Over many TFNs, the sweep has become a sort of dreaded word for many! Nothing could be farther from reality. There is no real need for this anxiety and I hope to dispel this with the following explanation of the mechanism.
The sweep is a mechanism built into TFN to ensure the riders’ safety. It helps us with our no-riding-after-dark policy. What this means is that we have a cut-off time within which all riders should have reached the hotel, which is generally 5:30 – 6 PM. Going backwards from this timeline, we have cut-off times for each of the support stations. When adhered to, these cut-off times will ensure that the riders reach the hotel with natural light to spare. If we find that a rider is not making this cut, we help him/her out with our sweep. The sweep will pick the rider up and drop him/her to the next SS so that he/she can start riding from there to hope to make the cut-off time of the next SS. And so on and so forth. In the same vein, if the sweep catches up with the rider between the last SS and the hotel, the rider is taken to the hotel.
Sometimes, riders are not able to ride further due to mechanical difficulties or injuries or fatigue. Even in such cases the sweep picks them up and takes them along to the hotel. In such a situation, the rider waits for the sweep if that is close by, or if possible gets dropped to the next SS by one of the mobile support vehicles, from where the sweep picks him up.
The reason some of the competitively inclined riders baulk at being swept is that if swept, it means that the rider has not completed the tour by riding…., which automatically disqualifies him from the GC of the race.
Except for this, there is no reason to fear or avoid the sweep, especially when it is warranted as explained above in the context of rider safety.
TFN uses every opportunity to motivate and encourage each rider to ride as far as possible under his/her own steam. So, if the time has come to sweep, it means that accepted safe riding avenues have been exhausted and it is important for the rider to get on to the vehicle. I would expect all the riders to appreciate this and not negotiate at that time.