8 Race Strategies for a Successful Breakaway


With race season in full swing, now is an appropriate time to discuss the intricacies of attacking. Whether you are a serious racer or just want to put the hurt on your friends during a weekday group ride (or Sunday morning coffee shop ride), it is critical to remember a few key points in order to increase your chance of success.

The main goal of any attack is to create initial separation between yourself and the rest of the group. You have to create enough of a gap to make the other riders question whether they are able and willing to regain contact with your wheel. Sometimes even a moment's hesitation by the peloton is sufficient time for you to get away. At the very least, this makes any riders attempting to bridge up to you work just as hard as you did originally.

More: Race Strategies for Breaking Away

Here are 8 tips for making a successful breakaway.

Don't lead the Peloton

Don't attack from the very front. It is generally best to be rider number two through five. Depending on how large the group is, you could potentially be a few spots further back but not much further than 10 riders. You want to be near the front, but not on the front. This allows you to use the element of surprise, and you won't be fatigued from pulling the peloton from the front.

More: 10 Secrets for Riding in a Peloton

Timing is Everything

Pick an appropriate place on the course to attack. Immediately coming out of a turn is often a good place to attack if you are near the front because the riders behind you have to slow down through the turn and must accelerate to catch back on to the front, leading to the "accordion effect." A hill or other defining feature is also generally an ideal place to attack because the group will be going at a slower pace, there is less draft benefit, and many riders may already be at their limits.

Take Note of the Wind Conditions

It is usually inadvisable to attack into a headwind because the added resistance makes it more difficult to create separation. Similarly if there is a cross wind, you'd want to attack from the side more sheltered from the wind. The strong wind makes it more difficult for you to create separation, and if anyone is able to get on your wheel, they save an incredible amount of energy by drafting.

More: 6 Cycling Drills to Improve Sprinting Speed

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About the Author

Elizabeth Martin

Elizabeth Martin earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado. She joined her school's club cycling team in 2008 and has experience racing road, track, and cyclocross. She is a certified USA Cycling coach and American College of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer and is currently working as a cycling coach for Zoom Performance in Des Moines, Iowa. She enjoys helping individuals of all abilities reach the next level. Visit her website at Getzoomperformance.com
Elizabeth Martin earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado. She joined her school's club cycling team in 2008 and has experience racing road, track, and cyclocross. She is a certified USA Cycling coach and American College of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer and is currently working as a cycling coach for Zoom Performance in Des Moines, Iowa. She enjoys helping individuals of all abilities reach the next level. Visit her website at Getzoomperformance.com

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