Bicycling (South Africa)
The Tour is where we see cycling’s oldest traditions on display. Expect the peloton to follow these unwritten rules about when you can and can’t attack.
If the majority of the peloton is on the side of the road answering nature’s call, attacking is a big no-no. No attacking in a feed zone. The consequences for doing so? The next time the offending team’s riders stop for a bathroom break, the peloton will purposely up the pace. (Team Sky learned this the hard way in 2010.) If the yellow jersey has a mechanical or some other unusual mishap, his adversaries should ease up. At the 2003 Tour, Jan Ulrich waited for Lance Armstrong after the
American’s handlebar got caught in a fan’s bag. If the race is set to pass through a rider’s hometown during a slow portion of a stage, he’s allowed to ride in front of the pack with enough time to greet his friends and family. To use that advantage to go on a breakaway would earn the sustained ire of every rider in the race. If the riders deem race conditions to be unsafe, they can decide as a whole not to contest a stage, such as on Stage 2 of the 2010 Tour when wet and slippery conditions
led race leader Fabian Cancellara to declare that the peloton would not sprint for second place behind French rider Sylvain Chavanel. Despite what the rulebook says, riders who have been dropped can use team cars (even those from other teams) to pace back up to the peloton, so long as it’s not during a crucial part of the stage. Riders fighting for the yellow jersey won’t attack each other on the last day. Paris is essentially a victory lap for the rider in yellow.