Professional cyclists can be defined by various categories. Climbers, sprinters are the obvious ones but there are specific skillsets required for certain roles. Such as a puncheur. Specialist insurance provider, JLT have created a guide to help you understand the different specialists that make up a cycling team.
A puncheur is used to describe a rider who excels on short and steep climbs. They have good explosive power and don’t have heavy muscle bulk of a sprinter but are not the best at climbing long steady ascents in the mountains. Ideal length of climb for a puncheur is anything between 800m and 2 kilometres.
Domestique is a French word used regularly in the world of cycling. It translates to servant. A Domestique is a rider who is there to primarily help others and not get their own results. Each Tour of Britain team will be built around one or two leaders with the rest made up of helpers.
The Domestique’s job is the save their leader as much energy as possible. They protect them from the wind by riding in front of them, stop and wait with the leader after a puncture and pace them back to the peloton and Marshall the leader to the front of the peloton for crucial points in the race. They will also go back to the car to collect food, water or clothing. Domestique’s job is crucial and it is very hard to win a race without team’s support.
Cycling is a sport in which there are many types of specialists. Those who are strong against the clock, those who can climb up mountains like Chris Froome and those who can sprint such as Mark Cavendish. A Rouleur is someone that isn’t exceptional at any of these disciplines and is a good all-rounder. Not only are they good all round but they are consistent and they will often slip into the role of Domestique whilst still able to take personal victories.
Sprinters have high short-term power output. The best road sprinters can create 1600 watts power output and create this power for at least two minutes and accelerate very quickly. The best sprinters have a sixth sense of where they need to be and when and are able to jostle for position in the peloton in the final 10 kilometres of a race, even when the pace is high. It might sound easy but rubbing shoulders with 20 other cyclists at 35 mph is something only the skilled and brave can do.
Sprinters have great tactical nouse and need to read the race situation, if its a tail wind they may need to start their sprint earlier, if there is a cross wind they’ll need to move to the side of the barrier for protection or a headwind leave their sprint until very late.