CyclingTips Podcast, Episode 36: Superstition and rider rituals at the Tour de France
Chaotic, risky and over a century old; it’s probably not surprising that superstition and ritual play a part in both professional cycling and the Tour de France. Whether it is an urge to control the uncontrollable and avoid mishaps, or to try to somehow guarantee a better outcome, riders over the decades have looked beyond the scientific.
Not shaving before an important stage; wearing lucky kit; bringing a talisman in a jersey pocket; avoiding spilling salt; steering clear of black cats. These and more are examples of how riders try to control the chaos in a very unpredictable sport.
And then there’s Le Métier, a list of do’s and don’ts handed down by riders and coaches to the next generation. Don’t stand when you can sit. Don’t sit when you can lie down. Don’t walk, and certainly don’t eat ice cream. Those rules are also a bid to try to influence the results.
In this episode we spoke to several current and former riders at the Tour de France, cataloguing their superstitions and rituals, or lack thereof. Those who opened up include Tour winners Greg LeMond and Cadel Evans, former world number-one Sean Kelly, plus a number of riders from the 2017 Tour field.