Only the world’s best cyclists enter the grueling Tour de France. The three-week race tests their endurance as they ride thousands of miles through often-rough terrain. Participants spend hours on their bikes every day, which begs the question, “How do cyclists pee during the Tour de France? Thankfully for them, there are a few options. Thankfully for us, these choices are pretty well-known.
The Tour de France is intense
It takes a lot of dedication, training, and grit to participate in the Tour de France. There are 21 stages, one per day, and it takes 23 days to complete the race from start to finish. This is why Encyclopedia Britannica begins its entry on the event by calling it “the world’s most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race.”
GQ tells us riders are on their bikes for over six hours per day as they pedal nearly 3,000 miles. All the exercises can depress the immune system, making it easier for the riders to get sick. And the cyclists must stay properly hydrated, which means what they drink needs to leave their bodies somehow. So when they do they get the chance to relieve themselves?
How do cyclists pee during the Tour de France?
Cycling Weekly investigated the issue of urinating during the Tour de France after at least 10 riders were fined during the 2019 event for public urination. Here are some of the methods the website uncovered:
Urinating on the side of the road
Many Tour de France stages are road courses, so the riders can stop at the side of the road to pee, with teams sometimes organizing a “nature break” in which the teammates collectively urinate. Time is of the essence here because riders will be passed by other racers while they are taking care of their business.
Urinating while riding
Some riders will pee while they’re on their bike. Sometimes while doing this, a teammate will help the cyclist keep his momentum by pushing his bike from the back while the urination is in progress.
Urinating in your suit
Another option is to just let the act happen without planning and pee in your suit. Evidently, this can be particularly helpful in cold conditions because, as Mark Cavendish once explained, it warms him up temporarily in rainy or cold conditions. “You get warm and you don’t have to fuss around.”
What cyclists say about peeing
Greg LeMond, a three-time Tour champion, isn’t one of the cyclists who urinate while on the saddle. He admitted that he’s “never been able to pee off the bike.” Instead, he “always found a tree,” making sure to remember the tactics involved in the act. LeMond advises that you should “go to the front of the pack. Hopefully, you tell everybody you’re peeing so they don’t attack.”
When he’s not peeing in his suit, Cavendish has some strategies for when and how to go. The cyclist says he always goes “right at the beginning of the stage.” As for how, he discusses different ways the guys do it. “Some guys lift up their shorts and go. Normally, if you’re on a slight downhill, you can kind of just move to the side of the group and continue while you do it on the bike.”
Riders must be careful, though, so they don’t get in trouble. Johan Vansummeren receives three fines for urinating in front of fans during the 2010 race. Cavendish once got a slap on the wrist for peeing into a river; he claimed he didn’t know it was illegal, but he learned his lesson from the incident. “I stopped on a bridge and pissed off the bridge into the river. And then I heard it’s not allowed. So I won’t be doing that again.”