Attacking from a break
Riding in a break part 5
Riding in a break is all well and good. But what happens if the pace is dropping or you’re approaching the finish and there is a faster sprinter with you or someone is riding across who doesn’t want to be in the break?
Attacking from the break is an effective and often decisive tactic, so when and how should you deploy it and what are the potential risks in doing so?
How to attack from a break
As with any attack, timing is everything. Judge your moment to attack − perhaps when the pace drops slightly, for example, when someone is eating or drinking. Look for that point where there is a few seconds’ hesitation before a chase is organised.
Don’t attack from the front; come from a few wheels back. This will ensure that you are at full speed as you pass the rider on the front, giving you a few seconds’ grace until everyone else is up to speed.
When to attack from a break
- If the break is slowing or the bunch is catching you
- If there is a faster sprinter in the break, who you think will beat you in a straight out sprint
- If you are feeling strong and you doubt the other riders are likely to chase you
- If you are looking to gain time in a stage race
- If you are outnumbered by other teams and you need to get away before they start to “work you over”
- If the break is about to be absorbed by the bunch and, in the confusion, you think you may not be noticed
- If the attack is unsuccessful, you will have wasted energy
- A counter attack is likely if you get caught, and you may not have enough left to go with it
- If the attack fails, the break could fail as riders stop working and start thinking about their own chances
What to look out for
Watch the speed of the break; you don’t want to attack when the break is at full pace, as the likelihood of staying away is reduced.
Be aware of the finish and how far you are away from it. Do you want to attack 20 k out? Could you stay away at that distance? Do you want to attack before the climb at 5 k or after it?
Know who in the break is riding strongly and is likely to chase you down. Launch your attack when they are at the back of the break having just done a turn. You may need to miss a turn or change your position in order to get into the ideal place. If you think you will be chased down, think about forming an alliance with another rider so that you can attack together. This may allow you to attack from further out, as you will be able to share the work to the finish.
Attacking from a break can be a race-winning move, but if you get your timing wrong, it is equally as likely to end in disaster. As with all race tactics, know your capabilities and those of your opponents and plan your move before making it.