|Team bikes lined up with dossards at the Tour de France, Photo by: PedalDancer.com|
|Ivan Basso team Leader at the Tour de France 2010, Photo by PedalDancer.com|
|Tom Boonen, the Leader of team 5, Photo by PedalDancer.com|
|Fabian Cancellara Photo by PedalDancer.com/SyS|
In the Tour de France, and other multi-day stage races, a red bib number (dossard rouge) is awarded every day to the 'combattant du jour' (most aggressive rider).
|Most Combative Rider red dossard on the 4th rider of the 18th team|
Some television media have placed GPS devices on a few riders for tracking, but GPS devices are not yet used for all riders. Someday they might be, when that day comes I will loose my quick rider identifier. As a fan I use the numbers all the time in both identifying riders in the moment (who sometimes look quite different in person then on TV!) and for later identifying different riders in pictures I have taken. I admit that sometimes I am busy taking a picture of one thing only to later realize, hey, I got a picture of the winner today.
If you attend a race and are a new fan to cycling, always bring the rider roster with you. If you are uncertain who you are looking at, just look up his dossard. This also works well when being a fan out on the road so you can verify, "who was that Rabobank rider in the break away?" It takes years of seeing the riders in person, in magazines, and on the road to be able to identify riders in a split second as easily as Paul Sherwen or other announcers. They deserve a break when they call a rider by a different name sometimes, it takes practice.
|Mark Cavendish's #111 bike at the 2010 TDF, (these are the bikes of the 1st and 9th rider on Team 11). Photo by: PedalDancer.com|
Interested in knowing how they track riders?: Nick Legan at VeloNews explains, "At many of the grand tours, the race organizer provides a transponder that is attached to either the chainstay or the fork. ... They aren’t GPS units, just coded transponders that are received by a sensor across the finish line. Some local races are beginning to use the exact same technology. Each rider is assigned one transponder for his race bike. ... if a rider changes bikes due to a mechanical issue or a crash, he won’t have his finish recorded by transponder. That’s where the finish camera and good old-fashioned officiating come into play."
Update 14 February 2013: Here is a new rendition: