QUIZ: Which peloton persona are you?

Illustration: Max Kaplun

Illustration: Max Kaplun


Whatever your mental make up, there’s a role for you in a professional cycling team. Here, we break down the different peloton personas with a little help from cycling broadcaster and journalist, Laura Winter

This is the workhorse, the unsung hero and the best-loved member in a squad – at least by the other riders. Domestiques are versatile, often giving shelter to the leader to ensure they win, controlling the breakaway or responsible for seeking water to pass to the team. Dedicated, selfless and motivated by the team’s success instead of herself, few riders work harder.

Winter’s ones to watch
“You don’t usually get famous by being a domestique, but stand-out performers from the Women’s WorldTour include Ellen van Dijk and Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) and Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolmans). 

Sound like you?
Hardworking, dedicated, selfless

Big, strong and fast, the time-trial specialist is an important weapon. When not going for solo glory on TT courses, expect to see their talent for laying down MEGA WATTS used to control escapes from the pack or create them. Some of the most exciting solo victories are frequently won when a solid TT rider takes a flier off the front of the peloton in the final 20km of a stage. Some argue that the best TTs enter a trance-like meditative state where the hurty can’t reach them.

Winter’s ones to watch
“Ellen Van Dijk and Annemiek Van Vleuten are among the best Peloton TTers out there and have both turned their ability to really fudging hurt themselves into solid gold in service of their teams.”

Sound like you? 
Zen-like calm, high pain threshold, laser-focus

The leader is the person the team is working together for – shielding them, controlling the field for them and generally ensuring the leader has the best chance of winning.

A good team leader needs the strength of character to thrive under pressure, the self-belief to demand that the team rides for them and the talent to take that podium top spot.

In most teams, different types of race will have different leaders, as different skills are required. In a stage race, for example, consistency is key, with each day an exercise in maintaining great form, rather than going all-out for one win and leaving nothing in the tank for subsequent days. It takes incredible concentration to do that. For one-dayers, the opposite is true. A leader must be ready to seize any opportunity to break. This race is hugely tactical, so you need a cast-iron nerve to hold until the moment is right to go hell for leather. 

Winter’s ones to watch
“Boels-Dolmans are unusually blessed with leaders, including the ferocious Lizzie Deignan, Anna van der Breggen and Megan Guarnier. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is the leader for Cervélo Bigla, while Kasia Niewiadoma will be the star rider for Canyon/SRAM, at least for the spring classics.”

Sound like you?
Confident, nerves of steel, master tactician

This cyclist has the goal of positioning the leader and protecting her. To make this happen, they must negotiate the maelstrom of bodies that mass at the front of a sprint stage, battling and sometimes even barging their way into any sliver of clean air in order to give the leader the protection they need before they drop a watt-bomb and snatch a lead. 

If a team doesn’t have a good lead-out woman, leaders simply can’t win. Tenacity and aggression are essential, alongside a lack of fear when things go totally tonto in that all-important final kilometre.

Winter’s ones to watch
“Expect to see Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon//SRAM) and Dani Rowe (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) shepherding their sprinters to victory this season. Saying that, teams are prepared to adapt, so don’t be surprised to see the lead-out women mixing it up and doing whatever the race needs.”

Sound like you? 
Tenacious, aggressive, fearless, a born battler

When you’re clinging on to the wheel in front of you and the sides of your vision are going wobbly from the exertion, you need someone to tell you when to move up, when to ease off and when to attack. That’s where the road captain comes in. This is typically a veteran cyclist who acts as manager inside the team. It’s their job to read the race and to make sure they execute pre-agreed strategies at the right time. Of course, bike racing rarely goes to plan and, in many cases, the road captain’s most vital role is to react to the chaos and marshal the troops. A cool head is paramount, as is the capacity for super-fast decision-making.

Winter’s ones to watch
“Molly Weaver joined Trek-Drops this season to fulfil this role. Weaver is young for a road captain, but has the experience – and racing brain – to really do the job. Veteran campaigners who call the shots include Julia Soek (Team Sunweb), Canyon//SRAM’s Trixi Worrack and Elisa Longo Borghini for Wiggle High5.”

Sound like you?
Quick-witted, calm and a master of big-picture thinking

Get more from Laura Winter here

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