Bike racing and cycling is filled with unwritten rules and etiquette.  Above all, style is paramount.  All else is of little importance.  You’re only as good as your last race.  I regularly get ridiculed for all my unwitting blunders.   However, I know full well that it’s part of the Cyclists’ Code to mock the ignorant.

For those of you who have been holding back on winning races because you just don’t know what you would do when crossing the finish line, allow me to give a few pointers.  After you master these important TIPS, it’s off to the Pro Tour you go.

Victory Salute Like A PRO

The Solo Victory

1. Ensure one’s jersey is fastened to the top and shall be perfectly aligned so all title sponsors are clearly visible.

2 One shall take a quick look behind prior to victory to gloat at the peloton’s futile second place sprint.

3. One shall prepare far in advance (preferably in front of mirror) for thee victory salute that shall be unleashed.  One shall look 100% confident that this has been done thousand times before.

4. One shall cloak all signs of fatigue at any cost.  A war-cry of aggression is acceptable emotion to be displayed.

5. One shall hold the victory salute for minimum of 20 seconds and heed placing hands on bars until soigneur approaches with towel and waterbottle directly before post-race interview.

The Sprint Victory

1. In a sprint finish,  one often does not know if the race has been won or lost until centimeters before the finish line.  Even so, one’s victory salute still requires to have been thought out and practiced.  Preparation is key.  Omit training sessions if necessary.  Sprinters do not train.  It is a sign of weakness.

2. It is preferable that one will cross the line with victory salute displayed well before or during the sprint to the finish.

3. Never will one go past the finish line without having a victory salute for the cameras.  This is a sign of humbleness (and mistaken for arrogance) and is as good as coming in last.

4. Again, all signs of fatigue are forbidden.

Let me suggest the following salutes:

The Classic. Two hands thrown in the air over one’s head

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The Chin-up. Another classic

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The Crucifix. One must use with care. Only for true champions.

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The Single Fisted Punch. Notice the slight backward lean and superb posture.

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The Handgun.  One needs to be sufficiently gifted to pull this off. Reserved for decisive day of Grand Tour on epic mountain top  finish.

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The Understated Salute. For the truly humble competitor

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Thank The Lord. To be used by one of Italian or Spanish decent. Ideally, kiss crucifix on gold chain, trace sign of the cross on chest, look to the heavens and thank God for the courage he’s given on this epic day.  Dedication of the victory to one’s teammate who passed away last year is highly regarded.

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The Unwritten Rules Now Written: Some simple rules regarding the various victory salutes that shall not be forgotten.

1. Arms are to be 180 degrees straight.  If bending towards 200 degrees is possible, even better.

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2. Palms are to be pointed outwards to the cameras to show sponsorhip on gloves

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3. Always zip jersey to the collar when the cameras are on. No one needs to see this:

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4. Again, expression of fatigue is absolutely forbidden.  The exception to this rule is when on the junk, do not make it too obvious.  A slight expression of pain may be necessary to cover up any suspicion. You see Cadel’s face everytime he crosses the finish line? You know a guy with that much suffering on his face is clean as a whistle.

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5. Tears of joy is permitted only if from Italian decent. Otherwise this is not acceptable.

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6. Expression of surprise or shock of winning is absolutely forbidden.  Multiple Tour stage victories is the only redemption for this.

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7. Multiple race victories warrants this to be pointed out.

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8. Expressions of childlike joy is largely frowned upon.  Garro’s cool though…

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9. When you drag the 39yr old Statesman to the line and then pips you at the finish, it is acceptable to raise your arm and bow your head in honor and admiration.  You are his subservient domestique and it is written in your contract to make him look good during his final days before Masters racing.

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10. Leadout man to salute in celebrating your victory is permitted.  Even though he got dropped at the final corner and you had to close his gap, he shall receive a piece of your glory for his feeble efforts.

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11. Generally the rules state that you may only raise a single arm up as the leadout man.  However, you may display the double arm salute if you let your teammate take the win.  As one expert commented, this is the now banned “YMCA Salute

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12. Double points are awarded for the victory salute before the finish line in a bunch sprint

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13. A clear indication of who your sponsors are always pleases them.   Alternatively, it is permissible to let the world know who’s the real boss if the win was inevitable with or without those pesky sponsors or teammates.

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14. If by fluke some neo-pro pips you at the line and you’ve already begun your victory salute, ABORT.  Retreat hands back on the bars as quickly as possible and make like it never happened.  You let him win – that’s the story and stick to it.

CYCLING : SCHELDEPRIJS-VLAANDEREN 2008

15. Under no circumstances will second place suffice.  The only respectable response to finishing second after a 200km breakaway is to pound handlebars in frustration.

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Now,  go win some races.

images from Velonews (Graham Watson)