Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's Yer Holy Crap It's 18 Days to the Tour de France Intro to Cycling Lingo Part 2: Who the !$%! Are These Guys? #tdf2016

Yes, dear cycling noobs 'n' not so noobs, you now know what it is and where it happens! So who the hell *are* all those people out there, and what are they doin' there? We'll leave the individuals to watch for later, but here's Yer Official Racejunkie Cycling Vocab Part Deux!

Race Organizer: This is the big company that organizes the whole entire race. If your favorite rider wins, they get no credit for helping. But if your favorite rider chokes, don't worry: it's all the organizers' fault for designing such a !@#$ty course that was hand-tailored for one of his !@#$ty cheating rivals. Brilliant!

Directeur Sportif (or DS): He used to be a rider. Then he got old, like 34. Now he's a directeur sportif, and tells the riders what to do--yep, the wholly thankless job of race tactics and management. Saving grace: if you're *really* lucky, you have an unstable unpredictable delusional oligarch to report to. 'Til he fires you 'cause his champagne glass had a spot on it, anyway!

Peloton: It's the big giant lump of riders behind the race leaders and ahead of whatever poor b#stards are keeling over behind. You--in particular, your team leader--want to be as far up front in the group as possible in case some dimwit in the middle spaces out, brushes someone else's wheel, and takes half the racers down with him in a bloody, broken wreck. Unless of course that happens up near the front, where you are!

General Classification (or GC) Contender: Your top rider for the multi-stage races. If it's a one-day race, you can just call him 'captain.' He, of course, can call you whatever he wants. Bring me a fresh "Sprite," you worm!

Virtual Leader: if the race stopped *right* *now*, this guy'd be the leader of the race. Too bad you still got 84k to go, sap!

Sprinter: He bites at any climb higher'n two meters, but get him on a flat straight road near a finish line, and he's 200 meters of pure burnin' rocket fuel. And if you lose, you can always blame your:

Lead-Out Train: They mass at the front of the race at 1 k to go, flame themselves out like meteors setting the pace, then give you a wheel to chill behind 'til you're ready to unleash the pain. No lead-out? Just wheel-suck on someone else's--everyone's happy except that schmuck whose team just lost!

Domestique: A worker bee for the team leader, whether it's for the overall win in a stage race or just a one-day pile-on o' pain. You ride in front of 'im to protect 'im from the wind and let him ride in your slipstream (thus conserving energy), surround 'im so if there's a crash, you all go down first and get hurt worse, bring 'im snacks and water bottles, set a high pace to tire out his struggling rivals, give 'im your wheel or entire bike if he falls behind due to a crash or mechanical, and pace him back up to the peloton after a crash or hunger knock. All that, *and* you get to earn the UCI minimum rider wage! Don't worry--if you're a "superdomestique," you might even get a thank you in the post-race interviews, and etiquette dictates the lot of you share in the winner's prize money!

Climber: They're small. They're wily. And when everyone else is gacking in weaving, sluggish agony at the foot of the first climb of the day, these bantamweights are are whizzing up to the top of Mount Ventoux for the stage win. Oh Euskaltel!

Puncheur: If you don't pull your weight in a breakaway (see Part 1), and still try to be a weasel and win after other guys've done all the work for hours out in the miserable blasting wind, your fellow breakaway companions will "puncheur" the crap out of you after the stage. Ow, okay, I'll pull next time!

Classics Rider: not so relevant for the Tour, but for one-day spring races primarily in Belgium involving stabbing sleet, pounding rain, skating-rink cobblestones, and more mud and grit and frozen slop than you ever you'd eat, these are the hard men of the peloton. Now get out of my way before I crush you against my head like an empty beer can, mere mortal!

Autobus: You're a pure climber on a flat stage. Or, you're a sprinter on a mountain one. Or perhaps you put just a liiiiittle too much fiber in your muesli this morning, and your body, specifically your stomach, is in disgusting rebellion. Congrats, you're the back of the race--just hope you make the time cut today, and don't be afraid to take a brief--brief!--tow from your team car!

Lanterne Rouge: It's the very last-place rider at the very end of the entire 3 weeks of the entire Tour de France. And yes, that means he's *still* one of the most-!@# athletes on the planet. Bow, bow before your king, you peasant!

Podium Babe: Like Christmas ornaments, but sparklier. You pop 'em next to the stage/GC/jersey winner on the podium in a short skirt for a photo op and a big lipsticky smack on the cheek. Oh, *that*'s where you'd gone--welcome back, 1950, we *really* missed you!

Team Bus: You run and hide in it if you lose. If you're *really* having an embarrassing day, your DS'll throw you back out of it. Have fun walking back to the hotel in your bike shoes, hoser!

Team Car: It contains your DS, a mechanic, somebody who can patch you up if you crash, and an empty seat if you bonk so badly you need to abandon the race in a camera-friendly mire of rage and humiliation. It follows you around in case you need advice, a water bottle, a bandage, a tweak to your saddle, and a sympathetic ear. If you're a total wanker, you'll hold on to it for half a k up a climb and use it to slingshot yourself past the pathetic losers yacking up the climb on their own. Just don't pull that !@#$ in front of the cameras, you eejit!

Team Chef: yes, you *are* eating 50 pounds of plain white rice for breakfast. And you're gonna shut up and *like* it!

Soigneur: S/he hands you bags of food in the feed zone while you're on the fly. They wrangle your luggage, do your laundry, keep you organized, throw a towel around you when you're sweating (and smellin') like a pig at the end of the stage, and generally are absolutely indispensable making it possible for you to do *your* job. All hail the Swanny--trust me, you're not worthy, you're not worthy!

Mechanic: It's to the rider's credit if he wins, and entirely your fault if he snaps a chain, flats a tire, bangs a derailleur against a barrier, and loses the race. Also, you work approximately 56 hours per day. Don't worry, there's a coffee machine in the team bus!

Neutral Support Car: your team car is on the !@#-end of nowhere, so these folks'll give you a spare wheel when you hit a tack some !@#hat tossed on the road. Next year, pick a team that won't be ordered to sit a half an hour back in the queue!

Race Moto: They carry cameras, commentators, various officials, and an old-fashioned blackboard to tell you that your breakaway group is about to be caught. And if you're *totally* collapsing physically and mentally, wave to the TV cameras--or maybe some other gesture, instead!

And Last But Not Least, Most Important of All: Masseuse: self-evidently, this is your recovery savior after an exhausting, painful stage. But if you need pictures to explain the play-by-play, just Google "Filippo Pozzato" --though I wouldn't advise downloading the images at work!

Well folks, you've officially learned more'n you ever wanted to know about the players in the game, and if I missed anyone, let us know. Next up, Obscure Cycling Jargon So You Can Sound Way Way Cooler Than You Are!

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