Thursday, February 19, 2009

Domestique Rider

Could you imagine, you train hard, ride fast, work a lot for the sake of other people that normally called "Boss"? In cycling, there a numberous of riders that get their paid for this task. The riders called Domestique Rider. This unique role will begin when the wheels get rolled.

A domestique is a road bicycle racer who works solely for the benefit of his or her team and leader. The French domestique literally translates as "servant", though the French term for such a team worker is porteur d'eau (literally: water carrier, like the German Wassertr├Ąger).
In Italy and Spain, the term gregario (a kind of soldier of the roman legions, "one into the group" is used, while in Belgium and the Netherlands the term knecht ("servant") or helper ("helper") is used.
The domestique's own performance (finish time) is considered unimportant as long as he/she can help his/her leader achieve a better position in the race. They do not share the fame of the cycling leaders such as Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault or Lance Armstrong, but are vital to their efforts and can attract praise and attention from media and fans alike.
Occasionally domestiques achieve fame of their own, such as Lucien Aimar who supported the renowned Jacques Anquetil, but ended up winning the 1966 Tour de France. More recently, American Greg LeMond won the 1986 Tour de France after serving as Bernard Hinault's domestique in the 1985 Tour de France. The roles of the Domestiques and the sprinters can also be switched in races that are not as important to the sprinter.
For example, in 2005, Lance Armstrong served as a domestique for George Hincapie in the classic one day bike races, because they are more important to Hincapie and less important to Armstrong.

Basic Support
Some general important tasks carried out by the domestiques include retrieving water and nutrition from team cars and bringing it back up to the rest of the team and shielding teammates from aggressive opponents. They are also vital in helping teammates cope with mechanical disasters – should the leader suffer a puncture, the domestique will shield him as they pull over, wait with him until they have replaced the wheel, then cycle in front of him to create a slipstream allowing them to quickly reclaim their position.

A domestique may also be called upon to sacrifice his or her bicycle or one of the wheels, if the leader has a puncture, depending on the circumstances. In the finale of a race the latter is more common, earlier in the race the leader prefers waiting for the spare bike, which is specially prepared for the leader.

Tactical Support
Domestiques are also important for racing in a way that is in the tactical interest of their own team, or against the tactical interest of the opposing teams. By putting themselves in a breakaway they force other teams to chase the given breakaway. In turn, they may have to get to the front of the peloton to chase a breakaway that threatens their team's goals.Several domestiques will help sprinters by giving them a 'lead-out' - racing at a high tempo with the sprinter 'drafting' behind and conserving energy until the last few hundred metres.

The formation is called the lead-out train, at important professional races sometimes starting as early as 10-15 km to the finish with up to 6-8 domestiques setting a furious pace to discourage other riders from attempting to break away. One by one, worn-out team mates will drop off. The last team mate to lead a designated sprinter during the last 1-2 km is often a good sprinter himself, sacrificing his chances for his companion. The sprinter himself will launch him- or herself at high speed into a rapid dash to the finish line with only one or two hundred meters to go.

Similarly, on mountainous races or stages, the better Climbers help their team leaders by setting up a pace up the climbs, or thwarting attacks from other riders by following their wheel.

Hierarchy among domestiques and the Super Domestique
There is a kind of hierarchy among domestiques; the more accomplished riders among them, often called "lieutenants" or "super-domestiques" are called upon during especially critical times in a race. Generally, the lieutenant(s) will stay with the team leader as long as possible during especially demanding periods in a race.

For example, Lance Armstrong typically used two or three teammates to set a vicious pace during key mountain stages of the Tour de France before a late and often decisive attack. Examples of super-domestiques in the 2008 Tour de France are Andy Schleck (Team CSC) and George Hincapie (Team Columbia).

Individual glory
On tours like the Tour de France, domestiques sometimes get a chance to win stages. Typically this occurs in the latter parts of the race on an undulating but not too hilly stage. In such conditions, outright contenders will typically have no incentive to ride hard as the stage is not tough enough to "crack" strong climbers, but it is sufficiently tough to make it too strenuous for sprint specialists to keep up on the hills and win bunch finishes at the conclusion.

In the Tour de France, sprinters and their teams are often also waiting for the last stage on the Champs Elysees, which has a large number of sprint points available and is a very prestigious stage for a sprinter to win.

Therefore, in such conditions domestiques whose overall standings do not represent a threat to the leaders in the various jersey competitions will probably not be systematically chased down by other teams if they break away from the peloton. In this situation, they can have a chance to achieve a stage win.Riders serving as domestiques often progress to more senior roles in a team if they show sufficient ability.

Evolution of the domestique
The UCI points system changed the relationship between the domestiques and their team leaders. Prior to the introduction of the points system, riders in general were not concerned with their finishing order in the races.

However, with the introduction of the points system, professional riders are given points depending on their finishing order at every UCI-sanctioned race. This induces pressure on the domestiques to put into consideration their own performances, instead of sacrificing everything for their team leaders.

The 1990s saw the introduction of radio communication systems, allowing team members and managers a way to communicate, either one-way or two-way.

The importance of the team domestiques become greater, because a well-equipped and organized team can follow the evolution of the race and assign tasks to their riders regardless of where they are in the race. Sprint trains and climbing trains were developed with the increasing importance of team tactics, and at the same time team leaders are less likely to make early, risky attacks in the races.

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