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The peloton during the 2005 Tour de France. Clustering of the teams is apparent. TourDeFrance 2005-07-08.JPG
The peloton during the 2005 Tour de France. Clustering of the teams is apparent.

In a road bicycle race, the peloton (from French, originally meaning 'platoon') is the main group or pack of riders. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) near (particularly behind) other riders. The reduction in drag is dramatic; riding in the middle of a well-developed group, drag can be reduced to as little as 5%-10%. [1] Exploitation of this potential energy saving leads to very complex cooperative and competitive interactions between riders and teams in race tactics. Peloton in French mean gathering of various people , animals or thing as such it is not subject to trademark Example are :peloton in French military aviation = a triangular flying formation , in army = a unit of it , Firing squad = peloton d'execution , wool yarn + peloton de laine ,ball string = peloton de ficelle , industry group = peloton d'industries , pack of animals = pack . i The term is also used to refer to the community of professional cyclists in general, as in 'the professional peloton.'

Road bicycle racing bicycle racing sport

Road bicycle racing is the cycle sport discipline of road cycling, held on paved roads. Road racing is the most popular professional form of bicycle racing, in terms of numbers of competitors, events and spectators. The two most common competition formats are mass start events, where riders start simultaneously and race to set finish point; and time trials, where individual riders or teams race a course alone against the clock. Stage races or "tours" take multiple days, and consist of several mass-start or time-trial stages ridden consecutively.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Platoon Military unit size, usually composed of two of more squads or equivalent units

A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads/sections/patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but typically, per the official tables of organization as published in U.S. military documents; a full-strength U.S. infantry rifle platoon consists of 39 Soldiers or 43 Marines. There are other types of infantry platoons, depending upon service and type of infantry company/battalion to which the platoon is assigned, and these platoons may range from as few as 18 to 69. Non-infantry platoons may range from as small as a nine-man communications platoon to a 102-man maintenance platoon. A platoon leader or commander is the officer in command of a platoon. This person is usually a junior officer—a second or first lieutenant or an equivalent rank. The officer is usually assisted by a platoon sergeant. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer.



Team Sky riding in a straight line to increase slipstreaming, thus reducing drag and conserving energy for cyclists behind, often for key riders such as sprinters or GC cyclists. Volta ao Algarve 2012 Team Sky.jpg
Team Sky riding in a straight line to increase slipstreaming, thus reducing drag and conserving energy for cyclists behind, often for key riders such as sprinters or GC cyclists.

The peloton travels as an integrated unit (similar in some respects to birds flying in formation) with each rider making slight adjustments in response to their adjacent riders (particularly the rider in front of them). Riders at the front are fully exposed to wind resistance, hence experience much higher fatigue loads. After a period of time at the front, they will manoeuvre farther back in the peloton to recover. With sufficient room to manoeuvre, the peloton appears in time lapse as a fluid cloud, with an endless stream of riders pushing from the back through to the leading edge, then falling away.

Bird Warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrates with wings, feathers and beaks

Birds, also known as Aves, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich. They rank as the world's most numerically-successful class of tetrapods, with approximately ten thousand living species, more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds. Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moa and elephant birds. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in flightless birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species of birds. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming.

V formation

A V formation is the symmetric V-shaped flight formation of flights of geese, ducks, and other migratory birds. V formations also improve the fuel efficiency of aircraft and are used on military flight missions.

The shape or formation of the peloton changes according to many factors. When two or more groups of riders have reason to contest control of the peloton, several lines may form, each seeking to impose debilitating fatigue on the other teams. Fatigue is a decisive factor in the outcome of every race.

A strong headwind or a hard effort tends to spread out or string out the riders into a long narrow formation, sometimes single file. A slow pace or brisk tailwind greatly relieves the fatigue penalty for riding in a formation that fills the road from one side to the other, and in these situations riders ride side by side.

While the riders at the very front encounter the greatest air resistance (and also those on the windward side when there is a significant crosswind), those behind the first few riders near the front enjoy critical advantages.

Being close to the front means that the rider can see and react to attacks from competitors, and changes in position, with far less effort. Gaps sometimes form in the peloton, and being close to the front reduces the risk of getting caught in the rear group if a break occurs in the peloton, for example, after a crash. Riders near the front are much less likely to have delays due to involvement in crashes.

There is increasing risk of delays or injury from involvement in crashes as one falls farther back in the peloton. In addition, riders are increasingly affected by the accordion effect (aka elastic band/concertina/slinky effect) in which a change in speed becomes amplified as it propagates to the back of the peloton. The riders following must anticipate and brake early to avoid collisions when the peloton slows. Touching wheels for even a moment normally results in a crash, which spreads across the field in chain reaction as the densely packed riders cannot avoid hitting downed riders and bikes. The entire peloton behind the crash may be stopped.

In physics, the accordion effect, known also as the slinky effect, concertina effect, elastic band effect, and string instability, occurs when fluctuations in the motion of a travelling body causes disruptions in the flow of elements following it. This can happen in road traffic, foot marching, bicycle and motor racing, and, in general, to processes in a pipeline. These are examples of nonlinear processes. The accordion effect generally decreases the throughput of the system in which it occurs.

Being close to the front is also critical in strong crosswind conditions. Cross winds create a significant fatigue penalty for everyone, unless riders form moving groups called echelons in which riders collaborate to form a 'paceline' in a racetrack pattern angled across the road, with the leading rider on the upwind side of the road. Riders for a paceline, such as an echelon, sequentially change positions at short intervals so that no one rider must long accumulate excessive fatigue from facing maximum wind resistance at the leading edge. Echelons are necessarily limited in size by the roadway's width.

Echelon formation

An echelon formation is a formation in which its units are arranged diagonally. Each unit is stationed behind and to the right, or behind and to the left, of the unit ahead. The name of the formation comes from the French word échelon, meaning a rung of a ladder, which describes the shape that this formation has when viewed from above or below.

When a large peloton is exposed to a significant crosswind on a narrow road, the peloton cannot avoid breaking into a number of small echelons. Teams aware of wind conditions ahead, strong enough to move to the front, well experienced in echelon riding, can gain an important time advantage in these circumstances.

It is critical for riders in contention to win a race to remain near (but not at) the front of the peloton, especially when approaching sharp turns that require braking. Resuming pace after a sharp turn (especially into wind) routinely causes division in a peloton. Once a division occurs, if the will and collective strength of those wisely placed at the front is greater than those behind, the gap between the groups will remain (or increase) to the end of the race, because the extra air resistance for a single rider attempting to move forward to reach the front group imposes an extravagant fatigue penalty, as compared to those who remained aerodynamically protected in the peloton. This is particularly true at high speed on flat roads.

When a team maneuvers to the front of the peloton, it has placed itself in position to dictate the tempo of the race. Teams of riders may prefer a faster or slower tempo depending on the team's tactics.

Being near or at the front of the peloton is critical when initiating a breakaway.

Breakaway specialist

In bicycle racing, a breakaway specialist is a rider who is specialized in attacking the race from the start in order to show off his sponsor and to try his luck in winning the stage without having to fight with the whole peloton at the finish line.

A few strong riders will always attempt to break away from the main peloton, attempting to build such a commanding lead early in the race that the peloton cannot catch up before the finish. Breakaways may succeed when break riders are strong, especially if none of the riders in the break is a danger man (in contention for a win in the overall contest), and if they all pull together as a team. The rider (or riders) who are in the lead and have also successfully broken away from the peloton are referred to as Tête de la Course (a French expression meaning “head of the race”). The peloton will not allow a break with a danger man to get far ahead. Strong teams who want to bring their sprinter into contention for the win come to the front of the peloton and dictate a harsh pace, imposing fatigue on rivals, meanwhile breakaway riders (who individually must spend much more time exposed to the wind than peloton members) sequentially succumb to fatigue and are normally caught. Otherwise successful breaks often fall into disarray just before the finish, where rider calculations regarding personal chances for victory destroy the uneasy break alliance, meanwhile the peloton is catching up quickly.

Tactical factors also apply. [2] [3] [4] [5] Team tactics generally involve clustering their members within the peloton in order to maximize their ability to affect the peloton. For example, if a team member is currently in a breakaway group out in front of the main peloton, the remaining team members will normally make no attempt to accelerate the peloton, to maximize the chances of success for their breakaway group rider. Rarely, they may move to the front of the peloton, and actively seek to check the progress of the peloton at a critical moment. This tactic has the best chance of success on narrow roads, with tight turns, where a single team can fill the road from one side to the other.

Mountainous courses routinely create significant gaps in the peloton, as the aerodynamic factors are much less important at slower climbing speeds, and effort expended is the key determinant of progress. Under these circumstances strong riders routinely attempt to charge away from the main peloton. There are routinely 2 or 3 subgroups ahead of the main peloton, and 2 or 3 subgroups behind, as riders come to grips with individual limits to endurance at maximum energy output on a particular day.

A group of riders behind the main peloton is often called a 'grupetto,' Italian for 'a small group.' While technically every subgroup on the road could bear this appellation, in common usage it refers only to those at the rear of the main peloton, typically fatigued domestiques, along with sprinters striving to survive mountainous stages within the time cutoff, so to race again tomorrow.

When a break group's members have all been caught by the peloton, announcers say 'groupo compacto.'

Team members make every effort to shield their principal rider from fatigue due to wind, until the last possible moment, so to give their principal rider the best opportunity to win the race. In single stage races, the principal rider is normally the best sprinter. In races involving multiple stages, the principal rider is called the GC (General Classification) candidate. Those hired to usher the GC candidate (or sprinter) to the finish are called 'domestiques' (after the French word for servants).

In races where the finish is on flat roads, within a few kilometers from the finish, strong teams form into lines, with their principal sprint contender at the rear. The leading rider of each contending team drives forward at the highest pace he can achieve, until he reaches the limit of his endurance, when he then pulls off to the side, allowing the succeeding team member in line to drive forward to his limit. You can picture the entire road filled with lines of riders in colorful team jerseys, each striving to put their sprinter in the best possible position to win.

The team sprinter slipstreams at the rear to minimize fatigue due to air resistance until the last hundred meters or so, when the sprinter will choose the moment to dash out from behind his leadout rider to charge to the finish at the highest possible speed.

In mountainous races, the winner routinely arrives at the finish alone, because only the winner was willing and able to endure that degree of effort and suffering.

See also

Related Research Articles

In sports, a stage, or leg, or heat, is a unit of a race which has been divided in several parts for the reason such as length of the distance to be covered, as in a multi-day event. Usually, such a race consists of "ordinary" stages, but sometimes stages are held as an individual time trial or a team time trial. Long races such as the Tour de France, Absa Cape Epic or the Giro d'Italia are known for their stages of one day each, whereas the boat sailing VELUX 5 Oceans Race is broken down in usually four stages of several weeks duration each, where the competitors are racing continuously day and night. In bicycling and running events, a race with stages is known as a stage race.

Glossary of cycling Bicycling terminology guide

This is a glossary of terms and jargon used in cycling, mountain biking, and cycle sport.

2008 Giro dItalia, Stage 1 to Stage 11

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2010 UCI Road World Championships – Mens road race

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2015 La Flèche Wallonne

The 2015 La Flèche Wallonne was the 79th edition of the La Flèche Wallonne one-day cycling classic. It took place on 22 April and was the twelfth race of the 2015 UCI World Tour. La Flèche Wallonne is the second of the three Ardennes classics; it comes three days after the Amstel Gold Race and four days before the Liège–Bastogne–Liège. The defending champion in the race was Alejandro Valverde.

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The 2015 Giro d'Italia began on 9 May, and stage 11 occurred on 20 May. The race began with a team time trial from San Lorenzo al Mare to Sanremo.

The 2015 Giro d'Italia began on 9 May, and stage 12 occurred on 21 May.


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  4. Olds, Tim. "The mathematics of breaking away and chasing in cycling." European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 77.6 (1998): 492–497.
  5. Ratamero, Erick Martins. "Modelling Peloton Dynamics in Competitive Cycling: A Quantitative Approach." International Congress on Sports Science Research and Technology Support. Springer International Publishing, 2013.