The term peloton (from French: pelote = tangle ) referred to in road cycling the closed main field of vision.
While the term main field is defined, at least in the area of the German cycling federation BDR in connection with lapping at criteria and circuit races, the word use in sports journalism and in public is sometimes blurred: Depending on the race course is a peloton, the largest group of drivers, but also a larger group with favorites of the race called.
Due to the - with the exception of extreme slopes - the overwhelming importance of air resistance as the largest component of the services to be provided by the driver performance is predominantly driven in large groups in cycling for the use of the wind shadow. It starts in the mass start and the driver field remains closed most of the first few kilometers of the race together. As the wind behind the front man wanted for the air resistance, the distance to the vehicle ahead is usually between 20 cm and 2 m. The lateral distance of 20 cm to 1 m.
Reference point during the race
In the further course of the race - mostly in difficult track sections such as gradients, crosswind sections (wind edge ), winding curves or narrow roads and the like - there is so-called " breakaway " ( "attacks" ), during which individual drivers and more or less small groups try to settle by the peloton. The racing and group constellations change accordingly often.
The response to attacks in the main field is different: The teammates of ausreißenden drivers try to slow the peloton through the brakes and to prevent the disruption, while the opposing team try to " fully close the hole ", so to close the gap.
As with these tactical maneuvers, and at the end of the race, the peloton of the most important reference point for the driver. Thus suspended driver try as long as possible, connecting to abide by the peloton and possibly catch up again. If this fails, big time gaps are inevitable. In stage races with long mountain passes, therefore, the mountain weak Sprinter collect in a " second peloton ", the so -called " Gruppetto " to avoid major residues and thus to escape the exclusion by exceeding the waiting period.
Control of the main field by the captains
In cycling is not only " against each other " down. Alliances of convenience - in breakaways as the peloton - are commonplace. How this is done depends on the unwritten laws of cycling - such as food intake in the so-called food control, fall or defect of one of the favorites, local through traffic in the "home " of individual drivers - all you need is a short consultation among the captains to the main draw to slow to a moderate speed.
In the final round of one-day races or stages of round trips it is for the so-called Sprinter trains (Italian treni ) the sprint specialists, that is the three and six fastest and tempo strongest team helpers, the pace of the peloton hold up permanently to a mass sprint of the peloton allow. Accordingly, the average speed on the last five kilometers usually at 55-60 km / h, not infrequently it.