Condensed Answer: Tour De France riders are not listening to music while competing. Instead, they have earpieces used to maintain communication with their teams. That said, some Tour De France riders listen to music during training or when warming up before an event.
The Dangers of Listening To Music While Cycling
Blasting music on your phone or mp3 player while riding is dangerous because the sound mutes the environmental audio feedback that you would otherwise receive. This includes accelerating vehicles as well as cyclists and pedestrians that could be trying to tell you something important.
Thus, you may find yourself in a situation when an unexpected motorized vehicle, a cyclist or even an electric scooter comes out of nowhere. For that reason, cycling on a public road with headphones on is prohibited by law in some countries.
The dangers are even greater if the cyclist doesn’t have another feedback source such as a bicycle mirror.
Of course, Tour De France riders are not commuters and cycle on closed roads during competitions. However, the same principle applies. They still have to be aware of the surrounding traffic which includes other competitors as well as support cars and motorcycles.
The riders should also be capable of hearing their teammates and rivals.
- Lack Of Communication
Cycling teams rely on a unique radio frequency to communicate. Thus, the riders have to carry a small radio weighing about 200 grams.
The communication channel serves the following functions
- Inform riders of their position in the race as well as dangers ahead
- Inform support vehicles of crashes and riders in need of a bike replacement or medical help
- General communication between every member of the team.
Since team communication is essential for successful performance, riders are not allowed to listen to their favorite tunes.
- Disturbed Emotional Equilibrium
Music greatly affects the emotional state of a human being. If you listen to sad songs, you’re very likely to start feeling sad yourself. If you listen to motivational hype songs, you’re very likely to feel energized and ready to conquer the world.
Both ends of the spectrum have negatives and disturb one’s emotional equilibrium. Sadness and depression deplete your energy whereas aggressive songs overstress one’s adrenal glands and cause premature burnout. The adrenaline that’s released from listening to epic songs quickly disappears.
In the best-case scenario, the rider’s mood is stable. One should be neither demotivated nor emotionally “amped” to the maximum.
For that reason, music has to go. Otherwise, one is very likely to lose emotional stability and underperform.
At the end of the day, Tour De France competitions are a marathon and last multiple hours. The only way to survive such an event is to use your energy strategically.
By introducing music to the set-up, one is adding another source of distraction. The rider would also have to carry an extra device and manipulate it to switch between songs or increase/decrease the volume.
Those actions act as a pointless distraction especially when you account for the fact that music could easily become harmful to one’s biorhythms.
For optimal performance, riders have to stay in the present moment instead of daydreaming.
Music doesn’t help with that goal since it takes you to different places by overstimulating your brain.
- Ear Pain
Cyclists wear helmets preventing the use of large headphones. Thus, one has to stick to earbuds that go fairly deep into the ear canal. Since Tour De France competitions take place outdoors and are attended by a large crowd, one will also have to increase the volume of the phone or player to a very high level to hear the music.
Blasting loud music through earbuds for hours is very likely to cause ear pain. Since cycling competitions are painful enough on their own, it doesn’t make much sense to introduce yet another source of discomfort.
In What Situations Do Tour De France Riders Listen To Music?
It’s technically possible for a Tour De France rider to listen to music during training and non-sanctioned events. Whether this is happening depends on the particular rider. In general, however, most riders avoid listening to music due to the greater risk of missing crucial traffic sounds.