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A line of riders cycling in a side-by-side formation, usually to reduce air resistance.

Example usage: The peloton formed an echelon to take advantage of the tail wind.

Most used in: Long distance cycling events such as the Tour de France.

Most used by: Professional and competitive cyclists.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 4/10

Also see: Paceline, Peloton, Rotisserie, Slipstream,


What is an Echelon in Cycling?

An echelon is a formation used by cyclists to benefit from drafting, or riding in the slipstream of the cyclist in front. The cyclists form a diagonal line across the road, with each rider slightly behind and to the side of the one in front. This reduces the amount of wind resistance each cyclist has to face, allowing them to go faster with less effort.

In an echelon, the lead cyclist takes the brunt of the wind, while the riders behind benefit from the lead cyclist's draft. The wind is deflected around the cyclists in the echelon, reducing the amount of energy each cyclist has to put out to maintain the same speed. This makes an echelon particularly effective when riding in a headwind.

Echelons are commonly used by professional cyclists in road races. In a 2017 study of the Tour de France, it was found that riders in an echelon formation gained up to 20% more speed than those who were not in an echelon. This shows the effectiveness of the formation in improving the efficiency of riders.

Echelons can also be used by recreational cyclists to improve their performance and efficiency. By learning to ride in an echelon formation, cyclists can save energy and go faster than they otherwise would. This can be a great advantage when riding in groups or in windy conditions.

The Fascinating Origin of the Cycling Term 'Echelon'

The cycling term 'echelon' is believed to have originated in the early 1900s in France. It was first used to describe the formation cyclists used when they were riding in a group. This formation resembled the shape of a diagonal line, similar to the French word 'échelle', which means 'ladder'.

The term was first used in the Tour de France in the 1920s. During this race, cyclists would ride in an echelon formation to reduce the wind drag and make the most of their collective speed. The echelon formation also allowed them to take turns leading the group, so that no one cyclist had to bear the full brunt of the wind.

Today, the term 'echelon' is used to refer to any type of cycling formation that resembles a diagonal line. It is also used to describe a cycling race tactic in which cyclists take turns leading the group in order to maximize their collective speed.

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