Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Road bicycle racing
Road bicycle racing is a popular sport all over the world, especially in Europe. The most competitive and devoted countries are generally thought to be Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, although the United States also have a high international standing, and many countries the world over do well in certain disciplines.
Road races can be categorized by length and type:
- Single-day races: The competitor to cross the finish line first is declared the winner.
- Multi-stage races: Consists of several 'stages' ridden consecutively.
The competitor with the lowest cumulative time to complete all the stages is declared the overall, or General Classification (GC), winner. Most stage races also have other categories of winners such as the stage winner, the points winner, and the "king of the mountains" winner.
A stage race can also be a series of road races and time trials. The stage winner is the first person to cross the finish line that day or the time trial rider with the lowest time.
- Open road race: Generally going from point A to point B; can include multi-laps.
- Criterium : Generally a circuit race with multiple laps around a short, usually 4-cornered course; often includes primes (points or prizes for intermediate laps).
- Individual time trial: Every rider starts apart, and the rider with the fastest time wins.
- Team time trial : Riders start in groups or teams, usually of a fixed size. The time of the nth rider of a team counts for the classification.
- Trials is a sport where riders navigate natural and man-made obstacles without putting down their foot, or "dabbing". Similar to motorcycle trials .
- Blocking is used by riders of one team who sit at the front of a group to control the speed, often to the advantage of one of their teammates.
- A break is a small group of riders that have pulled away from the peleton.
- A domestique is an individual riding in a support role for a team leader.
- An echelon is a form of paceline used to get maximum draft in a crosswind.
- A leadout is a sprinting technique often preformed by the leadout man where the rider will accelerate to maximum speed close to the sprint point with a teammate, the sprinter, drafting them from behind. When the leadout man is exhausted his will moved to the side to allow his teammate to race in the sprint.
- A paceline is formed with the riders all drafting one another. Riders will take turns at the front to break the wind, then rotate to the back of the line to rest in the draft. Larger group rides will often form double pacelines with two columns of riders.
- The peloton (from French, literally meaning ball and related to the English word platoon) is the large main group in a cycling road race.
- A sag wagon is a support vechicle following long races to pick up riders unable to complete the race.
Famous bicycle races
The most famous cycling race is the Tour de France, a multi-stage tour over three weeks through France, traditionally ending in Paris. Similar long multi-stage tours are held in Italy (the Giro d'Italia) and Spain (the Vuelta a Espaņa). These three races make up the "Grand Tours".
Professional racing is governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale. In 2005 a new series UCI ProTour was unveiled to replace the UCI World Cup series which contained only one-day races. In contrast, the new UCI ProTour includes stage races such as the grand tours Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espaņa, and smaller stage races such as Paris-Nice and the Dauphine Libere .
The most important one-day races are part of this new ProTour: Milan-San Remo (Italy), Tour of Flanders (Belgium), Paris-Roubaix (France), Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge (Belgium) and Amstel Gold Race (Netherlands) in spring, Clasica San Sebastian (Spain), HEW-Cyclassics Cup (Germany), Championship of Zürich (Switzerland), Paris-Tours (France) and Giro di Lombardia (Italy) in autumn.
The Race Across America, or RAAM is an ultra marathon road race. It is a single stage race without designated rest periods about 3,000 miles or 4,830 kilometers long over 9 days with cyclists racing approximately 22 hours a day.
For a more extensive list see: List of important cycling events
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