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You finally made the breakaway…now what?

Tips and tricks for when you find yourself in the winning move

You finally made the breakaway...now what?

You’ve been trying and trying to get in the breakaway…finally, you’re there! You’re in the escape of the day the gap seems to be sticking. Now what?

Getting in the right move is a combination of reading the race, timing, and luck. Going with the right selection of riders that may represent the bigger clubs or teams helps. As does going when there’s a lull in the action. When the peloton pauses and looks at each other when there’s a break, the gap will increase fast. Then, once the move is up the road, it means that others have to expend energy to try and haul it back in–something that not everyone wants to.

Here are some tips for when you find yourself away.

Relax and conserve

If you find yourself in a small group, it means you’ll be at the front doing your pull much more than if you were in a pack. That means when you’re not pulling, you need to relax and recover as much as possible. Focus on your breathing, and try to lower your heart rate. Relax your body and be smooth and fluid so as not to waste energy. When I get tired, I tend to lock up my elbows. But it’s important to try and relax your body and keep a good position, even when you’re in the pain locker. That’s much easier than done, but being aware of this will help you burn fewer matches and help for the finish. Hydrate and fuel before you head to the front again.


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Be cagey

There’s no rule in cycling that says you have to help your opponent beat you. If you feel like taking shorter pulls–or fewer, or none at all–you can. You may get an earful but it’s up to your rivals to deal with that. They may try taking you off the back, or they may just yell at you. Likewise, be mindful of others doing that to you. Whoever does the least work will have the freshest legs.

How do pro teams know when to chase down the breakaway?

If you’re familiar with your breakaway partners, then consider what will happen in the finish. Are they better sprinters than you? Or are you better than them? Think about the best way to try and beat them beforehand. Have a strategy and stick to it. The nature of the race can change in an instant, but be confident in your strengths and use them accordingly.

Ride behind someone bigger and smoother

This may seem silly, but if possible try and make sure the person you’re riding behind is the same size–or even bigger. You also want to make sure the rider you’re riding behind isn’t surging–those blips on your legs will zap your strength. Try and ride behind the smoothest one in the break, because the closer you are to their back wheel means the less energy you will expend. All the while, focus on your cadence. Try not to grind too much when you’re pulling through or in the break as that will also wear you out.

Decide on your goal: a win or a result?

Are you trying to win? Or is top-five your goal? If you’re looking for a solid result, then it’s fine to do lots of work in the break. A fifth is still a great result. But if you want to win, then don’t race for second. If the pack is bearing down on you, there’s no reason to pull the break, unless you feel confident that you will still be stronger than everyone. The more time you spend in the breakaway, the better you’ll become at understanding and executing tactical moves. Either way, have fun! Breaks are one of the most exciting aspects of bike racing.