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Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 1

Observation One
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
2003 Tour de France stage 7
Note: This observation took place during a 30 minute archived footage of the end of the seventh
stage of the 2003 Tour de France.
Relevant Background information: The Tour de France is a bicycle race that happens every
year since 1903(other that breaks during the world wars) in France during the month of July.
The year I have chosen to observe is 2003. The race lasts for 3 weeks with an individual stage
each day. The person who wins the Tour de France is the rider with the least accumulated time
through all the stages combined.
Figured World: A figured world is a large network of people that has standards for
communication and conduct.
There are certain rules and conventions that change based on what point it is during the
stage, which stage it is, and where a rider is located in relation to the other riders. At the
beginning of a stage, it is a usual occurrence that a small group of riders, called a breakaway,
leave the main group of riders and go off ahead on their own. Then the team with the overall
leader (rider with the lowest overall time) is expected to lead the peloton (the large main group
of riders) and keep the breakaway reasonably close. Next, on a stage over flat terrain, the teams
of the sprinters (riders who are good finishers on the flat) will lead the peloton in attempting to
catch the breakaway (which they usually do), but on a stage that ends on a mountain different
teams are expected to chase the breakaway. Riding dangerously around other riders is obviously
not a welcomed act, as well as, being in a breakaway and not working with the other rider. There
are many other rules and conventions that are used in bicycle racing that would take too long to
mention, but the ones that I have named are the basic ones. There are many different
communities of practice within the Tour de France. Some of the communities are the individual
team, the climbers, the sprinters, the breakaway riders, the riders in the peloton, and even the
team managers.
Actors: a person that plays a certain role that is part of the community of practice.

Richard Virenque: In stage 7, Richard Virenque was a very important person. He had
in previous editions of the Tour de France won the best mountain climber jersey five
times and would win it a total of seven times in his career. Throughout his cycling
career, he was a very aggressive rider and was known for being in breakaways over
mountainous stages, such as this stage.
Lance Armstrong: Lance Armstrong was the favorite to win the 2003 Tour de France.
He had won each of the previous 4 editions of the race, and everyone was thinking he
probably would again. Lance had survived cancer to make a return to the highest level of
cycling and the whole image of cycling in the United States was based on him. He

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 2

greatly affected the 2003 Tour, whether it was him individually or his team working for
The U.S. Postal Service Team: The U.S.P.S. team was the team of Lance Armstrong.
They worked many hours in this Tour de France at the front of the peloton (main group
of riders) all so that Lance could have a chance to win the Tour. They chased
breakaways and set a pace on mountains that would be hard for others to follow.
Iban Mayo: Iban Mayo was a young mountain climber that was very successful during
the beginning of the 2003 season. He was known for his attacking riding style and
climbing ability.
Alessandro Pettacchi: Alessandro Pettacchi was a very well-known sprinter who won
many different races during his cycling career.
Climbers: These are riders who excel when the road begins to go uphill. They are the
favored riders on mountainous stages where time is gained or lost in large amounts.
These are the riders that end up winning the race overall.
Sprinters: Sprinters are riders who have an excellent burst of speed when they get close
to the finish line. They are favored on the flatter stages where they can stay in the
peloton and then sprint toward the finish with their great speed. The green jersey
competition is usually one by a sprinter.

Artifacts: Something that is important to a community of practice or the entire figured world.

The Yellow Jersey: The yellow jersey is given, after each stage and at the end of the
race, to the rider who has the least overall accumulated time in the race so far. It is the
symbol of the best rider in the race. Most professional cyclists dream of wearing the
yellow jersey even if only for one stage.
The Green Jersey: The green jersey is given to the rider who consistently finishes
toward the front and accumulates the most sprint points which are given at the finish of
every stage. The amount of points given has changed throughout the years of the Tour de
France, but a certain number of points are given to the first several riders based on what
position they finish regardless of their time.

Communities of practice: A community of practice is a group that has a common interest or

hobby that brings them together.

The breakaway: The breakaway riders have a shared goal of making it to the finish in
front of the peloton and winning the stage. They must work together for most of the
stage if they want to achieve their goal. Then, only, if they have a large enough time gap
can they fight it out among themselves for the victory.
The peloton: The peloton consists of the majority of the riders in the race, and is
generally composed of all kinds of riders. It is composed of the team leaders, the
sprinters, the team helpers, and the others who usually hope to get in a breakaway but
didnt that day. The goal of all of the riders in the peloton is to make it to the finish in the
quickest time possible. There are many other goals of riders that differ from rider to

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 3

The teams: Cycling is definitely a team sport. A team in the Tour de France has 9 riders
on it. The teams can consist of different types of riders which effects their goals as a
team. Some teams consist of a contender for the overall victory, some have a sprinter to
win stages from a group on the flatter stages, some have both a sprinter and a leader, and
some have neither. The teams with overall contenders try to control the stages from the
peloton and keep breakaways close enough for their leader to make up the time he needs
to beat them on the harder stages. The teams with sprinters want to try and catch the
breakaways on the flatter stages and lead their sprinter to the victory at the stage finish.
The teams with no leader or sprinter try to put riders in the breakaways to win stages.

Domain: A domain is a groups common goal. They have experience and knowledge of this

Racing bicycles: Racing bicycles is what all of these riders do for a living. They race 810 months a year basically nonstop. They have to succeed in order to keep their job or to
make more money.
Winning races: Winning races is the goal of all professional riders, even though some
of them have to settle for helping other riders on their team win. They all have won races
during their career because they have to in order to become professionals.

Practices of the Community: The regular activities and the way activities are done by a
community of practice.

Chasing the breakaway: Chasing the breakaway is a common practice of teams that
have a leader or a sprinter, so that their rider will be in the best condition to win.
Training for races: Professional riders must train all year to make sure they are in their
best condition for the important races of the season. This is done by some riders better
that others and it becomes obvious in a race like the Tour de France which riders have
trained had and which have not.

Literacy practices: The way that people in a community of practice communicate with each
other in any way.

Lack of cooperation: A lack of cooperation in a breakaway could mean one of 2 things

that can tell you a lot and help the riders tactically. Lack of cooperation can mean either
that the rider is too tired to help lead the breakaway or that they dont want to help pull
the breakaway away from their leader in the pack.
Team Radios: Every rider on every team has a radio that is used by their manager to
talk to them during the race, tell them what is going on, and discuss tactics.

List of Relevant Vocab:

Peloton: The main group of riders

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 4

Breakaway: As a noun: a small group of riders that are ahead of the main group of
As a verb: the action of attempting to get ahead of the main group of
Stage: a single days event that is part of a larger race over many stages. Each stage has
an individual winner, separate from the larger race.
Sprint: An event that occurs when a large group comes to the finish with riders reaching
their top speed with maximum effort in an attempt to win.

My Observation:
1 minute: There is a 4 rider breakaway consisting of Richard Virenque, Rolf Aldag, Paolo
Bettini, and a rider that I do not know from the Credit Agricole team. Richard Virenque and
Paolo Bettini are on the same team which gives them a large advantage. They are 7 minutes in
front of the peloton. (Which means it would take the peloton 7 minutes to get to where they are
5 minutes: The breakaway riders are working together well there are 15 kilometers (9 miles)
remaining in the stage and they are starting to climb the last of 5 mountains on the stage. The
peloton is being led by the U.S Postal team for Lance Armstrong.
8 minutes: The gap between the breakaway and peloton is now 7 minutes and 10 seconds. The
Credit Agricole rider and Paolo Bettini cannot keep up with the front part of the breakaway and
have been left behind by Virenque and Aldag. The rider currently in the yellow jersey Victor
Hugo Pena is behind the peloton and losing ground.
12 minutes: Alexander Vinokurov attacks and rides away from the peloton. He is the leader
of Team Telekom. Richard Virenque rides away from Rolf Aldag, so now he is in the lead by
17 minutes: Richard Virenque reaches the top of the mountain with a 3:55 lead over the peloton,
which is still being led by U.S Postal. He has a good lead with only a little over 4 miles to go.
The peloton caught back up to Vinokurov.
25 minutes: Virenque wins the stage all by himself. He salutes the crowd and they cheer for him.
He is a French rider and the French are very passionate when a Frenchmen wins.
29 minutes: The peloton finishes the stage 4 minutes and 5 seconds behind Virenque. U.S.P.S.
team leads them across the line.
30 minutes: The calculations are made and Richard Virenque has the lowest overall time and is
awarded the yellow jersey.

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 5

Observation Two
Friday September 12, 2014
2003 Tour de France Stages 1 and 10
Note: This observation took place during an archived video of the last 20 minutes of both stages
1 and 10.
My Observation:
Stage 1:
1 minute: 3 man breakaway is out in front of the field. They are working together, but the
peloton is catching up. These 3 men have been in the breakaway since almost the beginning of
the stage so they are beginning to become tired.
4 minutes: The peloton is chasing the breakaway, led by the Lotto and Fasso-Bortolo teams. The
stage is flat toward the end and these teams have two of the top sprinters in the Tour, Robbie
McEwan (Lotto) and Alessandro Pettachi (Fassa-Bortolo).
6 minutes: One of the breakaway riders attacks (rides away from) the other breakaway riders and
is off on his own.
10 minutes: Fassa-Bortolo is leading the main group most of the time now. The two breakaway
riders that were left behind are caught by the peloton. The lone rider out front has a 50 second
14 minutes: Eric Zabel, a sprinter from Team Telekom, has a flat tire and is now behind the
peloton. He won the green jersey 6 years in a row from 1996-2001 and is one of the top sprinters
of the era.
17 minutes: The breakaway rider in caught by the peloton and teams are scrambling for control
of the front of the group. In a sprint, the team that can control the front of the peloton puts their
sprinter in the best position to win the stage.
19 minutes: Fassa- Bortolo is in control of the peloton with 1 kilometer to go to the finish. Their
sprinter, Alessandro Pettachi, is in fourth position and is in a great position to get a chance at the
20 minutes: There is a large crash at the front of the Peloton. Only about 20 riders made it
around the crash. There are about 25 riders on the ground and some look like they might be
seriously injured.
21 minutes: Alessandro Pettachi wins the stage in front of Robbie McEwan and Eric Zabel. He
showed his dominance in the sprint.

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 6

Stage 10:
1 minute: A breakaway consisting of 9 riders has a 24 minute lead on the peloton. All of the
riders in the breakaway and further behind than that in overall time so the peloton is going to let
them get away and win the stage. This group of riders has been in front of the main group for
150 kilometers.
5 minutes: Gutierrez from the Kelme team attacks the other breakaway riders. The cooperation
has ended since they have such a large lead over the peloton. Everyone is just strategizing about
how they will have the best chance to win.
9 minutes: The group of breakaway riders catch up to Gutierrez and then Jakob Piil counter
attacks and gets a large gap over the breakaway. Each rider is trying to get across the gap to Piil
by themselves instead of working together.
12 minutes: Fabio Sacchi gets away from the rest of the breakaway and catches Piil. They start
working together and increasing their lead over the rest of the group.
16 minutes: Fabio Sacchi rides up beside Piil and shakes his hand. This gesture was used to that
Piil for working together with him and, also, signaled the end of that cooperation in favor of the
tactics of the sprint.
20 minutes: Jakob Piil barely edges out Sacchi in the sprint, and wins the stage of the Tour. The
peloton comes across about 25 minutes later.

Observation Three
Friday September 12, 2014
2003 Tour de France Stage 8
Note: This observation took place during an archived video of the last 40 minutes of stage 8.
My Observation:
1 minute: Mikel Astarloza and Didier Rous are in a breakaway. The riders are on LAlpe
DHuez which is one of the most famous mountains in the Tour de France. Roberto Heras of
U.S Postal team is leading the peloton and setting a pace that is hard for most riders to follow to
help Lance Armstrong.
10 minutes: Joseba Beloki, who is a contender for the overall victory, attacks the Armstrong
group. Lance lets his teammate Heras expend his energy to try to chase down Beloki.
12 minutes: Beloki catches and passes the two leaders. Heras is still leading the Armstrong

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 7

15 minutes: Armstrong now chases Beloki himself and begins to catch up to him.
18 minutes: Armstrong catches Beloki, but right when he does Iban Mayo of Euskatel-Euskadi
counter attacks and gets a quick gap on the group and starts to pull away.
20 minutes: Tyler Hamilton, An American that races for Team CSC, and Joseba Beloki, of team
ONCE, take turn attacking Armstrong to try and weaken him but they cannot get away.
22 minutes: Roberto Heras catches up to the group and begins to help Armstrong by setting the
pace again.
24 minutes: Mayo now has a 1 minute lead over Armstrong. It does not look like anyone is
going to catch him.
26 minutes: Hamilton, who broke his collarbone in the crash on stage 1, keeps attacking
Armstrong but cannot get away.
32 minutes: Beloki is leading the group that contains Lance, they are losing ground on Iban
38 minutes: Mayo wins the stage; it is his first victory ever in the Tour de France. Armstrong
comes in 2 minutes and 12 seconds behind him, but Armstrong still earned the yellow jersey at
the end of the stage.
Observation Four
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
2003 Tour de France stage 20
Note: This observation took place during the last 40 minutes of an archived video of the stage
20, the last stage, of the 2003 Tour de France.
Background Information: The final stage of the Tour de France has finished with a few laps
on the Champs Elysees, which is a main street in Paris. Before stage 20, Lance Armstrong had
secured his lead and the victory of the Tour de France, barring a crash, so all that was left to fight
for was the stage win and the green jersey. The green jersey competition was very close with
Robbie McEwan leading Baden Cooke by 2 points, whichever of them finished before the other
on the stage would win the green jersey. This stage is very flat and almost always ends in a sprint
1 minute: An eight rider breakaway has formed just barely off the front of the peloton. The
sprinters teams are chasing the breakaway down the Champs Elysees.
6 minutes: One lap left before the finish of the race, and the breakaway has a twelve second lead
over the peloton.

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 8

10 minutes: The peloton catches the breakaway, and it now looks like there is going to be a
sprint finish.
12 minutes: The team of Baden Cooke is on the front of the peloton with one kilometer to go.
Robbie McEwan is positioned right behind Cooke.
14 minutes: The stage is won by Jean-Patrick Nazon. Baden Cooke barely beat Robbie
McEwan for second place. So that means that Cooke has won the green jersey. Lance
Armstrong finishes in the peloton to secure his yellow jersey.
27 minutes: The final award presentations begin, and Jean-Patrick Nazon is given his award for
winning the stage.
30 minutes: Lance Armstrong is awarded the final yellow jersey as the overall winner of the
2003 Tour de France. He won the race by a minute and one second over Jan Ullrich. This is
Armstrongs fifth Tour de France victory, which ties the all-time record set by 3 other people.
36 minutes: Baden Cooke is awarded the final green jersey of the Tour. This is his first victory
in this competition.

The interview was conducted by myself on my father, Roy Darnell. Roy has been riding and
racing bicycles for more than 20 years and has competed in dozens of amateur races. He has
also been an avid fan of the Tour de France and has been observing the race for more than 20


Explain your interest in the Tour de France.

My interest in the Tour de France is rooted in my love of cycling. As an avid cyclist, I

can understand the extreme difficulty in participating in a race such as the Tour de France. The
endurance required to complete such a three-week race is almost unbelievable, much less to be
able to complete the stages at the speeds required to be competitive. I admire the abilities
required to compete in such a race and the tens of thousands of miles of training required to
reach this level of physical conditioning. While they may not be obvious to the casual viewer,
the tactics, both on a personal and team level, are very complex and watching them play out over
the course of the entire race is like no other sport.

How difficult do you think the Tour de France is compared to other bike races?

Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Zachary Darnell, 2014, p. 9

The Tour de France is considered to be one of the Grand Tours along with the Giro di
Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, which all last for three weeks and cover well over 2000 miles.
The Tour de France is the most famous and prestigious of the three, and thus the competition is
at the highest level. Even if the actual course for the year is seemingly less difficult than one of
the other three-week races, this desire for teams to win cyclings most revered race assures that
The Tour will be the toughest race of the season for the participating teams.
3. Tell me about how you began following the Tour de France.
I began casually following The Tour in the early 1980s when Greg Lemond was making
a name in the world of cycling. The only coverage then was a daily box score in the
newspaper (if it didnt get bumped by more popular sports) and a recap of the race in a cycling
magazine. My interest in The Tour grew as my personal cycling expanded. Now I enjoy hours
of daily TV coverage each July!
4. Explain the level of teamwork required in the Tour de France.
This is a part of the race that is not obvious to new observers, but cycling is very much a
team sport. Each team in the Tour de France has chosen the rider they feel is the most capable of
winning to be the leader of the team, and most of the other riders are only serving in supporting
roles. They are willing to put aside their personal chances for success to support the team leader.

How does teamwork impact the race as a whole?

Teamwork plays a major role in the outcome of the Tour de France. The teams are
structured around one leader, with most of the other members selected to be able to assist in
various aspects of the race. Some riders are selected to set the pace for the team on flat stages,
chase down breakaways, or set the pace for the leader during the mountain stages. The objective
for the team is to help the leader conserve energy for the decisive moments in the race by
keeping him out of the wind, providing him with food from the team car, or maybe even giving
the leader his bike in case of a mechanical issue. It would be very difficult for any rider to win
The Tour without a strong team.