road bicycle racing
Olympic Road Race Womens winners, London - July 2012
A breakaway of three riders during the women's road race at the 2012 Summer Olympics
Highest governing bodyUCI
Characteristics
ContactNo, although bodies do touch
Team membersIndividuals and teams
Mixed genderYes, separate competitions
TypeCycle sport
EquipmentRoad bicycle
VenuePaved roads
Presence
Country or regionWorldwide
OlympicYes, men's since the 1896 Olympics and women's since the 1984 Olympics
World Championshipsyes
ParalympicYes, men's and women's since the 1984 Paralympics

History

Road racing in its modern form originated in the late 19th century. It began as an organized sport in 1868.[1] The sport was popular in the western European countries of France, Spain, Belgium, and Italy, and some of those earliest road bicycle races remain among the sport's biggest events. These early races include Liège–Bastogne–Liège (established 1892), Paris–Roubaix (1896), the Tour de France (1903), the Milan–San Remo and Giro di Lombardia (1905), the Giro d'Italia (1909), the Volta a Catalunya (1911), and the Tour of Flanders (1913). They provided a template for other races around the world.

Cycling has been part of the Summer Olympic Games since the modern sequence started in Athens in 1896.[2]

Historically, the most competitive and devoted countries since the beginning of 20th century were Belgium, France and Italy, then road cycling spread in Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland after World War II. However nowadays as the sport grows in popularity through globalization, countries such as Kazakhstan, Australia, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland and the United States continue to produce world-class cyclists.

Road race types

Tour of gippsland final stage
The Tour of Gippsland – a stage race in Australia– climbing through the scenic area of the Omeo Shire

Single-day

Professional single-day race distances may be as long as 180 miles (290 km). Courses may run from place to place or comprise one or more laps of a circuit; some courses combine both, i.e., taking the riders from a starting place and then finishing with several laps of a circuit (usually to ensure a good spectacle for spectators at the finish). Races over short circuits, often in town or city centres, are known as criteriums. Some races, known as handicaps, are designed to match riders of different abilities and/or ages; groups of slower riders start first, with the fastest riders starting last and so having to race harder and faster to catch other competitors.

Time trial

Individual time trial (ITT) is an event in which cyclists race alone against the clock on flat or rolling terrain, or up a mountain road. A team time trial (TTT), including two-man team time trial, is a road-based bicycle race in which teams of cyclists race against the clock. In both team and individual time trials, the cyclists start the race at different times so that each start is fair and equal. Unlike individual time trials where competitors are not permitted to 'draft' (ride in the slipstream) behind each other, in team time trials, riders in each team employ this as their main tactic, each member taking a turn at the front while teammates 'sit in' behind. Race distances vary from a few km (typically a prologue, an individual time trial of usually less than 5 miles (8.0 km) before a stage race, used to determine which rider wears the leader's jersey on the first stage) to between approximately 20 miles (32 km) and 60 miles (97 km).

Stage races

Stage races consist of several races, or stages, ridden consecutively. The competitor with the lowest cumulative time to complete all stages is declared the overall, or general classification (GC), winner. Stage races may also have other classifications and awards, such as individual stage winners, the points classification winner, and the "King of the Mountains" (or mountains classification) winner. A stage race can also be a series of road races and individual time trials (some events include team time trials). The stage winner is the first person to cross the finish line that day or the time trial rider (or team) with the lowest time on the course. The overall winner of a stage race is the rider who takes the lowest aggregate time to complete all stages (accordingly, a rider does not have to win all or any of the individual stages to win overall). Three-week stage races are called Grand Tours. The professional road bicycle racing calendar includes three Grand Tours - the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a Espana.[3]

Ultramarathon

Ultra-distance cycling races are very long single stage events where the race clock continuously runs from start to finish. They usually last several days and the riders take breaks on their own schedules, with the winner being the first one to cross the finish line. Among the best-known ultramarathons is the Race Across America (RAAM), a coast-to-coast non-stop, single-stage race in which riders cover approximately 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in about a week. The race is sanctioned by the UltraMarathon Cycling Association (UMCA). RAAM and similar events allow (and often require) racers to be supported by a team of staff; there are also ultra-distance bicycle races that prohibit all external support, such as the Transcontinental Race and the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.

Tactics

Military cyclists in pace line
Cyclists drafting behind one another, forming a paceline

A number of tactics are employed to reach the objective of a race. This objective is being the first to cross the finish line in the case of a single-stage race, and clocking the least aggregate finish time in the case of a multi-stage race.

Drafting

Tactics are based on the aerodynamic benefit of drafting, whereby a rider can significantly reduce the required pedal effort by closely following in the slipstream of the rider in front. Riding in the main field, or peloton, can save as much as 40% of the energy employed in forward motion when compared to riding alone.[4] Some teams designate a leader, whom the rest of the team is charged with keeping out of the wind and in good position until a critical section of the race. This can be used as a strength or a weakness by competitors; riders can cooperate and draft each other to ride at high speed (a paceline or echelon), or one rider can sit on a competitor's wheel, forcing the other person to do a greater share of the work in maintaining the pace and to potentially tire earlier. Drafting is not permitted in individual time trials.

Breaks

A group of riders that "breaks away" (a "break") from the peloton has more space and freedom, and can therefore be at an advantage in certain situations. Working together smoothly and efficiently, a small group can potentially maintain a higher speed than the peloton, in which the remaining riders may not be as motivated or organized to chase effectively.[5] Usually a rider or group of riders will try to break from the peloton by attacking and riding ahead to reduce the number of contenders for the win. If the break does not succeed and the body of cyclists comes back together, a sprinter will often win by overpowering competitors in the final stretch.[6] Teamwork between riders, both pre-arranged and ad-hoc, is important in many aspects: in preventing or helping a successful break, and sometimes in delivering a sprinter to the front of the field.[7]

Terrain and conditions

To make the course more selective, races often feature difficult sections such as tough climbs, fast descents, and sometimes technical surfaces (such as the cobbled pavé used in the Paris–Roubaix race). Stronger riders are able to drop weaker riders during such sections, reducing the number of direct competitors able to take the win. Also weather may be a discriminating factor.

Climbs

Climbs are excellent places for a single rider to try and break away from a bunch, as the lower riding speeds in a climb seriously reduce the drafting advantage of the bunch. The escaping rider can then further capitalize on that rider's position in the descent, as going downhill alone allows for more maneuvering space and therefore higher speeds than when in a bunch. In addition, because the bunch riders are keeping more space between them for safety reasons, their drafting benefits are again reduced. If this action takes place relatively close to the target (e.g. another bunch ahead, or the finish), the ride over flatter terrain after the descent is not long enough to let the drafting effect (which is then working at full power again) make the bunch catch up, making a climb escape even more attractive.

Crosswinds

Wind conditions can also make otherwise routine sections of a course potentially selective. Cyclists have been finding that three- or four-spoked composite front wheels are more stable when confronting crosswinds.[8] Crosswinds, particularly, alter the position of the "shadow" when drafting a rider, usually placing it diagonally behind the lead rider.[9] To take advantage of this, an attacking rider rides at high speed at the front of the peloton, on the opposite side of the road from which the crosswind is blowing. Following riders are unable to fully shelter from the wind. If such tactics are maintained for long enough, a weaker rider somewhere in the line will be unable to keep contact with the rider directly ahead, causing the peloton to split up.[10]

Speed

As well as exceptional fitness, successful riders must develop excellent bike handling skills in order to ride at high speeds in close quarters with other riders. Individual riders can reach speeds of 110 km/h (68 mph) while descending winding mountain roads and may reach 60–80 km/h (37–50 mph) level speeds during the final sprint to the finish line. Across a long stage race, such as a Grand Tour, the winner's average speed is usually near 40 km/h.

Gruppetto

In more organized races, a SAG wagon ("support and gear") or broom wagon follows the race to pick up stragglers. In professional stage racing, particularly the Tour de France, riders who are not in a position to win the race or assist a teammate, will usually attempt to ride to the finish within a specified percentage of the winner's finishing time, to be permitted to start the next day's stage. Often, riders in this situation band together to minimize the effort required to finish within the time limit; this group of riders is known as the gruppetto or autobus. In one-day racing, professionals who no longer have any chance to affect the race outcome will routinely withdraw, even if they are uninjured and capable of riding to the finish.

Teams

While the principle remains that the winner is the first to cross the line, many riders are grouped together in teams, usually with commercial sponsors. On professional and semi-professional teams, team names are typically synonymous with the primary sponsors. As an example, some prominent professional teams of the last 30 years have been Team Telekom, Team Jumbo–Visma, ONCE, Mapei and Lampre.[11] The size of the team varies, from three in an amateur event for club riders to a dozen in professional races. Team riders decide between themselves, before and during the race, who has the best chance of winning. The choice will depend on hills, the chances that the whole field will finish together in a sprint, and other factors. The other riders on the team, or domestiques, will devote themselves to promoting the leader's chances, taking turns in the wind for him, refusing to chase with the peloton when he or she escapes, and so on. The goal is to allow the leader to have enough energy to take off at the critical point of the race and go on to victory.

In professional races, team coordination is often performed by radio communication between the riders and the team director, who travels in a team car behind the race and monitors the overall situation. The influence of radios on race tactics is a topic of discussion amongst the cycling community, with some arguing that the introduction of radios in the 1990s has devalued the tactical knowledge of individual riders and has led to less exciting racing.[12] In September 2009, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of pro cycling, voted to phase in a ban on the use of team radios in men's elite road racing.[13] However, after protests from teams, the ban introduced in 2011 excluded races on the top-level men's and women's circuits (the UCI World Tour and UCI Women's Road World Cup) and in 2015 the UCI reversed its stance, allowing race radios to be used in class HC and class 1 events from the 2016 season.[14]

Types of riders

Within the discipline of road racing, from young age different cyclists have different (relative) strengths and weaknesses.[15] Depending on these, riders tend to prefer different events over particular courses, and perform different tactical roles within a team.

The main specialities in road bicycle racing are:

Stage-race ranking

In a stage race a stage ranking is drawn up at the end of each stage, showing for each participating rider the completion time of the stage. The one with the lowest completion time wins the stage. At the same time a general ranking shows the cumulative finishing times of all prior stages for each participating rider. A rider who does not complete any of the stages within its respective time limit is disqualified. The one with the lowest total cumulative time is the general leader. The general leader typically wears a distinctive jersey (yellow in the Tour de France) and generally maintains a position near the head of the main mass of riders (the peloton), surrounded by team members, whose job it is to protect the leader.

Contenders for the general lead may stage "attacks" to distance themselves from the leader in "breakaways". The general leader's vulnerability to breakaways is higher when the escaping rider(s) trail by a small time difference in the general ranking, and as number of remaining stages diminishes. Riders, who finish in the stage ranking behind the general leader, increase their cumulative time disadvantage. Whereas those who finish ahead of the general leader decrease their time disadvantage and may even gain sufficient time to unseat the general leader. After each stage, the racer with the lowest cumulative time becomes (or remains) the general leader.

The general leader does not generally react to breakaways by riders who trail substantially in cumulative time. Such escapes usually achieve other goals, such as winning the stage, collecting sprinting or mountain points, or just creating air time for their team sponsors as a dedicated camera bike typically accompanies the escape.

Notable bicycle races

Grand Tours

Notable cycling races include the Tour de France, a three-week stage race principally through France and ending in Paris, the Giro d'Italia in Italy and the Vuelta a España in Spain. Each of these races is considered a "Grand Tour".

UCI World Tour

Professional racing is governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale. In 2005 it instituted the UCI ProTour (renamed UCI World Tour in 2011) to replace the UCI Road World Cup series. While the World Cup contained only one-day races, the World Tour includes the Grand Tours and other large stage races such as Tour Down Under, Tour de Suisse, Paris–Nice and the Critérium de Dauphiné Libéré.

The former UCI Road World Cup one-day races – which include all five Classic cycle races or "Monuments" – were also part of the ProTour: Milan–San Remo (Italy), Tour of Flanders (Belgium), Paris–Roubaix (France), Liège–Bastogne–Liège (Belgium) and Amstel Gold Race (Netherlands) in the spring, and Clásica de San Sebastián (Spain), HEW Cyclassics (Germany), Züri-Metzgete (Switzerland, until 2006), Paris–Tours (France, until 2007) and Giro di Lombardia (Italy) in the autumn season.

Olympic Games

Cycling has been a discipline in the summer Olympics ever since the birth of the modern Olympic movement. The historian Wlodzimierz Golebiewski says: "Cycling has become a major event on the Olympic programme ... Like many other sports it has undergone several changes over the years. Just as there used to be track and field events such as the standing high jump or throwing the javelin with both hands, cyclists, too, used to compete for medals in events which today have been forgotten; for example in Athens in 1896, they attempted a 12-hour race, and in London, in 1908, one of the events was a sprint for 603.49 metres (659.98 yards)."[16] The Olympic Games has never been as important in road cycling as in other sports. Until the distinction ended, the best riders were professionals rather than amateurs and so did not take part.[16] Law enforcement always escort the athletes to ensure they and bystanders are kept safe during the cycling events, especially the road races.

Paris–Rouen

The success of the races in the Parc de St-Cloud inspired the Compagnie Parisienne and the magazine Le Vélocipède Illustré to run a race from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to the cathedral in Rouen on 7 November 1869. It was the world's first long-distance road race and also won by Moore, who took 10 hours and 25 minutes to cover 134 km. The runners-up were the Count André Castéra, who had come second to Moore at St-Cloud, and Jean Bobillier, riding a farm bike that weighed 35 kg. The only woman to finish within 24 hours was the self-styled Miss America, in reality an unknown English woman who, like several in the field, had preferred not to compete under her real name.

International development and governance

The growth of organised cycle racing led to the development of national administrative bodies, in Britain in 1878, France 1881, the Netherlands 1883, Germany 1884 and Sweden 1900. Sometimes, as in Britain, cycling was originally administered as part of athletics, since cyclists often used the tracks used by runners. This, according to historian James McGurn, led to disputes within countries and internationally.

The Bicycle Union [of Britain], having quarrelled with the Amateur Athletic Association over cycle race jurisdiction on AAA premises, took issue with the Union Vélocipèdique de France over the French body's willingness to allows its "amateurs" to compete for prizes of up to 2,000 francs, the equivalent of about sixteen months' pay for a French manual worker.[1]

The first international body was the International Cycling Association (ICA), established by an English schoolteacher named Henry Sturmey, the founder of Sturmey-Archer. It opened in 1893 and held its first world championship in Chicago, United States, the same year. A new organisation, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), was set up on 15 April 1900 during the Olympic Games in Paris, by several European countries and the United States. Britain was not initially a member, but joined in 1903. The UCI, based in Switzerland, has run the sport ever since.

Season

In its home in Europe and in the United States, cycle racing on the road is a summer sport, although the season can start in early spring and end in autumn. The months of the season depend on the hemisphere. A racing year is divided between lesser races, single-day classics and stage races. The classics include the Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix and Milan–San Remo. The other important one-day race is the World Championships. Unlike other classics, the World Championships is held on a different course each year and ridden by national rather than sponsored teams. The winner wears a white jersey with coloured bands (often called "rainbow bands") around the chest.

In Australia, due to the relatively mild winters and hot summers, the amateur road racing season runs from autumn to spring, through the winter months, while criterium races are held in the mornings or late afternoons during the summer. Some professional events, including the Tour Down Under, are held in the southern summer, mainly to avoid clashing with the major northern hemisphere races and allowing top professionals to compete.

Bicycle championships

See also

References

  1. ^ a b On Your Bicycle, James McGurn, John Murray 1987
  2. ^ https://www.olympic.org/cycling-road
  3. ^ "2011 - A Year In Review". roadcycling.com. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  4. ^ Edmund Burke, High-Tech Cycling, 2003
  5. ^ Abbiss, Chris R.; Menaspà, Paolo; Villerius, Vincent; Martin, David T. (2013). "Distribution of Power Output When Establishing a Breakaway in Cycling". International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 8 (4): 452–5. PMID 23539668.
  6. ^ Menaspà, P.; Quod, M.; Martin, D.; Peiffer, J.; Abbiss, C. (2015). "Physical Demands of Sprinting in Professional Road Cycling" (PDF). International Journal of Sports Medicine. 36 (13): 1058–62. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1554697. PMID 26252551.
  7. ^ Menaspà, Paolo; Abbiss, Chris R.; Martin, David T. (2013). "Performance Analysis of a World-Class Sprinter During Cycling Grand Tours". International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 8 (3): 336–40. PMID 23038704.
  8. ^ High-tech Cycling by Ed Burke, publisher Human Kinetics, 2003 (pg. 27).
  9. ^ Sumner, Jason (2016). Bicycling Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills: Your Guide to Riding Faster, Stronger, Longer, and Safer. Rodale. p. 224. ISBN 9781623364960.
  10. ^ Schmidt, Achim (2014). Competitive Cycling. Meyer & Meyer Verlag. p. 328. ISBN 9781782550334.
  11. ^ "www.CyclingRanking.com :: Team Ranking 1869 - 2010". cyclingranking.com. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Radio killed the tactical star". Cycling Central.
  13. ^ Andrew Hood, "Directors: UCI out of tune on race-radio ban", Velonews.com (September 27, 2009). Retrieved 3.06.2010
  14. ^ Brown, Gregor (25 September 2015). "UCI makes U-turn on team race radio ban". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  15. ^ Menaspà, P; Rampinini, E; Bosio, A; Carlomagno, D; Riggio, M; Sassi, A (2012). "Physiological and anthropometric characteristics of junior cyclists of different specialties and performance levels". Scand J Med Sci Sports. 22 (3): 392–8. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01168.x. PMID 20807389.
  16. ^ a b "The Olympic Games", ed: Killanin, Rodda, Collier Books, New York
Combativity award

The combativity award is a prize given in road bicycle racing to a stage's or the overall race's most aggressive rider.

Criterium

A criterium, or crit, is a bike race consisting of several laps around a closed circuit, the length of each lap or circuit ranging from about 800 m to 10,000 m.

Cycling team

A cycling team is a group of cyclists who join a team or are acquired and train together to compete in bicycle races whether amateur or professional – and the supporting personnel. Cycling teams are most important in road bicycle racing, which is a team sport, but collaboration between team members is also important in track cycling and cyclo-cross.

Did Not Finish

In racing, Did Not Finish (DNF) denotes a participant who does not finish a given race, either because of a mechanical failure, injury, or involvement in an accident. The term is used in all forms of racing, including automotive racing, horse racing, cycling, track and distance running, and skiing, among other types of racing. Athletes try very hard to avoid receiving a DNF, and many associate it with a negative stigma.

Directeur sportif

A directeur sportif (French for sporting director, although the original French term is often used in English-language media; plural directeurs sportifs) is a person directing a cycling team during a road bicycle racing event. It is seen as the equivalent to a field manager in baseball, or a head coach in football. At professional level, a directeur sportif follows the team in a car and communicates with riders, personnel and race officials by radio.

The directeur sportif warns of obstacles or challenging terrain, updates the team on the situation in the race, and provides mechanical help. The car carrying the directeur sportif also usually carries a bicycle mechanic with spare bikes, wheels and parts. It also carries spare water bottles, food and medical equipment.

In recent years the role has increased, in keeping with better team cohesion, tactics and communication and telemetry equipment. The directeur sportif can have split times, find where riders from other teams are in the race, and dictate orders to riders. This has made teamwork and tactics more important.

A directeur sportif can also be involved in the riders' training and racing programme. Many are former professionals, such as Johan Bruyneel and Sean Yates.

Gord Fraser described his role as directeur sportif as follows:

Probably the first thing is that I’m the person who has to come up with a tactical plan at the races that will maximize the potential of the team. I’m also a motivator. I have to have a good eye for talent. I have to have recruitment skills. I have to be good with media and sponsors. And it’s best if I’m not a reckless driver since I spend so much time driving in close proximity to people riding bikes. But really, it all goes back to having the right plan in place, and coming up with a good set of options, then making sure those scenarios are communicated to the riders so they can execute that strategy during the race.

Several directeurs sportifs are also associated with famous riders whom they have nurtured. Patrick Lefevère with Johan Museeuw and Tom Boonen, Cyrille Guimard's relationship with Bernard Hinault, and later Laurent Fignon; Jean de Gribaldy with Sean Kelly and Joaquim Agostinho; and Bruyneel with Lance Armstrong are examples.

General classification

The general classification (or the GC) in bicycle racing is the category that tracks overall times for bicycle riders in multi-stage bicycle races. Each stage will have a stage winner, but the overall winner in the GC is the rider who has the fastest time when all the stage results are added together and compounded. Hence, whoever wins the GC is generally reckoned as the winner of the race.

Riders who finish in the same group are awarded the same time, with possible subtractions due to time bonuses. Two riders are said to have finished in the same group if the gap between them is less than three seconds. A crash or mechanical incident in the final three kilometers of a stage that finishes without a categorised climb usually means that riders thus affected are considered to have finished as part of the group they were with at the 3km mark, so long as they finish the stage.

It is possible to win the GC without winning even one stage of a multi-stage race or to win the GC of the race without being the GC leader on any stage before the last stage of the race.

In many bicycle races, the current leader of the GC gets a special jersey awarded. In the Tour de France, the leader wears a yellow jersey, in the Giro d'Italia a pink jersey, in the Vuelta a España the leader's jersey is red, and in the Tour Down Under the leader's jersey is ochre. It is considered an honor to wear the special jersey.

The most important stages of a bicycle race for GC contenders are mountain stages and individual time trial stages. Both of these offer the best chance for a single racer to outperform other racers.

Green jersey

The green jersey is a term used in road bicycle racing and Grand Tour stage races in particular. The green jersey is a distinctive racing jersey worn by the leader in a subsidiary competition.While the overall race leader in the Tour de France will wear the yellow jersey, or "maillot jaune", the green jersey ("maillot vert") will be worn by the leader in the points competition. Since 2009, the Vuelta a España has also used the green jersey to signify the leader of the points competition. In the Giro d'Italia, the green jersey was, from 1974 to 2011, worn by the King of the Mountains, the leader in the competition for climbing specialists.

Hors catégorie

Hors catégorie (HC) is a French term used in stage bicycle races to designate a climb that is "beyond categorization". The term was originally used for those mountain roads where cars were not expected to be able to pass.

The HC climb is the most difficult type of climb in a race. It is more demanding than a Category 1 climb which in turn is more demanding than a Category 2 climb and so on. The easiest category is Category 4.

These five categories are defined by their steepness and length. In addition, their position on the route can play a role. For instance, a climb that would normally be a Category 1 climb can become a HC climb if it is the final climb of a stage.

The average HC climb in the Tour de France from 2012 to 2016 is 16.1 kilometers long and has a grade of 7.4. There are around 7 HC climbs per Tour.

Individual time trial

An individual time trial (ITT) is a road bicycle race in which cyclists race alone against the clock (in French: contre la montre – literally "against the watch", in Italian: tappa a cronometro "stopwatch stage"). There are also track-based time trials where riders compete in velodromes, and team time trials (TTT). ITTs are also referred to as "the race of truth", as winning depends only on each rider's strength and endurance, and not on help provided by teammates and others riding ahead and creating a slipstream. Individual time trial are usually held on flat or rolling terrain, although somtimes they are held up a mountain road (in Italian: cronoscalata "chrono climbing"). Sometimes the opening stage of stage race is a very short individual time trial called a prologue.

Starting times are at equal intervals, usually one or two minutes apart. The starting sequence is usually based on the finishing times in preceding races (or preceding stages in the case of a multi-stage race) with the highest ranked cyclist starting last. Starting later gives the racer the advantage of knowing what time they need to beat (and also makes the event more interesting to spectators). Competitors are not permitted to draft (ride in the slipstream) behind each other. Any help between riders is forbidden. The rider with the fastest time is declared the winner.

List of men's road bicycle races

This is a list of important men's road bicycle racing events. The list only includes road races, and no track, mountain or cyclo-cross races.

Pia Sundstedt

Pia Ann-Katrine Sundstedt (born 2 May 1975, in Kokkola) is a professional former cyclist, who competes in road bicycle racing and mountain bike racing, as well as cross country skiing events. Sundstedt competed in the Summer Olympics for Finland. Having started in 2006, Sundstedt competes for Rocky Mountain/Business Objects mountain bike racing team.

In 2000, Sundstedt won the Montreal World Cup event and competed for Finland at the 2000 Summer Olympics. In recent years, the four-time national Finnish national road cycling champion focused her attentions toward marathon mountain bike races and cross country skiing events. Her efforts paid off in 2006 when Sundstedt captured two World Cup events and the overall individual points championship in the UCI World Cup for Cross Country Marathon (XCM).

In 2008, Sundstedt came 1st in the Women's Category at the Absa Cape Epic with team mate Alison Sydor.

She competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the Women's road race, finishing 20th and in the Women's time trial finishing 11th.

Points classification

The points classification is a secondary award category in road bicycle racing. Points are given for high finishes and, in some cases, for winning sprints at certain places along the route, most often called intermediate sprints. The points classification is the top prize for many cycling sprinters and is often known as the sprint classification; however, in some stage races these classifications are based on different criteria.

The points classification is arguably the second most important title and cycling jersey to win at a cycling stage race behind the general classification, which is the winner of the event by overall time.

Puncheur

Puncheur, or puncher in English, is a name given to a road bicycle racer who specialises in rolling terrain with short but steep climbs.Ideal races for this type of rider are the one-day spring classics. These races are characterized by multiple hills that have a 10–20% gradient and are 1–2 km long. Examples include climbs at Liège–Bastogne–Liège, the Mur de Huy in the Flèche Wallonne and the Cauberg in the Amstel Gold Race, which comprise the Ardennes classics.

Puncheurs are usually relatively well built, with broader shoulders and bigger legs than the average racing cyclist. The physique of this type of rider allows them to escape from the peloton through quick bursts, sometimes with the assistance of a teammate.

Examples of such racers include Philippe Gilbert, Julian Alaphilippe, Simon Gerrans, Joaquim Rodríguez, and Peter Sagan, who are able to sprint up the shorter climbs to win a stage or a single-day race. Often these racers have had a career in mountainbike racing, where there are many shorter but steep climbs.

However, their lower endurance is a disadvantage in stage races where the climbs are usually longer (5–20 km), albeit at lower gradients (5–10%). In stage races they often work as domestiques for team leaders, reeling in breakaways, or go on the attack to force rival teams to expend energy to close them down.

Race stage

In sports, a stage, or leg, or heat, is a unit of a race which has been divided in several parts for the reason such as length of the distance to be covered, as in a multi-day event. Usually, such a race consists of "ordinary" stages, but sometimes stages are held as an individual time trial or a team time trial. Long races such as the Tour de France, Absa Cape Epic or the Giro d'Italia are known for their stages of one day each, whereas the boat sailing VELUX 5 Oceans Race is broken down in usually four stages of several weeks duration each, where the competitors are racing continuously day and night. In bicycling and running events, a race with stages is known as a stage race.

Road cycling

Road cycling is the most widespread form of cycling. It includes recreational, racing, and utility cycling. Road cyclists are generally expected to obey the same rules and laws as other vehicle drivers or riders and may also be vehicular cyclists.

Team Pratomagno Women

Team Pratomagno Women (UCI team code: TPW) was a women's UCI cycling team based in Uzbekistan, which competed in elite road bicycle racing events such as the UCI Women's Road World Cup. The team only existed in the 2013 women's road cycling season.

Team classification

The team classification is one of the different rankings for which competitors can compete in a multiple stage cycling race. It differs from the other usual rankings (general classification, points, king of the mountain and best young rider competition) in the sense that it awards the effort of a whole team, rather than the performance of the individual riders.

Examples include:

Team classification in the Giro d'Italia; awarded since the race's inception. In more recent editions the classification is calculated by adding up the top three riders' times from each team, and then the team with the lowest total time is the leader of the classification. In case of a tie, the teams are separated by the sum of the places obtained by their three best riders at the finish.

Team classification in the Tour de France; awarded since 1930, and the calculation has changed throughout the years. As of 2011, it is calculated by adding the times of the three best riders of each team per stage; time bonuses and penalties are ignored. In a team time trial, the team gets the time of the fifth rider of that team to cross the finish, or the last rider if there are fewer than 5 left for the team. If a team has fewer than three cyclists remaining, it is removed from this classification.

Team classification in the Vuelta a España; awarded since its inception in 1935.

Team time trial

A team time trial (TTT) is a road-based bicycle race in which teams of cyclists race against the clock (see individual time trial for a more detailed description of ITT events).

The winning team in a TTT is determined by the comparing the times of (usually) the fourth-finishing rider in each team (though the relevant finish position can be otherwise specified in advance by the race organisers). This means that each team will try to get their first four (at least) riders across the finish line in a tight group: it is actually a disadvantage for any rider to finish far in advance of the fourth rider, as by staying back a faster rider can help the fourth rider to get a quicker time.

Where a TTT is part of a stage race, it is necessary for each rider to be given a finish time that can be cumulated into the general classification timings. Hence, all riders in the team who finish in the leading bunch are given the time of the fourth rider, and any rider who has been dropped is timed individually in the usual way.

Teams start at equal intervals, usually two, three or four minutes apart. Starting sequences will usually be based on individuals' times in previous events, but in TTTs conducted as part of a multi-stage road race (such as the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia) the highest ranked teams will normally start later. Later starters have the advantage of knowing what times they need to beat (and this also makes the event more interesting to spectators).

Unlike individual time trials where competitors are not permitted to 'draft' (ride in the slipstream) behind each other, in team time trials, riders in each team employ this as their main tactic, each member taking a turn at the front while teammates 'sit in' behind. After their turn, the lead rider will swing over, allowing the next rider to take the lead, while the leader goes to the back of the team.

Should one team overtake another, the overtaken team would be expected to drop back.

Time trialist

A time trialist is a road bicycle racer who can maintain high speeds for long periods of time, to maximize performance during individual or team time trials. The term cronoman, or chronoman, is also used to refer to a time trialist; this term is often used by Davide Cassani in his commentaries.

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