Most races are formulaic, especially at the pro level. In the team buses before each race, the majority of the directeurs will be mapping the day out for their riders in a similar fashion. The team leaders will be told to wait in the slipstream of their teammates and the peloton until the final hour or less of racing, where they’ll attempt to burst ahead. Until then, their only goal is to conserve energy and stay fresh for the finale. The domestiques will be tasked with protecting the leaders, keeping them fed, fueled, and in position. Each of the domestiques has a distinct role: some will be told to follow the attacks to ensure a combination of the right riders is in the early breakaway that forms, some might be asked to attack early. Others, who will wait patiently with the leader in the slipstream, will be required to increase the tempo to thin the peloton before the leader’s final attacks. Each rider will work selflessly in the wind, so that the leader can execute the goal.
Broken down, the tactics are simple to an experienced team, but to the neophyte fan or racer, they can seem puzzling. Continue reading.