Criterium Attacking

Do you attack?

First you need to have a race strategy.  If your race strategy is to win by sprinting at the end, then don’t attempt a breakaway.  In fact you will want to sit in as much as possible and have your teammates chase down all of the breaks.  If you want to be in a break as a strategy to win, then you need to prepare yourself  mentally for this.  You have to start think about when you will attack, how you are going to attack, what you are going to do if you don’t make the break, and what is your relative fitness level.  

When you make a decision to attack you need to be 100% committed to it…be in it to win it.  This means that you are willing to not finish the race to make the attack work…you must be willing to blow up.  Attacks don’t work if you only half heartily attack or give up at the first bit of pain.  Attacking is hard, and this is why you need to mentally prepare for this type of effort.  At this point, you either have trained right or not, but you will find out.  You train hard so that you can handle the suffering involved with attacking. 

How do you attack?

If you want a break it works better to have some people with you.  Solo attacks are a waste of effort.  You need to attack such that you get some other riders to help make a break.

Double Attack

I sometimes will use the double attack when I don’t want to do a solo effort.  I will attack hard from about 10 positions back so that anyone that is interested will see me and have time react.  The first attack is hard enough to get some separation.  Once I get a few people who are looking to be active, then I lay down a hard effort for about a lap.  At this point, I am suffering and the others need to help out.  Most of the time, they are willing, but you might need to “encourage” them to help with the elbow wave  or yelling. 

Roll Off

If you are already at the front, you can roll off the front in a sneaky non-obvious attack.  This usually works if you accelerate while seated before a corner and take the corner hard.  Then ramp up the speed hard out of the corner while still seated.  This tends to work well when the pace has been high. 

Noisy Attack

Start further back, and sprint up the side of the pack.  You need to do some acting here so that it is obvious that you are attacking.   You will get some people on your wheel.  Then you go hard for a lap, and then look for your “friends” to help.


If a break has formed and the team mixture is right, then you need decide if you can make up to the break.  The problem in this situation is that you might bring the whole field up.  You need to create separation fast and go into solo attack mode.

When do you attack?

For sure you need to wait for second half of the race.  The early breaks are brought back by nervous racers and teams protecting their sprinters.  The energy level in the pack needs to be reduced.   You need to conserve your energy for the attack.  It is usually best to plan your attack so that you have gained a separation as the pack heads into a headwind or challenging set of corners.  You need sometime for the break to gain distance from the pack.  The more the distance and the quicker it is reached:  the slower the pack will be to react.  If the pack as been going hard for awhile, then you should attack.  This pack will use the opportunity to slow down if a break is forming if the pace has been hard.   Also, the riders that will join you will have some fitness.  Primes a forced speeding up of the pack with a defined slow down, so you can you the finish of the Prime sprint to start a breakaway.  Counter attacking a break that was just caught works well.  The field is looking  for a rest so there will be a hesitation as the break is caught so attack.  Sometimes, it will work to attack the pack when it is going slow, but most of the time there are too many fresh guys and the whole pack just speeds up and you get nowhere.  There sometimes will be a hesitation in the pack with 2-3 laps to go.  If you have not attacked yet, this is a great time to go.  This is just far enough away that the lead-out trains are getting organized for their sprints so they are not ready yet.  Rolling off of the front is great for this.

You are in a break, now what?

Next post!