You are in a break, now what?

Your in a break, now what?

 Okay, you are now in a break and the break has a small gap, now what?  

 You have one task to do when you get into a break:  THINK.

  • Is the break building a gap fast enough?  Is the pack chasing?
  • How many guys are in the break? 
  • Who is in the break?  Are they strong?
  • Which teams are in the break?  Is this the right make up?
  • Is the break working together?
  • Do you work or not?

It is very hard to think if you are deep in lactic acid and ready to crack!  If you started the break, then you need to pull off and get the other guys working so that you can evaluate the situation.  If the break is starting to work, then you need to yell at everyone that you guys have a gap and they need to work together.  Many times guys just don’t know what is going on.  They will be physically on the edge, and they most guys in this state will listen to simple commands.  You need to be the leader.  The first few pulls are critical for the break to solidify a gap.  It is easy for a small gap to build from one pull/attack, but unless the break keeps the effort up, the pack will quickly organize to pull the break back.  If the gap is growing quickly, the pack will be less motivated to” just” close the gap.  The break needs to get far enough away that bridging or pulling in the break is a serious effort and much more than one person can do.  The break needs to have a few guys that are going all out for the a few laps in order to get enough distance from the pack.  If a break can get a straightaway or out of sight from the pack, the pack will quickly slow it chase.  

First, you need to evaluate your break away partners.  How many guys?  Who are the guys?  Which teams, and how many from each team?  Is everyone working?   If the break is more like a split in the field with too many guys, it will not work.  Breaks with 4-8 guys tend to work the best.  This is small enough that everyone will work together and not too big to stay organized around the corners.  If the group is too big it falls apart in the corners because the guys who are just looking for a free ride can find ways to sit in.  You need to look at who is in the break.  If they are the top riders from the right teams are represented, then you know that their team will be working to help slow the chase, then you have “chosen” the right break.  If there are no top teams represented in the break, the top teams will be working to chase the break.  However, this is not always the case.  At a minimum you need to have strong riders in the break who are working to keep the break pace high.

Second,  Are you making time on the pack or is the pack chasing?  Can you hold on to the pace?,  How many laps to the finish?   The riders in the break need to be working on the edge of their fitness, but at some point this can either cause riders to drop out of the break or start to skip turns.  As riders start to tire out, the break can start to fall apart.  Guys can only go above the LT zone for so long before they crack.  If only a few guys are working at there are more than one hanger, then the strong guys will most likely stop working.  You must be a cheer leader in a break.  When guys are on the edge, you must tell everyone to keep everyone working and taking pulls.  Early into a break, you need everyone to work on the edge.  It is better that you get a marginal guys to crack himself now rather than having him hanging on at the back.

Finally, you need to evaluate quickly if you should burn your matches with this break.  Is this the break that you are willing to lay it on the line for, i.e. is this the right time in the race and the right break.  You need to make sure that you don’t just start hammering at the front of a break only to have the pack chase the break down because the right team was not in the break or the riders were not strong enough.  If the make up of the break is good, then you should lay it on the line to make it work.

If your plan was to get into a break, and you are in one, it is really exciting, but again you must think strategically.  I love getting in breaks and my strategy is typically to get into few breaks during a crit. It is your job to get into the right break and help the break make it. 

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Ride Hard,