Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Rules of Sprinting in the Tour de France

The 2010 edition of the Tour de France is approaching its conclusion in Paris. The race for the yellow jersey, or winner of the Tour, has been an exciting one. Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck have been the stand out riders in the mountain stages. The two are seperated by a small margin of only 8 second, which Contador gained because of a mechanical failure at a critical moment for Schleck.

Stage 18 of the race should put the focus back onto the sprinters, at least those that made it through the mountain stages. The stage sprint winner will rely on skilled lead out riding from their team mates and powerful sprinting to gain the victory. The 2010 Tour has seen dangerous and sometimes illegal moves in the sprints. Mark Renshaw, of team HTC Columbia, was disqualified for head butting another sprinter (not once but three times) as he lead out and created a sprinting lane for his team mate Mark Cavendish.

The sprints seem so chaotic that we wonder how anyone can get through without some illegal moves. The video below describes the cycling rules for sprinting and shows some examples of what is allowed and what can and should lead to disqualification.

How The Race Was Won - Rules of the Group Sprint from Cosmo Catalano on Vimeo.

So now we know the rules.

Two more sprints will be contested in the 2010 tour and we can look out for the way in which the sprinters and their lead out men ride their lanes and deviate from them to cut off opposing team riders.

Mark Cavendish is once again favored. With his speed and power he does not need his team mates to head butt other riders to get another win and without his lead out rider Renshaw, he will get his chance to show us.

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