Tactics and strategy are very important at long stage cycling competitions like Tour de France. More important, in fact, that it may seem to a regular spectator.
There’s a reason why riders come into this race in teams because it’s much easier to achieve more when there are riders to help each other out while on the road and work as a team to maximise the result of each individual.
There’s a lot to learn here if you haven’t thought much about the interactions of the professional cyclists when they compete. We will take a look at these Tour de France tactics and see how essential they are in the grand scheme of things.
Tour de France Tactics
While the same rules apply to all road races that include more stages than a single one-day event, you can see the most of such tactics in practice at Tour de France.
Since Tour de France encompasses 21 days of intense riding, most of the tactics in this competition revolves around energy output of each rider and ways to preserve energy for when it’s needed the most.
Wind, elevation and specialty of competitors all play a major role in the speed of the cyclists. But there are ways to counter wind resistance with the help of other riders and the formation of the team, which is called peloton.
The players will often rotate in their formation and share the strain this way. Each cyclist’s position in the formation will also depend on their role in the team. There’s usually a single athlete whose job is to perform the best while other team members are there to support him.
All this and more tactics are explained below and more directly.
Cycling Tactics Explained
Team members often ride close to one another, because it’s easier to do this than to ride separately. They usually breakaway only when individual results could be better than collective ones in case of, for example, riders who are extremely good sprinters or hill climbers.
The peloton is a formation of the cyclists that consists of one or two rows of riders against the direction of the wind. The front riders block the wind resistance this way so that those behind could preserve energy.
This may sound trivial, but one can actually save a lot of energy this way, and cyclists like to rotate in the formation so that everyone could get a breather, according to the situation.
Participants who plan to put the most effort before the end of the race are usually in the middle of the peloton and different riders may spend varying amount of time at the front of the formation where it takes the most effort to keep going at a steady pace.
However, it isn’t always the best tactics to ride all together and certain players will often break away and ride on their own in front of the team. That can be done in an attempt to reach a better personal result or simply to show off, among other reasons.
There are many complicated tactics in Tour de France race that are in effect among the team and riders, almost invisible to a regular spectator.