Protect Your Leader

In the Tour de France 2018, each of the twenty-two competing teams will be employing a wide range of tactics to try and ensure their victory. Whilst these tactics can make the race all the more exciting, they can also make it all the more confusing as a spectator, especially if you’re a newbie to watching, or betting, on the event.

Luckily for you, in this series of posts we’re discussing some of the main tactics which will be used at the Tour de France 2018 and how they help the riders.

One of these such tactics will be the idea that each team must ‘protect their leader.’ Read on to find out exactly what this means, how it is executed and why it stands as one of the most effective and important strategies of the Tour de France.

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What Does ‘Protecting Your Leader’ Mean?

As the name suggests, ‘protecting your leader’ simply means ensuring that the front-runner in the team is protected. In each competing team of the Tour de France, there will be one rider who counts as a ‘GC contender’.

GC stands for General Classification and this is the category that tracks the overall times for the riders in each stage of the race. Each stage of the Tour de France will have a GC winner, yet the overall winner in the GC is the rider who has the fastest time when all the results from each stage are tallied up.

It’s easy, therefore, to see why the leader must be protected – for the team to win the Tour de France, of course.

The Domestiques

Every Tour de France winner will have a team of domestiques behind him. These are the riders who are in charge of protecting the leader, and whilst they won’t pick up a prize themselves, they arguably work harder than any other riders in the competition.

Each Tour de France team generally has nine riders, with one of these being the GC contender. This means that there are eight domestiques in each team who must make sure their leader is in the right place at the right time.

In protecting their leader, the domestiques have several jobs, which include:

  • Watching out for potholes, obstacles or uneven terrain
  • Carrying food and water for the leader
  • Protecting their rider from the wind
  • Providing a defence against jostling from other riders
  • Providing them with a spare wheel, or even their bike, if needed
  • Setting the pace
  • Ensuring they are in the best and safest position, which is usually towards the front of the peloton

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Does Protecting Your Leader Ensure Success?

In theory, yes. A protected leader is a successful leader, and so long as the domestiques carry out their jobs competently, the team’s GC has a better chance of success.

That being said, naturally, the overall winner of the Tour de France will have to have a high-level of personal ability and skill too.

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Protecting the Leader Betting Odds

The Tour de France 2018 will present sports bettors with a whole host of new markets to take a punt on. Whilst there are no real markets for ‘protecting your leader’, as explained in this guide, the team of domestiques are invaluable to the GC contender.

This means that when you’re weighing up which rider to back for the winner of the Tour de France 2018, you should also consider his team of protectors.