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Breakaway: what to do with a sprinter?

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Breakaway: what to do with a sprinter?

28 Jun 2017 07:03

I break away from the bunch in an attempt to win the race alone. However a sprinter bridges the gap. He won't take turns. What can I do to get rid of him?
All I can think of is to...
  1. Attack again in the hope of dropping him.
  2. If not, perhaps repeat the attacks to wear him down (but I too am getting worn down).
  3. Push him off the road when nobody is looking :eek: .
  4. Make a deal to work together and see what happens at the finish (at least I will get second place).
  5. Resign to return back into the bunch, and hope for a second place.

What would you do?
User avatar Bull
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28 Jun 2017 10:15

If they bridge a decent gap they probably aren't a sprinter. What'd you do depends on the specific race scenario, parcours, environmental conditions, team strategy and tactics, and your own abilities on the day. In general if you know you are in a winning break with a superior finisher, then you need to improve your odds of winning by getting rid of them at some stage, usually by attacking, and sometimes several times.

If they have a superior finish and are aerobically superior as well (and reasonably tactically astute) then you are probably screwed but it is still possible to out sprint a better sprinter if you know what you are doing.

#3 is assault. Don't.
User avatar Alex Simmons/RST
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28 Jun 2017 11:06

Instead of #3, simply trick him into taking a wrong turn. :p
Aka The Ginger One.
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28 Jun 2017 13:28

I just make sure I'm aerobically stronger than all the sprinters in the race and drop them.
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User avatar King Boonen
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Re:

28 Jun 2017 21:25

Thanks Alex for info. Learnt a new word today - 'parcours'.
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:... but it is still possible to out sprint a better sprinter if you know what you are doing.
Could you tell me more, or refer me to info, on how to out sprint a better sprinter?
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Re:

28 Jun 2017 21:26

RedheadDane wrote:Instead of #3, simply trick him into taking a wrong turn. :p
Oh, that's a good one. :lol:
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Re:

28 Jun 2017 21:35

King Boonen wrote:I just make sure I'm aerobically stronger than all the sprinters in the race and drop them.
Is that possible to know that by a field of riders you are unfamiliar with. Or is it something measured in others during a race, like doing probing breakaways/attacks?
Or are you referring to 'dropping them' in terms of breaking away and riding at a TT pace, until they are too far for them to bridge the gap?

Please excuse my ignorance in these matters.
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28 Jun 2017 22:40

I'm guessing it's a hypothetical question about breaking away during a race and then having someone bridge to you.
That's unlikely to happen in a typical 1-day race unless both riders are considerably stronger than the others.

The reality is that there will usually be many other strong riders who won't let the break happen. The group of strong riders will ride hard to force weaker riders to lose contact, and then the remaining strong riders will go full-out in the last several miles to determine final positions.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
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Re: Re:

29 Jun 2017 15:24

Bull wrote:
King Boonen wrote:I just make sure I'm aerobically stronger than all the sprinters in the race and drop them.
Is that possible to know that by a field of riders you are unfamiliar with. Or is it something measured in others during a race, like doing probing breakaways/attacks?
Or are you referring to 'dropping them' in terms of breaking away and riding at a TT pace, until they are too far for them to bridge the gap?

Please excuse my ignorance in these matters.

This is a great question and some interesting points I think, especially for those of us that do a lot of amatuer races. Riders often get labelled as a sprinter, or workhorse or whatever, but often these labels are very general and, at that level, the best sprinters can also have amazing aerboic engines. So, a rider who has already managed bridged to you, is probably more than just a 'sprinter'/

Ultimately, if a rider is a much faster sprinter than you and very strong aerobically; you're relying on luck or a bad tactical error from them to win (and this happens a lot in the pressure of a final km, even from world class riders like Sagan). I guess the optimal strategy would be to sit up and wait for a group of 3 or 4 chasing; then, in a group of 5 or 6 tactics take on a much more important role. You could try and do a Terpstra at Paris-Roubaix for example - although in amateur races I find this kind of move rarely works. If this isn't possible, then I think attacking just before he bridges would make the most sense. He's probably already close to power at vo2 max to make the gap, so a brief acceleration before he bridges could be enough to snap the elastic.

If it's just you and a good sprinter clear of a larger group though, then I suppose you have to work with him until the final km or so and then just sit on the wheel and take whatever advantage you can. Or maybe, if you have a strong sprinter teammate behind, you can let the other guy do all the work (but you'll quickly get a bad reputation on a amateur scene if you do that too often). Tactics will only take you so far, so if the other guy is as strong aerobically and a much better sprinter, then you're probably going to have to accept 2nd place.
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Re: Re:

29 Jun 2017 21:47

Bull wrote:Thanks Alex for info. Learnt a new word today - 'parcours'.
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:... but it is still possible to out sprint a better sprinter if you know what you are doing.
Could you tell me more, or refer me to info, on how to out sprint a better sprinter?

Better positioning, force them to do more work, know the course, take advantage of crosswinds and gutter, make a surprise attack, watch them closely and find a moment of inattention, make it a long sprint, vary the pace a lot above threshold, learn to corner better, use hills or inclines to your advantage, understand about giving some space and running at a wheel. Lots of possibilities.

There are plenty of things one can do, and what may work depends on a range of factors on the day as well as the relative abilities of each.

What is certain is that if you try nothing or do basic things wrong (e.g. Landa's two stages losses at the Giro when he opened the door on the inside twice) you will lose.

One thing people can do to improve finishing skills is to take up track racing. In a typical season of track you'll get to practice finishing a bike race many more times than in an entire career of road racing. What a great opportunity to learn and to try things. And you'll also come up against much better sprinters than there are in road racing which will extend you. Road race sprinters are not genuine sprinters, they are strong aerobic beasts with a really good top end power, race smarts and cajones, which is why on the track they ride the endurance events, not sprint events. Track teaches you plenty of race smarts, craft, positioning and importantly, patience and timing of your effort(s).
User avatar Alex Simmons/RST
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Re: Re:

29 Jun 2017 22:25

DFA123 wrote:This is a great question and some interesting points I think, especially for those of us that do a lot of amatuer races. Riders often get labelled as a sprinter, or workhorse or whatever, but often these labels are very general and, at that level, the best sprinters can also have amazing aerboic engines. So, a rider who has already managed bridged to you, is probably more than just a 'sprinter'/

Ultimately, if a rider is a much faster sprinter than you and very strong aerobically; you're relying on luck or a bad tactical error from them to win (and this happens a lot in the pressure of a final km, even from world class riders like Sagan). I guess the optimal strategy would be to sit up and wait for a group of 3 or 4 chasing; then, in a group of 5 or 6 tactics take on a much more important role. You could try and do a Terpstra at Paris-Roubaix for example - although in amateur races I find this kind of move rarely works. If this isn't possible, then I think attacking just before he bridges would make the most sense. He's probably already close to power at vo2 max to make the gap, so a brief acceleration before he bridges could be enough to snap the elastic.

If it's just you and a good sprinter clear of a larger group though, then I suppose you have to work with him until the final km or so and then just sit on the wheel and take whatever advantage you can. Or maybe, if you have a strong sprinter teammate behind, you can let the other guy do all the work (but you'll quickly get a bad reputation on a amateur scene if you do that too often). Tactics will only take you so far, so if the other guy is as strong aerobically and a much better sprinter, then you're probably going to have to accept 2nd place.
To clarify myself, I am a late bloomer in cycling, and race in a masters group. A few years ago I had a bad fall and both recovery (slight brain damage) and motivation to return to cycling has been slow. I am just now giving it another go because it is the only thing that empowers me to love life while I got it.

DFA123, thanks for that extra info. I'll keep that in mind, especially about attacking again just before he bridges the gap. About accepting 2nd place, and tactics will only take you so far, I now remember a tactic which only worked once with this faster sprinter. We were approaching the final kilometers. I noticed he kept looking over his right shoulder to see were I was. At 300 m to go I hid on his left side. At 200 m to go he turned to look again but did not see me. As soon as he turned to look the other way I swerved around to his right and went for it. His delayed reaction was just enough to finish a few inches ahead of him.
User avatar Bull
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Re: Re:

30 Jun 2017 07:23

Bull wrote:We were approaching the final kilometers. I noticed he kept looking over his right shoulder to see were I was. At 300 m to go I hid on his left side. At 200 m to go he turned to look again but did not see me. As soon as he turned to look the other way I swerved around to his right and went for it. His delayed reaction was just enough to finish a few inches ahead of him.

Perfect! That's what I mean by looking for a moment of inattention!

Many of us have suffered bad injury and for some a comeback is part of their rehab, for others it can be hard to gather the motivation. I've been in both situations.

I had a bad training accident and ended up with lower leg amputation. I came back strongly though and raced as well as ever and managed to get some nice wins and set some PBs. But eventually life took over and I stopped racing, and also stopped riding. I could not longer summon the desire to train on the very unfriendly city roads any more. It was no fun. Without the burning desire for being competitive, riding had little purpose or interest for me.

Fast forward 6 years and I now live in a very bike friendly location and have finally managed over the past 6 weeks to start back riding and begin to enjoy the process of gaining fitness. But more importantly the riding is enjoyable, albeit it hard because of my low fitness and excess weight.

All I can suggest is to think about the things to do with the bike that you most enjoy and do more of that. For me it used to be that when I was a bit down on motivation I would head down to the track for some training with the guys - I just loved the track and it always lifted my spirits. What lifts your spirits only you can know.
User avatar Alex Simmons/RST
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Re: Re:

30 Jun 2017 10:16

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:...All I can suggest is to think about the things to do with the bike that you most enjoy and do more of that. For me it used to be that when I was a bit down on motivation I would head down to the track for some training with the guys - I just loved the track and it always lifted my spirits. What lifts your spirits only you can know.

Wow. Thanks for sharing your story of coming back and beyond. Very inspirational.

Thanks for getting me to think about what it is I enjoy most about cycling. For me it's about fanging it down the road while everybody is trying to catch me but to no avail :lol: . But at the moment, that is just a dream which will come about soon enough. Perhaps next year after losing my excess weight. I have recently re-joined our local masters club and already making a mental note on everyone's strengths and weaknesses (can't help it). So far, no-one is unbeatable.

The other thing I enjoy is riding alone. I live in rural Australia and love sight-seeing and taking photos.

There is one thing I really miss. When I was fit I could slip into the zone on nearly every ride. I'd first go into a steady tempo and then start to let go of all my concerns. When I had reach total acceptance, all my fears (as subtle as they may be) disappear. At that point I become aware of everything within and around me. I even become aware of what is about to happen next. I love that the most about cycling. Last week I got a snippet of sliding into the zone, but it ended very quickly. I am looking forward to becoming re-acquainted with it again.
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Re: Re:

30 Jun 2017 20:47

Bull wrote:
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:...All I can suggest is to think about the things to do with the bike that you most enjoy and do more of that. For me it used to be that when I was a bit down on motivation I would head down to the track for some training with the guys - I just loved the track and it always lifted my spirits. What lifts your spirits only you can know.

Wow. Thanks for sharing your story of coming back and beyond. Very inspirational.

Thanks for getting me to think about what it is I enjoy most about cycling. For me it's about fanging it down the road while everybody is trying to catch me but to no avail :lol: . But at the moment, that is just a dream which will come about soon enough. Perhaps next year after losing my excess weight. I have recently re-joined our local masters club and already making a mental note on everyone's strengths and weaknesses (can't help it). So far, no-one is unbeatable.

The other thing I enjoy is riding alone. I live in rural Australia and love sight-seeing and taking photos.

There is one thing I really miss. When I was fit I could slip into the zone on nearly every ride. I'd first go into a steady tempo and then start to let go of all my concerns. When I had reach total acceptance, all my fears (as subtle as they may be) disappear. At that point I become aware of everything within and around me. I even become aware of what is about to happen next. I love that the most about cycling. Last week I got a snippet of sliding into the zone, but it ended very quickly. I am looking forward to becoming re-acquainted with it again.

Starting back is hard and fitness takes time, patience and perseverance to attain. But you have experience of what you most enjoy and worked out what drives you to get back there, at least for now.

My power is less than 2/3rds of what it was, and I'm 30kg heavier so every ride is hard and there is no "zone", rather it's just about getting get my fat **** moving again. It's not pretty but I'm riding and that's what matters most.

And thinking back to the theme of this thread, my last race win was a bridge across to a 2-man break with half an hour to go and then outsprint/outwit two stronger riders in the finale. That was 4 years after my amputation. Everyone has different challenges and not everyone can return to a level they once had, still - set no limits (but have reasonable goals), follow good process, keep it enjoyable and make it about the journey.

Hopefully where you live is as nice to ride as where I am. I chose where I am now partly because the riding opportunities are so nice.
User avatar Alex Simmons/RST
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01 Jul 2017 03:27

Thank you all for your help and sharing.
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