Kids Guide to Cycle Road Racing


Cycle Road Race

What is a Cycling Road Race?

A road race sounds simple – it’s a bike race, on a road, and the first person to finish wins.

There are usually several riders in each team (or country) and they will work together to try and help the strongest rider win.

Because the race is such a long way and takes so many hours there’s a lot of different things that can happen.

Riders can go too fast at the start and find other competitors pass them at the end of the race, they can get injured or their bikes can get mechanical problems.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are crashes which mean riders lose time, or pull out of the race altogether.

Road Race - Racing Guide

What kind of bikes do they ride?

Road racing bikes are built to be fast, so they are lightweight with narrow tyres, brakes front and back and drop handlebars. They may have up to 24 gears to help the rider cope with varying terrain such as hills, mountains or fast and flat stretches of road.

What clothes do they wear?

Road race riders wear shorts and jerseys made from a lightweight tight-fitting fabric. The jersey will have a zip at the front to help get it on and give some air to the body in hot weather, with some pockets on the back for storing snacks and drinks. The shorts have a padded area at the seat to help with comfort over long distances.

If it starts raining heavily you may see the riders put on a waterproof layer – they keep on pedalling as they do this!

Road racing

Key words:

Peloton – the largest ‘bunch’ or ‘pack’ of riders in a race

Attack – sudden acceleration to move ahead of another rider or group of riders

Breakaway – a single rider (or small group of riders) who ride off from the front of the peloton in a race

Off the back – when a rider or riders cannot keep pace with the main group and fall behind

Domestique – a rider whose main job is to help the team leader win the race

Grand Tour – the three major professional cycling races which are the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) and Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain)

Do the riders get hungry and thirsty during the race?

Yes! They are riding a long way and need to keep eating and drinking along the route. There are official feed stations, where people hand out food and drink to the riders. Sometimes these are in a small bag which the rider can put over their shoulder, called a “musette”.

Do the riders need a wee during the race?

Because races last so long the riders will usually need a wee stop! Sometimes a rider will sprint off ahead and then take a quick stop at the side of the road and catch up again.

On longer races then the riders may decide to take a ‘pit stop’ and all go for a wee at the same time.

Some riders are even able to go while they’re riding along – let’s hope they have a bath afterwards!

Racing guide - road race

Keep your eyes open for a ‘sticky bottle’!

In some longer races where teams have a support car, you may see a rider that has dropped off the back of the peloton be caught up by his team car and handed a bottle of water to get a quick drink and refresh. However, when the rider hands the bottle back, they don’t let go and so get a cheeky ‘pull along’ from the car and get a quick boost of speed!

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