Crit Breakaway Tactics

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by gnd46, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. gnd46

    gnd46 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Situation: You are in an 8-man break with no teammates in the break or in the peloton. It is quickly becoming obvious that the break will get away because two riders are extremely eager to pull.

    The Course: Flat with one technical hairpin. .77 miles.

    What should one do?
    Sit in, look pretty, and contest the sprint?
    Work until the break is obviously away, then do the above?
     
    Tags:


  2. gnd46

    gnd46 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    oh, and fyi there were two teams with 2 men each in the break one of which had a very strong rider.
     
  3. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,517
    Likes Received:
    46
    Depends on your strengths relative to your break-mates.
    If you're a good sprinter (relative to the others or you just simply know it) - sit, or take ridiculously short pulls when you're on the front.
    If you're not a good sprinter, definitely work to help the break succeed.
    If you know you're the relative 'weak link' in the break, do as the good sprinter does and then throw a "hail Mary" at the around the 1km mark. Doing this is always better than finishing 8th and not having tried anything to better your odds for a successful outcome...

    EDIT: interested in hearing what you actually did in your described situation...
     
  4. gnd46

    gnd46 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, let me preface this by saying that it was my second crit (and bike race for that matter). My pre-race plan was to sit in toward the top 10-15, then contest the sprint and see how it goes. This didn't really take into account the politics of the breakaway. Once in the break I did exactly that; sat in and waited for the sprint. Unfortunately, i did end up at the front of the paceline, but stuck to my original plan, which was to kind of hang out (which meant getting to the front, soft-pedaling and waiting until someone decided to take the pace). Needless to say, this infuriated the rest of the break. In a sense, I was doing negative work because every time I got to the front, the pace lifted. So the others started hammering to try to shake me loose. Didn't work, and ended up shaking loose half of the break. Now we were down to 4.

    Despite this sort of in-fighting within the break, it did manage to stay away. Toward the end, everyone in the break was cooked except me. With about 1K to go, I was told not to contest the sprint because I hadn't contributed to the break's success, but by this point the in-fighting had gotten me pretty mad. So I said "f** it" and took the sprint by a wide margin.

    This was certainly not how I had envisioned the race to go and this was a lot of animosity created for an early season crit. Perhaps short (but good) pulls at the front would have mitigated this effect or maybe just trying to match the average work of everyone else would have helped..
     
  5. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    Nice work and don't take any of that 'you didn't work so you shouldn't sprint' crap. It's a race and your tactics are completely legal and valid. It's their job to get rid of you if you aren't helping the break and they failed in their attempts to do that.

    It's a race after all, not a club training ride and you played out a sprinter's game. Do you think the pros try to tell Cavendish he hasn't earned the right to sprint because he didn't drive the pace? There's a weird club mentality in many amateur races, especially lower category races where that kind of ridiculous logic applies. Ignore it, nice job winning your second race.


    Nothing wrong with the way you played it, but yeah in general working enough to keep the break moving and doing as much but no more than your break companions is more likely to get you to the line in a small group than intentionally soft pulling or avoiding pulls all together. Often a break will fail just because one or more riders refused to work and the others decide not to tow them to the finish. So yeah more often than not a bit of work, but not too much, is a better way to play the odds and it will help you to fly a bit lower under the radar so you don't get singled out to get gapped off or otherwise worked over by some savvy riders.

    But you rolled the dice with an entirely valid strategy and it payed off. Nicely done!

    -Dave
     
  6. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,517
    Likes Received:
    46
    Well played...
    Dave echoes my sentiment on the "let's play nice" theme your breakmates expected you to adhere to.
    Don't contest the sprint?! Are you kidding me?! I woulda laughed out loud/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif and said, "See ya' at the finish line" - just as you did. Good on ya'...
    Be prepared for some even more childish behavior from those guys when you see them again...
     
  7. gnd46

    gnd46 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the advice dave and tony. The whole dont-contest-the sprint-thing was a little shocking. My local team has a wide range of categories, so I've had the good fortune of being able to jump in on some higher category rides and practice races, and I've never heard anyone even mention the idea.

    I agree with Dave that its important to not be singled out. The probability that I was going to survive their attempt to get rid of me was certainly not 100% so it would have been better to stay under the radar.

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  8. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    21
    In your situation, having no teammates you were slowing the pace to assist, it was stupid to sit at the front and soft-pedal. A short turn or even just dropping back right away is smarter. Just sitting at the back would have been best.

    You won because you were stronger than the other guys out there. Wait until you are riding with people of comparable strength. They will eat you up and spit you out the back.

    And at your next race: the guys you were in the break with will remember you..
     
  9. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,517
    Likes Received:
    46
    Why don't you tell us how you really feel?? LOL!
    I guess when you're "an old guy" you don't have time or patience to mince words, do you?
     
  10. quenya

    quenya New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    411
    Likes Received:
    3
    For what it's worth, if you were pulling that in a break with me I'd have sat up or marked your wheel so hard you'd have never gotten a gap, you better believe I wouldn't have waited until the end and expected some "honorable" behavior on your part. And, the next time you showed up in a break with me I would be hard pressed not to break check you at every opportunity at the least and if you're front wheel were to make contact with my rear I certainly wouldn't feel bad. I'm not sure why your break let that happen or what the field was thinking but don't expect to purposefully slow down the break your in and still be allowed to race for the victory. Watch out for those guys you beat in the future, especially if they have frame pumps. How much money did you win?
     
  11. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    Careful with that line of thinking. His tactics while perhaps frustrating and not likely to work around more experienced racers were entirely legal. Intentionally causing a crash is not however legal regardless of how frustrated you might be. 'Brake Checkin' may happen but when it's an intentional move to cause a wreck it's definitely coloring outside the lines and subject to a DQ or worse if an official in the follow car sees a pattern of intent. Sure it happens but there's a big sportsmanship difference between playing by the rules and infuriating your opponents vs. intentionally violating the rules.

    But sure, it happens and I definitely wouldn't recommend actively slowing down the break unless you're playing for a team mate back in the field and good advice to be careful around those guys in upcoming races as they're likely to be very unhappy about the way things played out.

    FWIW, my sprint is at best average and I'll do whatever it takes to sustain a promising looking break and have been duly frustrated by sprinter's taking the free ride to the final 200 meters but those tactics are entirely valid and it's my job and that of others trying to make the break succeed to lose that guy or at least take the sprint out of his legs as best we can. Gapping is a valid strategy, attacking him at every opportunity, ganging up with repeated attacks, killing the hills where he might struggle are all valid racing tactics. Slamming brakes in front of him is not and I'd recommend you don't try that hoping to shake Tony out of a break if he chooses to sit in....

    -Dave
     
  12. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,517
    Likes Received:
    46
    LOL! Come on Dave, you got me ALL wrong. I wouldn't mind at all someone brake-checking me to keep me from sittin' in a break. That I happen to touch their wheel and crash would be of no consequence, as I'd just chalk it up to 'all's fair in love and racing'...









    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif and if you believe the above, you might as well consider today as being April 1st!
     
  13. quenya

    quenya New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    411
    Likes Received:
    3
    Dave from what I can tell you are a good guy, and while I might say 'consider the brake check' I think I could control myself, that said I have known some real jerks who might try something that nasty. I wouldn't do what our OP did because that tactic isn't sustainable (just like intentionally causing a crash wouldnt be sustainable) I'm surprised it worked... I'd be shocked if it worked again... and I doubt anyone would work in a break with him if he gets a reputation for riding that way. I am surprised how angry I got reading the OPs post. But, as angry as I am I imagine the guys you sucked the wheels of are way more so, the OP may have created enemies for no reason. I mean if you put in the effort to stay with a group trying to drop you couldn't you have just taken your pulls. Perhaps I over reacted because I've shut down decent breaks because of riders trying to pull the exact same stunt. I think I'm going to have to put some of this energy into my breakaway in Hanford next Sunday and not carry it around here.
     
  14. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2008
    Messages:
    10,057
    Likes Received:
    185
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by daveryanwyoming .




    Careful with that line of thinking. His tactics while perhaps frustrating and not likely to work around more experienced racers were entirely legal. Intentionally causing a crash is not however legal regardless of how frustrated you might be.
    -Dave


    Brake checking is too obvious and if the rider behind is completely unaware and has upped the pace to get back on the back of the group, or is out the saddle stretching his legs or taking a drink the the end result will be both of you on the ground.

    I've seen some weird and wonderful stuff over the years. Everything from hands on another riders bars, bottles under front wheels, punches in the ribs (aka a Vanderaerden), holding a straight line relative to the line in the center of the road as the road narrows, arguments with such passion you wonder how the feck they could shout that hard at speed. I've even seen supporting motorcycles take out riders from other clubs or take them off course. LOL.

    The old favorite is the best though:

    Taking a wider line around a corner while the 'offending slacker' is half a wheel back on the outside, which happens to be legal...

    Whoops, didn't see you back there...
    Oh sorry, I put a bit too much air in the tires and the corner was a little bumpy...
    You were looking a little tired so I thought you needed a quick sit down on the nice grassy knoll....

    ... and while the intent is more to brown stain his chamois and not cause him to crash, sometimes the outcome is a little more vicious than the intent. Or maybe it wasn't.

    I find that leaning on people mid corner scares the bejebus right out of them and if the worst happens, falling on someones bike at speed really doesn't hurt that much.

    There was one feisty well known rider from Liverpool that had a signature "he's coming off his bike" maneuver - start sprinting as if you're attacking but do it in a manner that made Abdoujaparov look stylish and neat - not forgetting to make that sideways switcheroo across the road of course. The flailing elbows and swinging hips would hook the unsuspecting numpty right off the bike. If you ever saw the guy get into an argument with someone and he started to get out of the saddle you knew what was gonna happen. If you were behind him you'd have about 2 seconds to get out the way.
     
  15. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    I hear you Quenya, but in fairness it was the OPs second race and presumably first time ever in a break. He posted to ask if he handled it wrong and perhaps how to interpret the 'you better not sprint' talk near the end of the race.

    Yeah there's much better tactical ways to handle riding a break that you wish to succeed including ways to play a better poker game that leaves you fresh enough to sprint without obviously sitting in but like everyone else he's learning and asking questions. The other part about 'earning your right to sprint' is pure lower cat BS. Racing doesn't work that way and although I agree his tactics aren't sustainable and he's likely not made any friends among those break companions they are legitimate and there is no rule, written or implied, that requires any rider to do any work in a break or in the field but many riders sure think there is.

    I definitely see where your frustration comes from and have been in that situation many times with folks that doom the break to failure by hoping for a free ride. Sometimes they're really strong sprinters that just don't care whether they sprint against six or sixty but it really doesn't matter, they're playing out their game and we've got to play out ours. Funny how no one seems bothered by the skinny hill climber that sits in the field till the big climb then spins away from everyone or the TT specialist that sucks wheel till the right opportunity presents itself and solos away but folks get really bent about sprinters playing to their strengths. IMHO, the trick is to focus that angst at shedding the guys that aren't helping the break succeed (it get's even trickier when they're sitting in but simply having their jersey colors represented discourages their strong team from chasing the break) and seeing the situation develop early enough to speak with your legs and your tactical savvy instead of your brakes or frame pumps.

    -Dave
     
  16. quenya

    quenya New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    411
    Likes Received:
    3
    Sorry just saw this post. I'd say "soft pedalling" on the front of a breakaway is dangerous in much the same way as a 'brake check.' I think maybe I'm using a term wrong here or at least not communicating clearly. When I say brake check I'm thinking braking slightly going into turns that don't really need it or even not pedaling through a turn where I could, to force the person behind to have to work harder to stay in the draft. Again if he doesn't protect his wheel I won't feel bad but I'm not talking about intentionally crashing someone out. I'm not talking about grabbing a fist full of brake and swerving into the guys front wheel. Again, if sitting in is what you do to win, that's fine. If you disrupt the break for no reason, no teammates in the race, that's pretty sh!t racing, and if you get to the front and slow down?! That's dangerous. Tony, if you and I ever race each other and end up together in a breakaway I'll bury myself to shell you out of the group, if you stay on my wheel that's my own failure enjoy the leadout. But if you get in front of me and start soft pedaling, as our OP did... I would be displeased.
     
  17. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,517
    Likes Received:
    46
    ^^^Nothing personal, pal.
    You feel the OP didn't play fairly, and you expect things in life to be fair.
    We all do. Sucks when things don't play out as we would like. Expectations can be a b!tch sometimes.

    Just as Dave alluded to, why is it the "wheelsuckers" get the bad rap for tactics? Do we sprinters whine about great climbers who race up the hills at light-speed dropping tons of racers in their wake? Not nearly as much as people want to gang-up against sprinters and our tactics.

    Learn to play the game wisely, don't complain, appreciate tactics and strategy - getting emotional about the situation is unwise. And if you've failed in your attempt to drop me before the sprint opens up, please move aside while I zoom by. And if you've succeeded in dropping me beforehand, good on ya' as you would've definitely earned your success...
     
  18. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    21
    daveryanwyoming ---

    I think you misunderstand. No one cares if a person races to their strengths. Sprinters take advantage of group finishes. Climbers take advantage of hills. Part of pre-race planning is looking for a plan that will work to your strengths and others' weaknesses. If your plan works out, you do well.

    What is bothersome here is a person is riding poorly. For no purpose. With no knowledge. Good reason to require 10 races as a Cat 5.

    ---

    I can only think about those classic racing movies - Breaking away (the pump in the front wheel); American Fliers ("Hold your line, Summers").
     
  19. quenya

    quenya New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    411
    Likes Received:
    3
    Ummm...Thanks TZ, some good advice there "learn to play the game wisely, remain emotionally detached, get out of your way", but you're putting words in my mouth. I never mentioned unfair, it has nothing to do with fair, I love cycling because it IS NOT FAIR, it's fun. It isn't wise to play it the way our OP did, and I wouldn't do it that way, but it has nothing to do with fairness. Bike racing can be political and petty, I don't think one should seek to make enemies who he will probably be racing against again. I'm not complaining about a sprinter winning using brilliant physical gifts or tactics or luck, I'm saying that his actions may have had bad reprecussions and may still.

    I have nothing against the sprinters tactics or strategy. I really have nothing against the whole concept of wheelsucking except that I'm not good enough at it to make it work for me. But wheelsucking isn't what he did, he deliberately disrupted the group. If thats a tactic you appreciate fine, but it isn't great tactics, and strategically (as in long term, down the road) it may prove to have been a very poor decision.
     
  20. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,517
    Likes Received:
    46
    ^^^ So what - he slowed down a break by not pulling when on the front. Would I do the same thing? Probably not. I probably would've just skipped my pulls altogether and sat in the rear. Don't recall him brake-checking at any time, did he? Did he ride "poorly"? Absolutely not. But hey, everyone's entitled to their opinions - no prob there.

    Simple fact of the matter is he didn't do anything dangerous, and he didn't break any actual rules. Maybe he didn't follow the 'let's all play nice' "rules". So what he pissed some other guys off. If they can't get over it and therefore now view him as an enemy, they've got the issues - not him. Next time they'll play their tactics (legal) differently all the while behaving like adults...
     
Loading...
Loading...