Cycling Lingo – The 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s?

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In cycling there’s usually a fairly consistent set terminology of used throughout the English speaking world.  In fact, I’ve always been very surprised at how much of a conversation I can have with someone who is French, Spanish, Italian, Aussie, etc and have a half coherent conversation because there’s so much overlapping lingo and etiquette.  I thought I had heard it all until  I was Instant Messaging with my Boss yesterday.    He was asking me for some bike advice and started telling me about a friend of his who is a cyclist.  Here’s part of the conversation cut/pasted:

Boss:  my mate  rides in a group
Boss:  he tells me he is at 2’s now
Boss:  is the numeric terminology consistent around the world ?
CyclingTips: 2’s? what do you mean 2’s?
Boss:  obvouisly not
Boss:  it seems to be like a grading system
Boss:  he started at 4
Boss:  and moved up in halves
Boss:  1s are the fastest
Boss:  in his road cycle group
Boss:  you know … they take turns in leading
Boss:  and then drop back etc
CyclingTips: haven’t heard that one before
Boss:  and at the end they do a sprint
CyclingTips: maybe that’s his group terminology
CyclingTips: interesting
Boss:  how do they do it elsewhere?
CyclingTips: man, I thought I heard it all
Boss:  well…we are from WA
CyclingTips: explains it

Can anyone tell me what he’s talking about?  I’ve never heard of this pecking order and teminology that his mate is talking about.  Is this some sort of Triathlete mumbo jumbo?