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Definitions: rouleur by Paul Fournel

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“He manages the wind like a bass manages the sea. He rides gears as heavy as anvils while having the elegance to never show it”

Photographs: Offside/l'Equipe
Thomas De Gendt

The rouleur has long-lasting majesty. His talent consists of a statuesque position: the rouleur knows how to stay in an impeccable (and unbearable) position for hours, body bent in two, arms at right angles, face lowered, the top of his head open to the breeze.

 

He manages the wind like a bass manages the sea. He rides gears as heavy as anvils while having the elegance to never show it.

 

The less he moves, the faster he will go. It is a real spectacle for those in the know. Those not in the know find him boring because there is little which is spectacular; often, in fact, it is only disorder that gives the impression of speed.

 

Read: Johan Museeuw – a rouleur defined

 

To best express this sense of power, the peloton asserts that the rouleur “has a big motor”. It finds in him the consistency and the power of a machine. It speaks from experience, the peloton, since when someone or other takes a fancy to attacking, the rouleur puts himself on the front to take the troops back to the fugitive and each person can experience the consequences for the muscles.

 

The rouleur gives the best of himself in the solitude of the time trial, but he does not mind taking himself to the front of the peloton to stretch it out into a long line and to stick his tongue out at all the good people who are breathless in his wheel.

 

Read: Cyrille Guimard – You need to be a rouleur to win the Tour de France

 

The flat is his kingdom. If decorated with a few cobblestones, like in Paris-Roubaix, it even allows him to fly a few centimetres above the ground. He enjoys long sweeping corners where he can follow his line without breaking his sacrosanct rhythm. When he hasn’t extricated himself from the peloton thanks to his strength, he is a perfect leadout man for his sprinter: placed in front of him, he opens up the air and dictates a high cadence. In a team, the rouleur is the indispensable base of the trade of cycling.

 

Definitions by Paul Fournel: Rouleur| Baroudeur| Sprinter| Climber