Here’s how Tour de France cyclists answer nature’s call during the race


Niki Terpstra (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)

Ever wonder how Tour de France racers handle bathroom emergencies? Viewers of today’s Stage 19 found out when NBCSN’s broadcast aimed its cameras on Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider Niki Terpstra. Viewers watched a stream of liquid travel in a low arc as the rider, being recorded from the back thankfully, rode closely to the ditch with just one hand on the handlebars. Twitter noticed:


Then they joked:

While riders sweat a lot along the route, they also are constantly fueling their systems. On average, riders consume roughly 8,000 calories per day, including 1,500 along the race route, Men’s Journal reports. Many of those 1,500 calories are consumed in liquid form via a specially mixed race drink, which is typically doled out to racers in 500 or 600 milliliter bottles. That’s over 16 ounces a pop and, according to Team Garmin-Sharp press officer Marya Pongrace, riders average about 13 bottles per stage, including pre-race, race and recovery.

With that in mind, it makes you wonder how racers taking mid-ride bathroom breaks aren’t caught on camera more often.

Now, if you’re wondering about the other reason humans need to use the bathroom, that’s a little more complicated. Ideally, racers would plan around their need to defecate, but once in a while, nature calls and all you can do is answer it. In that case, riders need to depend on a friendly spectator with a motor home. Here’s Arnaud Demare of Team FDJ.fr demonstrating that concept on Stage 14.

Poor timing? Yes. But the hold-up doesn’t necessarily mean the end for a rider in a speedy race. Belkin team riders Lars Boom and Maaren Wynants told the French newspaper Le Monde in an interview (via Connexion France) that it’s considered unsportsmanlike to overtake the tour leader during a bathroom break.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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