Being “in the chop” is an Aussie expression that you won’t read about in the UCI rulebook. It’s one of the many nuances of bike racing that only comes with experience.
Sometimes when you’re in a race and find yourself in the final break-away bunch you might get asked “are we in the chop?” or “are we chopping it?”. This is referring to collusion between the lead riders to work together until the finish and split the prize money. Many times a break-away will be doomed in the final kilometers because everyone starts playing cat and mouse, attacking, sitting up, etc. If everybody agrees to split the money, then everybody wins – a little bit. Some of these race winnings can be $5000-$10,000, so it can be appealing for a bunch of broke bike racers to reach a deal like this.
But what if you happen to be the strongest guy in the bunch and you have a good chance at winning? What if you decide not to participate in the chop? Unfortunately you’ll be outnumbered by all the other guys in the chop, and it’s a very quick way for you to gain enemies in the peloton in future races when they’ll certainly be needed.
Be careful though. Sometimes there’s a chop going on between some riders in the break, and not all are included. This is when things get tricky and you have to be attentive to what’s going on and who’s included. This can play in your favor and you can use those guys to your advantage.
Note: collusion is not allowed by most cycling federations, but don’t be naive – it happens all the time. I’m just here to make you aware!
The next installment of “Politics of the Peloton” will cover “the Joke“.