How To Set Up And Establish A Breakaway

Setting up a successful breakaway requires
a mixture of luck and judgement. You need to judge when you’re with the right combination of
riders, and you need that little bit of luck that the bunch won’t bring you back immediately. So how do you set a breakaway up? The first
thing to remember is to time your attack wisely. You only want a few riders to come with you
at most and the best way to ensure that is to make it hard to follow you. Attack from behind so that you’re already
travelling quickly when you pass the front riders, which discourages people from chasing
you. The other great time to attack – when you’re strong enough – is to do it when the
road or conditions make it hard, like a crosswind for example, or a climb. This will force a
selection of only the strongest riders, so you might find that although the break succeeds,
you’ll be battling with the best riders in the race for the win. In the same vein, many breaks go clear on
the counter attack. After an initial attack is being brought back and being absorbed into
the peloton, the speed will often drop slightly and this is when you need to look for your
move. When you’re away, put your head down and ride
hard. Getting a gap on the bunch doesn’t usually come easily and often this part of the race
is actually the hardest. Only when the gap to the peloton reaches a minute can you start
to ease up. If your breakaway isn’t working well, it will
probably be doomed to fail, so don’t expend too much effort trying to keep it going. Instead,
save your energy so that you can be prepared to attack again. When a break is working efficiently, the technique
of riding together will depend on the size of the group. A pace line, or ‘through and
off’, works with larger groups of over 6 riders. With smaller groups a single pace line is
best, with riders taking slightly longer turns on the front. As the race goes on, remember to eat and drink
– this is absolutely key, as you’ll be expending far more energy than you would be in the bunch
and you don’t want to blow before the end. Commit to the breakaway, but not too much.
If everyone in the group is working, do your bit. But if a rider is missing turns, don’t
feel that you need to work harder to take their place as well. Remember that it’s often
the laziest rider, not the strongest rider, that wins bike races. You don’t need to be
the rider that shouts at the others to work. Your energy will be put to better
use by pedalling and calculating how you might win. In fact, it’s helpful to be diplomatic
and friendly – you can use this to your advantage. If a member of the breakaway punctures, consider
easing off and allowing them to rejoin. 20 seconds or so lost in this manner can be quite
easily regained with a full compliment of riders. If you happen to puncture and you’ve
been shouting or missing turns, it might be that your breakaway companions won’t miss
you when you’re gone.