Scott Wilson helps fans tell their peloton from their parcours...


Also known as 'the bus', this is the group of riders who congregate together at the back of the race in the mountain stages. Generally comprising sprinters and other non-climbers, their aim is to finish the stage within the day's time limit.


A rider or group of riders who break into a lead over the main bunch during a stage. They will attempt to keep the chasing pack at bay until the finish line.

Bunch sprint

The mass sprint for the line at the end of a stage when a large group of riders are still tightly packed together. Teams will often attempt to engineer a bunch sprint finish if they boast a specialist sprinter such as Mark Cavendish in their ranks.


Literally meaning 'aggression', the award for combativite is bestowed on the rider who is most involved in attacks, chasing down escapes and generally riding in a positive manner. Daily points are awarded according to how riders conduct themselves.

Directeur sportif

As the head of a team, the directeur sportif is a combination of manager, selector and coach. Their roles include selecting riders for a specific tour, developing and adapting tactics during a stage, coaching and mentoring team members and dealing with the media.


The domestiques are the 'worker bees' of a team, responsible for protecting and supporting the lead riders who are expected to win stages and compete for the yellow jersey. They ferry food and water to their team leaders and are often expected to chase down breakaways and sacrifice their own ambitions for the good of the team.

Lanterne rouge

The lanterne rouge or 'red light' is the last rider on the overall classification. Intended as a term of endearment, there is a sense of honour in completing the Tour, even if it means being at the back of the field.

Lead out man

A rider who specialises in blazing a trail for a specialist sprinter to follow at the end of a stage. The lead out man makes the initial burst, before the sprinter pulls out of their slipstream to produce a late, and hopefully decisive, burst for the line. The two riders often form a close relationship and move teams together.


Translated as 'course', the parcours is simply the race route on a specific day. Set well in advance, some stages follow well-known routes that have been ridden many times before.


One of the best-known phrases at the Tour de France, the peloton is the largest group of riders on a specific stage. Literally meaning 'group', the peloton will often work together to chase down a breakaway group of riders.


A rider who specialises in consistent riding, often during the key middle section of a stage. Sometimes knows as a 'super-domestique', rouleurs are extremely highly-valued members of a team who are often some of the most experienced riders on the Tour.


The still air immediately behind a rider. While racing, riders expend a lot of energy combating air resistance, so there is an advantage to be gained from cycling immediately behind a competitor and benefiting from the barrier provided by their body.


A rider who specialises in accelerating extremely quickly at the end of a stage. Sprinters often boast physiological characteristics that make them so effective, such as a high proportion of fast-twitch fibres.

Team car

The car that the directeur sportif, mechanics and other staff ride in during a stage. The team car is a team's mobile base, and the hub of a day's tactical calculations and instructions.

Team leader

A team's best rider, and the cyclist who the rest of the team are there to support during the Tour. Occasionally, the identity of the team leader can change as the Tour unfolds and the best chance of overall victory or a points jersey becomes clear.

Time bonus

Time bonuses are awarded in some stages for the top finish positions or intermediate sprints. They are generally on offer in the first week of the Tour to help generate more exciting racing.

Time limit

Riders on each stage must finish within a certain percentage of the winner's time, otherwise they are eliminated. The exact percentage varies according to the type of stage, and in certain circumstances, the race organisers have the discretion not to exclude anyone.