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Tactics 101(21 posts)

Tactics 101allervite
Mar 4, 2003 9:48 AM
You are racing for a team in a rolling hill road race. You are assigned to cover the early breaks. Half way through the race you cover a break of 6 riders. You look around and notice you are surrounded by the other teams' sprinters. Your sprint is OK but not exceptional. The break is clearly going up the road. You look back and there at the front of the peleton is your team's sprinter. You are 200 meters from the peleton and the distance is increasing. You have no race radio. What are your plans?
gut instinctDougSloan
Mar 4, 2003 10:12 AM
My gut instinct is fall back and tow up your sprinter, if you think you can and no one else can do it.

Very unselfish (nm)allervite
Mar 4, 2003 2:29 PM
Go to the front and lay your bike down.brider
Mar 4, 2003 11:40 AM
Just kidding!

If you try to keep the break going, you're screwed. If you come back, you're screwed. Stay in and try to disrupt it, and let the other teams (or your other team mates) chase it down. No team should let a GROUP of any one team go up the road. Even if the gap is increasing, there should be a significant reaction from the other teams in short order. If not, then there's nothing you can do.
Mar 4, 2003 2:34 PM
That was a brideresque answer if there ever was one!

Yea, basicly you are screwed, but that's what makes it interesting. Also, you are not with a team of sprinters, but a group of sprinters from other teams. A sprinter from each team, in other words.
Okay, that makes it a different scenariobrider
Mar 5, 2003 9:53 AM
Yup, sprinters from different teams makes a HUGE difference (slapping my forehead). Now to the question: Who's gonna lead them out? In my experience, sprinters are basically lost without their lead-out man (or men in many cases). If you're a good TTer, you might be able to burn them out, but you'll also burn yourself out. Shouldn't be any huge deal to disrupt the rhythm of a group of un-unified sprinters. They'd be probably pretty busy trying to disrupt themselves. Also, any team is gonna know that they'll need to send up AT LEAST one more rider to get their sprinter to win. I'd think this is an ill-fated break, and you being there is just doing your job. Wait, it'll come back.
I somewhat agree.allervite
Mar 5, 2003 3:32 PM
I think a break full of sprinters is actually a pretty good break if the race is not too demanding. I think they will work well with each other as long as they are far enough from the line. Sprinters, for the most part always think they are the fastest guy there and are going to win so they aren't always afraid to work. A lead out man helps, but even the pros rarely nail the leadout perfectly. There's usually a lot of opportunity in a bunch sprint even when you don't have a lead out. Take for example Eric Zabel or Robbie McCewen. They have won many sprints without a leadout man.

Anyhow, back to the subject. I think your opportunity comes with the fact that there are no lead out men. Even if you are not a great time trialist, there is a fair chance that the sprinters will look at each other when you go up the road with five or so K's to go. They may try to out wait each other just like Musseuw, Van Petegem, and Hincapie did when Tafi went up the road in last years Tour of Flanders. They may chase you once or twice, but if you keep attacking them there's a good chance they are going to get frustrated over who should chase.

What do you think?
Wait. The sprinters won't survive the break. nmSpunout
Mar 5, 2003 5:09 AM
If the major teams are all represented in the break,allervite
Mar 5, 2003 3:36 PM
Who is going to chase?
Good point53T
Mar 5, 2003 4:56 PM
The NYC pro crit last year had just the same situation, one man from every team in the break, and they had a good lead on the bunch. (Trivia: who brough the break back that time?)

In your situation, your team has the responsibilty to bring the break back, since your sprinter didn't make it. You have the responsibility to disrupt the break. Accelerate untill you are in front of the #1 threat, then let a gap open in front of you. #1 threat will accelerate around you to close the gap, you stick on his wheel. After three rounds of this he will be toast, move on to the #2 threat. Of course you will be toast soon as well, but your job was to bring the break back from the tete al a la course.
Consider more positive tacticsRIAN
Mar 6, 2003 3:15 AM
1 Your job is to cover the break, so you have to stay with it and not drop back. The whole idea of covering a break is for the team to get the best possible placing if the break stays away.

2 The rest of your team have the big decision - do they accept that having a man in a break which looks like staying away is a better option than bringing it back. That bit is out of your hands. You need to keep looking back to see what they have decided. If they are not at the front of the chase, and gaining, you must assume that they are happy to let you go. If they are chasing, just sit on the back and wait.

3 If you see that they are not chasing, and given that you are unlikely to show in the sprint, your best tactics will be either to reduce the numbers or get away on your own. Take your spells, but only push it really hard over the hills, so that anyone who is struggling gets dropped. In the middle stages, basically your job is to reduce the numbers without hurting youself too much. You will not be alone in having this objective, so start to look for allies.

4 The best place to try to get away is on a longish hill, with about 10k to go. You have to give it your best shot. However even if you don't completely succeed, and one or two come back up to you, you need to keep the pace up. Remember that anyone else who catches you will probably place ahead of you. It can be worth explaining to anyone who has stayed with you that working together will guarantee better placings all round.

5 Apart from the team aspects, you have to think of your own reputation. Its best to become known as someone who is logical, hard, but fair and doesn't use disruptive tactics unnecessarily. That way you will find that you will be involved in the breaks which want to succeed.
Mar 6, 2003 9:35 AM
Pretty obvious that you've been there before!
Might work.allervite
Mar 6, 2003 9:18 AM
This blatant of a disruption could get you knocked off your bike. Especially by a big egoed sprinter. I have been shoved around for a lot less.

I think if I was on a team that decided to employ this tactic, I would opt for the slow roll through. Try to make it look like I'm trying and fake some serious suffering with a lot of negative suggestions: "Come on they are catching us!"

The main problem here is you have no race radios. You have no idea what's going on behind you. The only way this strategy works is if your team agrees at the beginning of the race that they are going to chase every group that does not contain their best rider: A daunting task!
Might work.53T
Mar 6, 2003 12:42 PM
If some big egoed sprinter thinks he can knock my teamate off his bike and survive to race again, he is sadly mistaken. Not that I would resort to violence, although I am a big-egoed sprinter myself, I would let the authorities handle that situation.

Letting a gap form is not so rare or so unacceptable. Some others have said to think about your reputation. This is bunk. I race for fun and to win, and winning is fun. Nobody is placed in harms way by me letting a gap open. Maybe they won't want to be a break with me again, so what? Maybe they won't want to reace with me again, they can skip those races.
All your statments are true, but . . .allervite
Mar 7, 2003 2:00 PM
If you try to blatantly flick riders off the back (yes, you have a right to do this). There is a good chance that these riders are not going to let you back in the rotation. I'm not saying they would intentionaly crash you, but they may intentionaly push you out of line. They are very likely to not let you back in line. I would tell you to stay on the back if you are not going to work, and expect to be boxed in when the sprint begins. No I don't hate you. I'm just telling you how it might go down if you blatantly tried to disrupt my break.

"All I'm asking for is a roll through. You don't wanna contribute that's fine, but we're not going to allow you to disrupt the rhythm!"

Could I carry out this threat. Maybe, maybe not; but I would not just lay down and let you ruin the break, just as you would not try and help it succeed.

If they start talking to one another in the break about your tactics, and I would start taliking if I was there, it's gonna be you against 5 or 6 other riders. And nobody is going to put any stock in the "sorry guys, I'm working for my team so let me screw you up. OK?"
Tivia = Armstrong? nmallervite
Mar 6, 2003 10:19 AM
Good point- trivianoveread
Mar 6, 2003 11:16 AM
I thought it was the Saturn team that nailed it back so quick...

Mar 6, 2003 12:44 PM
From where I was standing (the North end of the course) it was Armstrong pulling the pack. Tony Cruz was in the break and won some primes, but I guess he was cooked.
re: Tactics 101russw19
Mar 6, 2003 11:49 AM
I am the sprinter, so I say sit in the back and wait for someone to get twitchy and make a move...
However, I am assuming you are covering the breaks because you are not the sprinter. The only part of the scenario that would matter to me at this point, you leave out. How far is the finish?
If you are a good solid rider and can climb and the finish is 3 miles away, I would attack at the hill and try to solo to the line. The sprinters will all sit on and line up for the field sprint if they are really sprinters. Without leadout men and domestiques to pull them, they are probably just as lost in this scenario as you are. So do the long solo to the line.
The problem is you are actually attacking your sprinter too, but if you win, your team won't care. If you just pull your rivals away from your own sprinter, you may just have a job as a leadout guy on one of the teams you just helped, but you probably won't have one with your own team still.
But in your defence, if you have a DS and they don't give you specific instructions, then you are on your own.. so break away!

I like thatallervite
Mar 7, 2003 2:28 PM
but I did tell you that you were half way through the race (i.e. a long way from the finish)
Sorry, must have missed that part...russw19
Mar 7, 2003 11:11 PM
Missed that fact... so if middle of the finish, sit at the back, don't pull thru. But let everyone know you are sitting on. If they try to drop you, cool, but they are sprinters, they will most likely get caught unless their team mates in the pack do some world class blocking.

Anyways, I never quite got if this actually happened, or was it all conjecture? Cuz if it happened, I would be interested in what you did, and what was the outcome?