Someone please explain this to me!

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Pendejo, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. Pendejo

    Pendejo Member

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    I've followed bike racing for years, but I still don't understand the concept of "chasing down the break." For example, let's say the team leader is in the peloton and a contender from another team gets away on a break. So then strategy will usually dictate that one of the supporting riders on the first team chase down the break, to protect his leader.

    But how does a supporting rider who bridges the gap and gets into the breakaway help anything? It doesn't slow the break down any, unless he keeps getting in front and then slowing down. But I've never seen a chaser who's caught up do this sort of thing. He usually just tags along with the breakaway.

    So what's the story here, kids?
     
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  2. kennethn

    kennethn New Member

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    Here are a few ways a breakaway can help:
    1. If a rider gets into a break and has a strong sprinter back in the peloton, he can just sit on. If the break gets caught, his sprinter will be fresh and ready for the bunch sprint. If the break doesn't get caught, he'll be fresher than his break-mates and can win a sprint himself.
    2. A rider in a break allows his teammates back in the peloton to just sit on and rest. It's up to the other teams to chase down the break. Result: your teammates get a free ride and are fresher for any bunch finish.
    3. If a break is caught, your teammates back in the peloton have just been sitting on, allowing them to attack just after your break is caught. This can be really successful, especially if done several times when other teams are tired from chasing down breaks.
    4. A teammate in a break can help their team leader later in the race, especially in hillier races. A perfect example came in yesterday's TdF stage 15. Axel Merckx, who was in an early break, was able to pace his Floyd Landis on the final climb, even sharing his food and water. Unfortunately Floyd wasn't so lucky today :)
     
  3. Pendejo

    Pendejo Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Ken, but I still don't understand it. Your point #1 doesn't help the team leader at all, even if the chaser who joined the break wins the final sprint. Points #2 and 3 don't depend in any way on a chaser joining the break. Your point #4 is that if the team leader catches the break, the chaser will already be there to help pace him. But if the chaser just stays with the team leader to being with, he's there anyway if they catch the break and will probably be stronger since he didn't expend energy chasing the break down earlier. So I still fail to understand how a domestique (one who is not a threat to win the GC) helps his team leader by chasing down a break.
     
  4. jws

    jws New Member

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    1) his sitting on may discourage the attack
    2) and 3) do depend on a teammate in the break, though it helps a lot if the rider is either high on g.c. or a good sprinter.
    4) he's sure to be there for his leader if he's up front; otherwise he may be dropped before he's needed.

    Often, chasing down a break implies towing the field, or at least teammates up, also.
     
  5. Bobby Lex

    Bobby Lex New Member

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    If a supporting rider chases down and catches a break, he is supposed to just sit on and do no work. Three things could happen as a result, all 3 of which are good for the team and/or team leader:

    Possibility #1: the breakaway rider does all the work and gets beaten by the well-rested domestique in the final sprint, which is good for the team.

    Possibility #2: the breakaway rider, fearing the result described in #1 above, decides to give it up, he stops working, and the domestique's team leader together with the peloton catches up to him, which is good for the team leader.

    Possibility #3: the breakaway rider does all the work, but can't stay away, and the peleton reels him in, which is good for the team leader.

    Either way, it's a win-win-win situation for the team and/or team leader.

    Chasing breaks burns matches. The team leader can't afford to chase every break because he'll burn too many matches. So standard team strategy is to have a different team-mate chase each early break based on the knowledge of the 3 possible outcomes mentioned above.

    Toward the end of the race, when the team-mates have burned all their matches, then it's the leader's turn to chase. But at least he has saved himself for the end of the race when it's really crunch time.

    Clear as mud?

    Bob
     
  6. artmichalek

    artmichalek New Member

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    A lot of this depends on whether it's a one day race or a tour. 1-3 work very effectively in a one day race, but get a bit more subtle in a multi-stage event. As for 4, you'll notice that Jens Voigt did this a lot in the Giro. In the mountains he would get into the break along with a bunch of non GC contenders and sit. The idea being that if Ivan Basso had to cover a serious attack from the peleton, he would already have a helper up the road. It's much easier to have someone drop back from the break than bridge up from the main pack, particularly in the mountains.
     
  7. jyeager

    jyeager New Member

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    A junior member up in the break can also act like they are going to cooperate, but every time they rotate to the lead they can slow down a bit...sandbag.

    I've been in breaks where someone did this and it was extremely annoying. It can actually cause the group to be slower than if that extra person didn't help at all.
    It's also beneficial to have them in the break for later in the stage if the team leader has burned off all the other supporting riders, the weaker rider that was up ahead will be the last one available for assistance...upon notification he can even wait and will be momentarily fresh when reunited with the race leader.
     
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