Breakaway tactics

Sorry but this is probably a stupid question … I obviously understand why but, how do you take a rider out the back of breakaway. Is it purely down to strong riders riding harder and pressuring a weaker rider? How does this work when you have a strong GC rider that you don’t want in the breakaway? Is it an aerodynamic thing or just pure power? Thanks in advance … actually Adam Blythe has just explained some of it on commentary

One of the bests way to shed a rider in a break (or any other situation) is to attack them just after they’ve taken a big pull on the front. This won’t always work though. You need a small enough group and if you happen to drop anyone else they’ll just work together to come back on. You’ll need to also consider the terrain you attack on and if the person you’re trying to drop is a climber/TTist etc (you don’t want to attack a climber on a climb if you’re not a climber!). If the it’s windy, attacking in a crosswind is often quite effective.

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IMO there are 2 types of scenarios for taking a rider “out the back of a breakaway”. Scenario one is simply taking the rider out the back when he’s not pulling and clearly one of the weaker links. This way he won’t magically find some legs in the sprint or at 1 km to go and take the win. This tactic works if rider A is clearly stronger than rider B, rider A just sits up when he pulls off and B doesn’t come around him, let’s the gap open up a perilous amount, then jumps hard to go back to the break leaving B dead in the water.

The 2nd scenario is more common in criterium racing, and that is where a rider who is very confident of winning the sprint takes a non-sprinter out of the back via the same tactic. The sprinter knows the guy might be a strong TT rider, so late in the break he uses his jump to get rid of the big motor guy once he’s effectively used him up. Again, this way the sprinter does not have to worry the motor will make a long range attack for the line. Much the same as above, the sprinter has to be very confident he can do this move and get back to the break without actually compromising his final sprint.

FWIW, in my racing days I had both of these tactics used on me to be taken out the back. Both scenarios suck :rofl:

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I’m a bit hopeless with tactics but I love having an opinion. So I’d say the most effective way is if you have companions who share your objective. Just take turns to attack and let the rider you want to shed close the gap - every time. He’ll get tired. The risk there is that you might lose the race if it works by someone attacking ahead of you - throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You see this tactic in the pros - but they are more organised than us amateurs who will happily tow a non-contributing sprinter to the line and wonder why we didn’t win :slight_smile:

As Wade said, the best way is to wait until they’re recovering from pulling a turn. But the problem is, that doesn’t work when you’re trying to shed them for not pulling a turn.

One of my favorite moments ever was when I was in a (6 person?) chase group and someone attacked after the new strong (but dumb) guy had done a pull. I had pulled right before him and said “Oh, that guy went!”
The strong guy chased and I followed behind the attacker’s teammate. I dropped the strong guy and everyone else to catch the attacker. Felt like a tactical genius.
Lost the two-up sprint, and there was still a 3-man break ahead, but it still felt good.

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A climb is the best place to get rid of rider sitting on a break not doing any work. The other option is to put them in the gutter in a cross wind. This can be hard to do sometimes when you have a larger break because it takes the commitment of several riders rotating at the back to force the ‘hanger-on’ into the unaided gutter. You can see this in full effect when there is a strong crosswind and several echelons may form because the road is only so wide to accommodate a wind aided position to a limited number of riders.

This video explains the crosswind mechanics.

In a situation where only 5 guys are working in the break and 3 or 4 are hanging on, a tactic I have used (in crosswinds) is to get cooperation of the other riders working at the front in order to put the front of the echelon closer to the wind unaided side. This provides less room on the wind aided side and you can squeeze the hanger-ons out the back. They’ll either have to jump in and take turns or face the full crosswind.