TdF '11 Part 2: Crashing Like a Pro

By Peg Labiuk | 10/26/11
TdF '11 Part 2: Crashing Like a Pro

Tomasz Przechlewski, “Untitled” June 27, 2010 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

After viewing Tour de France coverage, our e-mail newsletter reader Bill Grandi posed four curious questions. With each being so different, our coaches have decided to answer them in a series. This is his second question in the series, and was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

'11 Tour de France Part 2: Crashing Like a Pro


This may sound crazy, but given the wrecks in the peloton and then the horrific car/cyclist one: do they teach the professionals how to fall? That may sound whacked but I am serious. I fall and break a wrist. I hit a dog and go down and end up with a bulging disk. I watched the two get hit and hit the ground hard and go endo but get up and ride. I watched Levi hit the deck but get up to ride. 'Course there are the serious ones but on the whole, are they taught to fall?



Regarding your crashing, I covered an interesting revelation that cyclists can have lower bone density in an answer for Leny back in April (see link Perhaps you are more susceptible to injury because of this phenomenon. The Pros did have a rough and tumble Tour this year. As you noticed, some bounced right back up and rode on. Again, I might attribute some of that to their youthfulness. While they may not have team tumbling practice now, I would assume that most have in their past. Some come from mountain bike racing, BMX, track, or cyclocross, all of which translate to versatility and bike handling ability. When I teach a Learn to Race clinic, the first thing we do is practice shoulder rolls on a grassy field with our helmets on. When you come off your bike, opposing forces naturally make you spin. The best way to minimize injury is to use the spinning momentum, tucking in your arms, legs, and chin – tuck and roll. We practice shoulder rolls so tucking becomes instinctive. Then I further address this fear factor by doing the wheel touching drill. Participants are usually surprised at how difficult it is to make contact, tapping their front wheels to their partner's rear sidewall. Doing these exercises on the grass slows down the action and reduces the consequences. There is often laughter involved and I'd highly recommend these drills at the start of each season.

My friend Zack gives this perspective from the peloton: "I do not think pros formally learn to crash. However, if you are pro you have been through your fair share of crashes. With this, a crash becomes just another event that is less stressful than you would think. Additionally, most pros or top Category 1/2 riders usually stay quite relaxed when a crash happens. I think this decreases the chance of serious injury when you take a hard fall. In the case of big crashes seen on TV, the pain associated with the crash is minor when compared to loosing the race (i.e. Tour de France).

Well that puts it into perspective.

Coach Peg

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