each team has a designated team leader; the remainder of the team consists of "domestiques" who shelter their team leader from headwinds, shuttle back to the team car to retrieve water and clothing, and chase down breakaways. only a few team leaders are capable of racing for the overall victory; the rest are content to contest stage wins. some racers specialize in the 40 mile-per-hour sprint finishes at the end of the flat stages; some are mountain goats looking for glory at the peak of the high mountains of the alps and pyrenees. the race is generally won or lost in the mountains, or during the long, individual time trials, since the sprint finishes usually result in the same finishing time for all riders.

the jerseys
most casual cycling fans are familiar with the bee-yellow jersey worn by the overall leader of the tour de france. but the tour also features three "races within a race." watch for the green jersey awarded the best sprinter, the polka dots that grace the best climber, and the white jersey of the top racer under age 25.

ride the tour de france (sort of)
although there are numerous organized tours that follow sections of the race route, only one is led by lance armstrongís personal coach, chris carmichael. at $7,350 (single occupancy) or $6,950 (double occupancy), the weeklong tours aren't cheap, but with carmichaelís insight, and professional masseuses and bike mechanics on staff, they;re about as close as you can get to living the life of a tour de france racer without shaving your legs.

bike racing lingo
what they say: peloton
what they mean: the main group of riders. also known as "field," "bunch," or "group"

what they say: breakaway
what they mean: an individual or small group of riders thatís leading the peloton

what they say: time trial
what they mean: a stage in which riders or teams start individually, racing against the clock