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Tour de France 101 – Helpful tips for new Tour fans

  • By Ben Delaney
  • Published Jun. 13, 2009
  • Updated Jul. 23, 2011 at 12:39 PM EST

How does a team worker help his leader?

Although an individual wins the Tour de France, he could not do so without the help of his eight teammates. The duties of a team rider (or “domestique”) include:

  • Riding “tempo” at the front of the pack to control the pace and prevent riders from rival teams from advancing up the road
  • Riding in front or to the side of the leader to protect him from the wind
  • Slowing down or dropping behind the field of riders to fetch fresh water bottles or food from the team car and taking them up to the leader
  • Stopping when the leader has a puncture, crash or mechanical problem, and helping pace him back to the peloton
  • Giving the leader one of his wheels (or his entire bike!) if the team car doesn’t arrive quickly enough to help
  • Pacing the leader up to a threatening breakaway
  • Pulling the leader up a mountain climb as long (and fast) as he can, to split up the group, to protect the leader from the wind and to discourage attacks by his rivals
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