Lessons from the Peloton

Lessons from the Peloton

As a cycling enthusiast, I have learned first-hand about the power, potential and risk in the peloton, and continue to find its lessons relevant to my work with entrepreneurs and their teams.

J.M. Girald, Founding Partner of Peloton Advisory

What is a Peloton?

The peloton (from French, meaning little ball or platoon) is the main group or pack of riders in a road bicycle race. Riders in a group save energy by riding near (particularly behind) other riders. The reduction in drag is dramatic; in the middle of a well-developed group it can be as much as 40%. The peloton travels as an integrated unit (similar in some respects to birds flying in formation) with each rider making slight adjustments in response to their adjacent riders.

The team with a well-balanced and organized peloton is much more efficient and can maintain a faster pace than a lone cyclist can achieve.  In the peloton, communication, trust and teamwork are vital.

Lessons I’ve Learned from the Peloton

  • It takes more than one blazing talent to win the race.
  • There’s no such thing as the status quo; you’re either advancing or retreating.
  • Talented people can feed off of each other’s energy to go farther, faster.
  • Don’t get too far out on the fringe.  We must read the landscape and know where the market is going.
  • Timing is everything.  It’s critical to know when to conserve energy, when to invest, when to ride with the pack and when to break away.
  • We must be flexible, fluid and responsive to constantly changing conditions.
  • Discipline, vigilance and self-control are vital to avoid a crash – and make it to the finish line.

A Thing of Beauty, Efficiency & Danger

Riding in the peloton takes knowledge, fitness and know-how.


In the fluid motion of the peloton there’s one golden rule: if you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards. This goes for any big bunch ride and especially while racing. One of the most essential skills in bike racing is knowing how to hold and gain positions in the field. Achieving this while using as little energy as possible is the key.

A thing of beauty, efficiency, and danger, the peloton cuts wind drag by up to 40 percent and is where many riders spend most of their time during Tour de France.

Christian Science Monitor

Peloton Advice from a Champion

Words of advice for riding in a Peloton, from Michael Barry, a member of the Postal Team that won the Tour de France multiple times and author of Inside the Postal Bus and Fitness Cycling:

  • Relax
  • Stay Up Front
  • Hide Your Suffering
  • Work Smart
  • Watch Out for Erratic Riders
  • Look Ahead
  • Make Allies
  • Get Fueled Early
  • Sprint Smart
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