What is a Barrage?

Barrage:  technique used by officials to impede the progress of vehicles at times when they would affect the outcome of the race, specifically when they would allow dropped riders to regain a group they were dropped from.

In professional bicycle racing such as the Tour de France, it is quite common for riders to separate from the main pack (peleton).  Sometimes the riders will be ahead of the peleton and other times behind.  Vehicles such as cars create a large wind block and are excellent for drafting and a rider who has fallen behind (been dropped) would use the vehicles to their advantage to get back up to the peleton, if allowed.  Many rules in bicycle racing surround not giving one rider an advantage over another, the barrage, while not a rule, is a technique to allow for a rider not to break a rule.  Basically the officials suspend the vehicle traffic so the riders can get through unaided.  

Since the barrage disrupts the flow of the caravan, team managers and drivers are none too keen when one is imposed.  Generally speaking the stoppage of the team car separates the team car from the rider/ riders they are following and puts those riders into a bad position if they have a mechanical mishap and the team car is not there to take care of it quickly. 

Many times, especially at the end of a long race, the domestiques will have done their jobs and they will sit up and go out the back. One of the reasons in the past for a barrage was too not allow these obviously dropped riders to use the caravan to regain some time or an advantage.  Now, however officials are better at recognizing obviously dropped riders and team managers are more active in instructing riders not to use the caravan once they have been dropped.  The only time a rider can use the caravan to get back up is if they have been dropped for a ligitamite mishap.

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