Common Bicycle Terms You Should Know

Directeur/director sportif: The team coach and/or manager. French for "sporting director."

Doping: Using chemicals or substances to boost performance—usually refers to the use of substances that have been banned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling's international governing body.

DNF: "Did not finish" race or stage.

DNS: "Did not start" a stage during a stage race. Rider not allowed to continue racing if they elect not to start a stage.

Domestique: A team rider who will sacrifice his/her individual performance to help a designated teammate. Duties can include giving up one's bike for another rider, supplying refreshments to teammates, catching breakaway riders. French for "servant."

Draft: To ride closely behind a competitor, saving energy by using that racer as a wind break. Riding behind a rider is much less strenuous and can give a 30 percent energy-savings advantage.

Drop, dropped: When a rider can no longer maintain contact with another rider or group of riders and trails off the back.

Echelon: A staggered line of riders, with each rider positioned downwind and off to the side of the rider ahead, creating a diagonal effect. In strong crosswinds, a large group will form into echelons.

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Feed station/zone: An area where riders can pick up both food and liquid refreshments, usually placed in a slower-paced area such as an uphill section. It's an unwritten rule that riders do not attack a group in the feed zone.

Field sprint: A sprint at the finish among the main group (peloton) of riders in a road race.

Force the pace: To increase speed to make the group go faster.

Gap: The amount of time or distance between a rider or group of riders and another rider or group.

Gear: The mechanism on a bike that changes its rate of motion via a combination of front chainring and rear sprocket; 'low' gears are easier to pedal (usually used when riding uphill), and 'high' gears are harder to pedal (usually used on flats or for faster speed).

General Classification, GC: The overall time rankings in a race. The rider with the lowest cumulative time is first place on the GC.

Grand tour: A major stage race, usually lasting up to three weeks. The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy), and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) are the three grand tours of international pro cycling.

Granny gear: The smallest front chainring combined with the biggest rear sprocket to make the lowest (easiest to pedal) gear.

Hammer: To ride hard.

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