Anatomy of a team: How the specialists in their fields keep the Tour wheels turning

The sprinter

Strong nerves and thighs are basic equipment for fast finishers. The present master of the close encounter is the Italian Mario Cipollini. After setting a personal record of five wins in the Giro d'Italia earlier this month, the Tuscan will be out to bump up his tally of four stage wins in four Tours. His rivals will make life hard in those intimidating charges where the final 200 metres is fraught with peril as more than 100 pairs of legs and elbows thrash and clash. If the sprinters get too close, one touch can cause a pile-up. Boxing in, jersey-pulling, and cutting up, mostly illegal, can add to the perils, but skill and that extra "kick" gives Cipollini the edge. It has earned the leader's jersey in the Tour and the Giro, but the sprinter's prize is the green jersey awarded for scoring points through consistent high placings.

The mountain man

Gravity demands that a successful climber such as Richard Virenque needs to be a lightweight. Holding the red polka-dot jersey of best mountain racer as he has for the last three Tours marks him as a danger to yellow- jersey hopefuls. His ability in the Alps and the Pyrenees last year claimed third position overall, the most successful French finisher since Laurent Fignon was second in 1989. Among the mountain specialists Virenque is a heavyweight at 65kg against Italian Marco Pantani (56kg), Swiss Laurent Dufaux (58kg), and Austrian Peter Luttenberger (60kg). With mountainous stages in the final week the climbers can figure in the final top 10 positions, but any climbing specialist in the race leader's team can have only one ambition: to protect the No 1 colours from any threats.

The time trialist

The clock-beater Chris Boardman is meticulous about detail in the struggle to gain precious seconds over a rival. Anything aerodynamically suitable, from skin-tight clothing and a Star Wars-style helmet to a bike with narrow tyres and a carbon-fibre frame can make a difference. Last year Boardman invested in a pair of handlebars that cost as much as anyone would want to pay for a whole racing bike. Knowing the course and how to tackle it has to be combined with a smooth pedalling action and the peak of athletic condition to produce a 50kph-plus performance. Whether the short, sharp curtain-raiser over 8km or the gruelling 55km at St Etienne, each race against the clock needs precision preparation. One mistake, a puncture, or a fall can wipe out months of planning.

The workhorse

Jan Ullrich played a key role in an impressive Tour debut last year. He was the right-hand man to Bjarne Riis, and the 22-year-old German also finished second overall. A future Tour winner, said manager Walter Godefroot. Such acclaim seldom comes to the many lieutenants and other ranks in the Tour squads. Team workhorses cover a variety of jobs. The French call them domestiques (servants) because many are content to fetch and carry water bottles, food, and clothing for their captains. Some become super domestiques with specific roles within the team. Pacing their race- winning sprinter to within sight of the chequered flag, riding tactically at the head of the race to protect their leader's chances or falling back to help out if he has mechanical problems.

The team leader

No One wins the Tour de France without sacrifices from his team- mates. Their collective skills, teamwork, and workrate are the foundation for the triumph. Bjarne Riis of Denmark spent five years "below decks" before he became team captain, and the winner of the 1996 Tour. His all- round capabilities marked him as a potential victor, but first he had to serve masters such as the two-time Tour winner Laurent Fignon. Last year Riis was powerful, tactically and physically, when it mattered. He fired off three attacks on one climb at Lourdes, beating the specialist climbers and Miguel Indurain at the same time. He was second in a crucial time trial, and seized the overall lead on a chaotic day in the Alps when snow and high winds caused the stage to be reduced to 46 km.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower