Driving the break

Riding in a break part 3 – Driving the break

The scenario

You’re in a break and the pace starts to drop. You have a number of options: sitting in and doing nothing, continuing to work as you have been or increasing your work rate and driving the break.

In this blog entry, I’ll look at the options you have if you choose to increase your work rate and drive the break.

If the organisation in a break is poor, the break will in all likelihood fail. So there is a benefit in driving the break and putting in strong turns on the front. However there are risks. Here are a few ideas about the pros and cons of driving a break.

Upping your ineedbride work rate in the break

If you put more work into the break, you could encourage other riders in the break to contribute more, thus helping the break develop and increasing the likelihood of the break staying away. If your work rate goes up, you will be identified as the strong rider in the break.

Here's how to drive the break

When your turn comes to ride on the front of the break, don’t suddenly accelerate, as that will split the break; instead, gradually increase the pace, perhaps by a few kilometers per hour or by a few watts. Also, make your turn longer, allowing the other riders to adjust to the increased pace.

The risks

Upping your work rate may result in other riders doing less, with them taking the view “If he/she is doing all the work I don’t need to.”

If you’re identified as the strong rider, you will also be identified as a marked rider, with your opponents watching your every move and expecting you to chase any attacks that happen.

If the pace starts to drop, then you might be tempted to work harder, thus burning those matches before you need to.

How to make it work

You should encourage other riders in the break to work and to keep their work rate consistent.

Try and use time checks between the break and the peloton; if the time is coming down, then it might be a good time to drive the break. But if the time is falling quickly, then putting in a strong turn at the front may be a waste of energy.

If there are several riders not working, then the tactic of driving the break will not be that successful.

Driving a break can be a great tactic, and it can contribute to the break staying away, but there are risks. If you’re driving the break, it’s important to watch the other riders in the break and to keep an eye on their work rate, in order to ensure that everyone is contributing. There is always a calculation to be made between the break and the peloton, between you and the other riders in the break. If you get that calculation right, the break can stay away; if you get it wrong, you will in all likelihood be caught.