Cycling Terms & Phrases

Below are some phrases you may here if you watch cycling on TV and if your new to it a small helping hand to understand what is going on.

Peloton – The main group in a road race. Riders in the Peloton at the end of the race all receive the same time. Race control will decide if there is a split in the Peloton and award different times as appropriate.

Domestique – A road rider who works for the team, normally working hard on the front of the bunch. They give up their chance of winning the race for the benefit of the team leader.

Bunch Sprint – Occurs at the end of a flat stage where many riders are battling for the win. High pace and normally for the sprinters such as Cavendish & Sagan

Classic – A (famous) one day race such as the Amstel Gold Race or Paris/Roubaix that takes place on one day

Train – A line of riders in a single line or train with the rider on the front doing the most work. Often used by teams at the end of a stage to get their sprinter across the line first. HTC Highroad had a very effective “train” when Mark Cavendish won the Green Jersey in the 2010 Tour de France.

Lead out man – The rider who is last  in the train before the sprinter and will move over just before the end of the stage to release the sprinter to the line. Mark Renshaw was the lead out man for Cavendish at HTC before Cav moved to Sky.

Breakaway – A single or group of riders who have left the Peloton and are at the front of the race. Sometimes breakaways win the race and sometimes they are caught by the Peloton.

Cadence – the number of revolutions of the crankset per minute. How many turns do you pedel in a minute. A cadence of about 90 is good for the average rider. The cadence will depend upon the rider, the gearing and the course.

Spin the gears – This means keeping a high cadence so you could be in a lower gear and helps prevent the build up of latic acid in the legs, compared to maintaining speed with in a higher gear or crunchingthe gears. Lance Armstrong used to spin the gears during his career and now many riders have adopted this.

Cassette – The set of cogs on the rear of your bike otherwise known as gears. Cassettes come in different sizes

Compat/Double/Triple chainsets – The cogs on the front of your bike. Compact normally have a 50/34 ratio (teeth on the cogs) whilst doubles can be larger 52/42. Triples mean greater flexibility for the hills and are sometimes known as a granny ring. Ratios can be 50/39/30. It depends on the type of rider you are and what you use the bike for which will determine the chainset for you. Compacts are very common.

Crossing the chains – I heard this phrase during trhe mountain TT in the Giro when Team Sky Rigaberto Uran Uran. The chain is on the large front chainset and the largest sproket on the cassette. Some people don’t like this as it looks ugly. In my opinion at the end of the day you have to ride in the gear which helps you on the road.

Road Furniture Objects in the road which riders need to be aware eg parked cars

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