Learn the lingo: Cycling terms to help you follow the action

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■ Attack: A sudden attempt to get away from another rider.

■ Big ringing it: A big gear — when the rider has his chain on the larger of the two front chainrings — allows a rider to go for maximum speeds. This gearing is most often used on flat or rolling terrain.

■ Blocking: When a rider tries to get in the way of other riders, usually done as part of a team strategy to slow down the main field when other team members are ahead in a breakaway.

■ Bonus Sprints: On each stage, race organizers designate several intermediate points along the route where bonus points are given to the first three riders who cross the line.

■ Breakaway: A rider or group of riders who have separated themselves ahead of the main pack.

■ Bridge the gap: When a rider or group of riders is attempting to reach a group farther ahead.

■ Chasers: Riders who are attempting to “bridge the gap” to catch the lead group.

■ Drafting: Riding closely behind another rider, which creates a slipstream, or air pocket. The lead rider expends as much as 30 percent more energy than the following rider does.

■ Echelon: A line of riders taking orderly turns at the lead and staggered so that each rider will get maximum protection from the wind. Also called a “paceline.”

■ Feeding: At some point during a long road race it is necessary for riders to replace expended energy. Riders are given a “musette,” a small cloth bag, containing food and water bottles. Riders grab the bag from the team support personnel, remove the contents and put them in the pockets of their jerseys to eat when most convenient. They generally prefer high-energy foods that break down quickly.

■ Field: The main group of riders, also known as the “pack,” “peloton” or “bunch.”

■ General classification: The overall leader board in the race, representing each rider‘s total cumulative time in the race. The rider with the lowest time is number one on the G.C.

■ Hook: When one rider, either on purpose or by accident, uses his/her rear wheel to hit the front wheel of the rider behind him/her.

■ KOM: King of the Mountain, awarded to a stage’s best climber.

■ Lead out: An intentional and often sacrificial move where one rider begins a sprint to give a head start to another rider (usually a teammate) on his rear wheel, who then comes around at an even faster speed to take the lead.

■ Mountain climb classification: Large mountain climbs are normally classified according to their difficulty. Category 4 is the easiest, followed by categories 3, 2, and 1. The Hors-categorie (French for above classification) is the most difficult. Mountain climbs are classified according to their length and the average gradient of the road’s incline.

■ Paceline: A group formation in which each rider takes a turn setting the pace at the front before puling off, dropping to the rear position, and riding the others’ draft until at the front once again.

■ Peloton: The main field, or pack of riders in the race. Peloton is French for a group moving forward. When the group is strung out, long and thin, the Peloton is traveling at a fairly high speed.

■ Pull: To take a turn at the front and break the wind for the other riders in the pack.

■ Sitting in: When one rider refuses to take a pull and break the wind for the group in which he/she is riding.

■ Team leader: The rider designated as the team’s best chance for a stage win, overall win, or jersey.

■ Velo: French for bike.

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