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Sitting in on the break

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Sitting in on the break

Old 04-17-18, 09:15 PM
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Radish_legs
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Sitting in on the break

As an inexperienced Cat 4, it's been one of my goals to get into a winning break and be there for the finish. Hasn't happened yet. I've finished off the front, but never finished with a formal winning break.

Anyway, in these past 2 seasons I have MADE two winning breaks, and gotten dropped from the breaks both times. In both cases I was just completely gassed. This season, it was in the B crit, and I had two teammates also in the break. Of about 8 guys or so. Windy, I was gassed, they hit after my pull, and I was cracked. Afterward my teammate said that I did too much work in the break. He suggested I should have just sat on, esp since we had numbers in the break.

In both cases (last year and this year), I was yelled at by another rider in the break, to the effect of not working hard enough.

In talking to teammates, they tell me that some local guys are known for never working in the break. THey are sprinters, they want to win the sprint from the break, and they never work in the break.

So getting to my question, when is it okay to just sit in the break (assuming you are the only one on your team in the break)? Is it also okay to be one the guys who is known for never working in the break? Is there any downside to that other than the fact that no one will ever want you in their break, and guys may collaborate to try and drop you from the break, or let the break go backwards...

What are the unwritten rules for sportsmanship here and how should a Cat 4 think about this?
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Old 04-17-18, 09:59 PM
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Is working in the break going to help you or a teammate win the race? If it is, you should work, if it isn't you probably shouldn't unless you're a continental pro in a world tour race and your sponsor wants TV time.
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Old 04-17-18, 11:08 PM
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That's a super complex question I'm not qualified to answer but am inclined to think Cat 4 has no filter so I wouldn't worry about reputation until you upgrade to the 3's.
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Old 04-18-18, 03:41 AM
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It's never "ok" to sit on the break. It's not like there's a rule book for these things, and everyone's best interest is different. The problem is the question is wrong. The real dynamic is one should only work as much as it benefits them, without getting them dropped. Keeping in mind that the them includes their teammates also in the break. Soooo if you have teammates in the break and you're just hanging on and annoying other guys in the break you're likely slowing them down. Depending on the complex algorithm of who is there with what numbers and likely to win, a weak teammate is probably best served burying themselves to give the break the best chance of survival.

If one is alone their sole goal is to survive so sitting on when tied makes sense, Getting dropped certainly doesn't serve them. But the others won't like that, so they'll try and drop you or ride you off. Which can, in cases, cost you more energy than if you worked.

Like FF pointed out, this stuff is complex, and rarely functions well at the cat 4 level. It's about learning the dynamics of your abilities and riding with these immediately formed and quickly changing alliances/rivalries.
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Old 04-18-18, 03:50 AM
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i was in a break last summer and one of the people in the break refused to pull through, so i attacked him out of it. the rest of us stayed away until the end. :kanyeshrug:
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Old 04-18-18, 06:21 AM
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I'm not strong enough to pull well - it'd be hard for me to do more than 300w if I was already struggling, and often that's near impossible for me to sustain for more 10-15 seconds in a race situation - so I'll pull through and pull off, meaning no pull but at least I try not to slow the break.

If I want to stay in the break I have to keep one jump in reserve to get back on after taking a pull so if the break hangs me out to dry we'll go slower and slower until we're going at a hard training pace for me which is 18-21 mph. This has happened when I'm at the front of the field, we've ended up plodding along until riders have to brake to keep from passing me.

At the end of any break I'm rarely able to sprint anyway, and even if I can if I haven't been pulling much I won't sprint very hard. Pretty much no one knows that about me now so if I get into a break the non-sprinter/s will look around, look at me, and sit up. Which is my goal in the first place anyway so that's okay with me. I haven't been dragged to the finish in the last 15? years so not many people left that have seen that I don't sprint 1000% out of breaks if I don't pull.

Thing is that if the "get into breaks but don't pull and don't sprint 1000%" happens regularly (I'm talking over years of racing) then the others will know that you can't pull too hard and that you aren't necessarily a threat in the finish. You can set everyone's expectations. No one will expect you to pull.

It only takes one win to wipe the slate clean so pick your win wisely. And obviously if you get stronger then you can change the scenario so you start pulling but also going for wins.

I've gotten not-wins out of breaks here and there, mainly trying to be the first of the last guys in the break or the last of the first guys:
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I won one race from a break but it was totally a fluke thing:
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Old 04-18-18, 08:44 AM
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My goal is to be a guy who gets in the break, or initiates the break, does work, and wins. That's the goal.

But I want to understand the dynamics of the rules. Winning a lot, but being generally disliked would not be something I would like.
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Old 04-18-18, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs View Post
My goal is to be a guy who gets in the break, or initiates the break, does work, and wins. That's the goal.

But I want to understand the dynamics of the rules. Winning a lot, but being generally disliked would not be something I would like.
If you initiate the break and have a reputation of not working once in the break, then no one is going to go with you if they know you. As others have said there are no rules, each situation is unique, and you have to learn as you go.

You've got to find the balance between not getting dropped, keeping the break rolling enough so it stays away, and then having something left for the finish. Sticking with the break and pulling off a podium is still better than getting dropped or staying the pack and missing the break and finishing outside the money.

Nothing starts attacks out of the break quicker than someone sitting on and not doing work. At least pull through in the rotations even if you don't have the strength to really put in driving pulls. Of course another strategy is to do that even if you have the strength so you've got reserves for the winning move or kick at the finish.
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Old 04-18-18, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by ttusomeone View Post
If you initiate the break and have a reputation of not working once in the break, then no one is going to go with you if they know you. As others have said there are no rules, each situation is unique, and you have to learn as you go.

You've got to find the balance between not getting dropped, keeping the break rolling enough so it stays away, and then having something left for the finish. Sticking with the break and pulling off a podium is still better than getting dropped or staying the pack and missing the break and finishing outside the money.

Nothing starts attacks out of the break quicker than someone sitting on and not doing work. At least pull through in the rotations even if you don't have the strength to really put in driving pulls. Of course another strategy is to do that even if you have the strength so you've got reserves for the winning move or kick at the finish.
is this a metaphor for these threads?
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Old 04-18-18, 10:26 AM
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I love the responses - these guys all know. I generally teach riders that if you're in the actual break then yeah...time to work. If you can't work and stay in the break then you don't need to be there. If you have a teammate in the break and that teammate does the work to allow you to rest then I can justify it in the after the race crying session the other riders will have with the team.

If you jump on a chase to bridge and you have a teammate up the road then sit on and enjoy the ride or interrupt the flow if you can. If everyone is aggro then point up the road and say "teammate".

In short as most said there is some etiquette and beyond that it has to do with the riders themselves. Locally you get to know everyone and what they are good at, etc. If you're just a sprinter that catches good moves but always sits on then your time int he breaks int he future is limited as the break will eventually start sitting up when they see you join in.

Of course this is from a coach/owner point of view sitting on the sidelines for hundreds of races and learning from pros that I sponsor.

In experience I think I have only ever made 1 break. We rolled off the front and had a nice gap. I am ready to work when the other rider looks over and sees that it is me. He sits up and smiles and says, "No offense Curtis but you're not exactly the guy I want in a break with me." #truth
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Old 04-18-18, 10:47 AM
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A real part of racing is this rather weird concept that you cannot win without help from your competitors. Breaks are all about cooperation. If you become known as a constructive addition to the break, you will be welcome. As a hanger-on, you are not. The rider who comes through and slows the group every time he does will not be welcome. HTe rider who rides like a smooth cog in a machine is welcome.

So, if you are at the moment, not so strong, come through, keep your speed up and make your pull very short. Yes, your break mates will notice you haven't done much work, but you also haven't slowed them down and you have given the guy behind a few more seconds of shelter. (Do expect that these break mates will be wary of you joining them in the future if you beat them. You will be marked as a cursed sprinter.)

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Old 04-18-18, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I love the responses - these guys all know. I generally teach riders that if you're in the actual break then yeah...time to work. If you can't work and stay in the break then you don't need to be there. If you have a teammate in the break and that teammate does the work to allow you to rest then I can justify it in the after the race crying session the other riders will have with the team.

If you jump on a chase to bridge and you have a teammate up the road then sit on and enjoy the ride or interrupt the flow if you can. If everyone is aggro then point up the road and say "teammate".

In short as most said there is some etiquette and beyond that it has to do with the riders themselves. Locally you get to know everyone and what they are good at, etc. If you're just a sprinter that catches good moves but always sits on then your time int he breaks int he future is limited as the break will eventually start sitting up when they see you join in.

Of course this is from a coach/owner point of view sitting on the sidelines for hundreds of races and learning from pros that I sponsor.

In experience I think I have only ever made 1 break. We rolled off the front and had a nice gap. I am ready to work when the other rider looks over and sees that it is me. He sits up and smiles and says, "No offense Curtis but you're not exactly the guy I want in a break with me." #truth
I've made very few as well; can only recall 3. In the 4's there's just too much a mix of talent and half the guys can't pull their weight so it peters out. Only successful one I initiated, did most of the work and had no gas at the end.
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Old 04-18-18, 10:53 AM
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This question has mostly been answered, and is a really interesting discussion.

Don't feel bad if you never see a real break until at least the cat 3 level, that was the case for me. Around here, the cat 1 sprinters are almost always in The Break, so you have to learn how to get in and ride a break, even if you are a "sprinter."

Anyway, the only time it's ok to sit on a break is when you want to kill it. If you want it to succeed, take pulls. Length of the pulls depends on how many riders are in said break. If it's just two of you, better be longer pulls. If there's 10 of you, just pull through and pull off.

Whatever you do, don't surge when you pull through! That's super annoying, and guys at all levels do it. Just ****ing roll through at a decent speed.

One more thing: an ex-pro (domestic pro) once told me the worst thing you can do to your team is get dropped from the break, and I think it's true. Getting in the break is great, because your team doesn't need to chase. But if you get int he break, your team lets the gap open, then you get dropped, nobody is happy. If you're on the verge of getting dropped, just sit on. If guys yell at you (and they should), either say nothing, or say you won't sprint at the end - and don't. If you say you won't sprint, don't do it unless you want to be hated forever by everyone.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
This question has mostly been answered, and is a really interesting discussion.

Don't feel bad if you never see a real break until at least the cat 3 level, that was the case for me. Around here, the cat 1 sprinters are almost always in The Break, so you have to learn how to get in and ride a break, even if you are a "sprinter."

Anyway, the only time it's ok to sit on a break is when you want to kill it. If you want it to succeed, take pulls. Length of the pulls depends on how many riders are in said break. If it's just two of you, better be longer pulls. If there's 10 of you, just pull through and pull off.

Whatever you do, don't surge when you pull through! That's super annoying, and guys at all levels do it. Just ****ing roll through at a decent speed.

One more thing: an ex-pro (domestic pro) once told me the worst thing you can do to your team is get dropped from the break, and I think it's true. Getting in the break is great, because your team doesn't need to chase. But if you get int he break, your team lets the gap open, then you get dropped, nobody is happy. If you're on the verge of getting dropped, just sit on. If guys yell at you (and they should), either say nothing, or say you won't sprint at the end - and don't. If you say you won't sprint, don't do it unless you want to be hated forever by everyone.
This is something I don't quite understand. Granted I'm a lowly 3 with less than a year of experience, but why can't I sprint unless I burn up matches pulling? For example, my current fitness level means I can generally hold a wheel but I'm not gonna ride anyone off mine, and I came from a mid distance running career in college so my 1-2 minute power is my strongest asset. If I can sit in and hold on, I can compete decently well on the last lap of a crit...but if I do too much work before then I'll blow up and be off the back before the real racing starts. We're all trying to win, and I guess I don't understand why people get their feelings hurt by someone else doing whats best for their chances of winning.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by hammer down View Post
This is something I don't quite understand. Granted I'm a lowly 3 with less than a year of experience, but why can't I sprint unless I burn up matches pulling? For example, my current fitness level means I can generally hold a wheel but I'm not gonna ride anyone off mine, and I came from a mid distance running career in college so my 1-2 minute power is my strongest asset. If I can sit in and hold on, I can compete decently well on the last lap of a crit...but if I do too much work before then I'll blow up and be off the back before the real racing starts. We're all trying to win, and I guess I don't understand why people get their feelings hurt by someone else doing whats best for their chances of winning.
He's only saying don't sprint if you specifically tell your break mates that you won't sprint them. Otherwise if they let you sit on and don't make you work / drop you then it's their fault if you beat them at the end. Chances are though in the upper categories you aren't getting a free ride unless you say you aren't going to sprint.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by hammer down View Post
This is something I don't quite understand. Granted I'm a lowly 3 with less than a year of experience, but why can't I sprint unless I burn up matches pulling? For example, my current fitness level means I can generally hold a wheel but I'm not gonna ride anyone off mine, and I came from a mid distance running career in college so my 1-2 minute power is my strongest asset. If I can sit in and hold on, I can compete decently well on the last lap of a crit...but if I do too much work before then I'll blow up and be off the back before the real racing starts. We're all trying to win, and I guess I don't understand why people get their feelings hurt by someone else doing whats best for their chances of winning.
It's one thing to sit in on the field and sprint out of that without doing work. It's considered poor form to do it out of a break.

The group is working to get away. If you aren't contributing, the idea is that you don't deserve the benefit of a better placing by being out front.

You can certainly do it. It's not against any written rules. But, if you get known for being the guy who sits on then sprints for the win, people won't like you and will actively start doing things to sabotage you.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
One more thing: an ex-pro (domestic pro) once told me the worst thing you can do to your team is get dropped from the break, and I think it's true. Getting in the break is great, because your team doesn't need to chase. But if you get int he break, your team lets the gap open, then you get dropped, nobody is happy.
^^^ that.
For this reason I'm less likely to work in breaks if I have strong teammates behind such as Matt, Fudgy, or the guy who got 5th in Matt's race report. Even if I'm not gonna get dropped, it isn't fair to roll in last of a break and call it a success cuz I wasn't dropped. So I won't work hard. If it kills the break, fine. Fewer fresh opponents for the rest of the team to handle.
I'm not often in breaks anymore cuz I know I won't last long. I'll go if it's late, like 5-15 minutes from the finish, but often the real break is gone by then.

Originally Posted by mattm View Post
If you're on the verge of getting dropped, just sit on. If guys yell at you (and they should), either say nothing, or say you won't sprint at the end - and don't. If you say you won't sprint, don't do it unless you want to be hated forever by everyone.
I don't think it's fair to the team to not sprint if there are faster teammates behind. If you have teammates you have an obligation to go for the win or help one of them do it. I guess if none of the team has a real good shot it may be ok to roll in 4th in the break. Also, unless everyone is cat 1, there are upgrade points so maybe worth it. But not usually. Last of the break in a crit often doesn't get upgrade points anyway.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:21 AM
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OP, your teammate says you are doing too much work - did he specify what that meant? Are you surging on the front? Are you on the front too long?
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Old 04-18-18, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
It's one thing to sit in on the field and sprint out of that without doing work. It's considered poor form to do it out of a break.

The group is working to get away. If you aren't contributing, the idea is that you don't deserve the benefit of a better placing by being out front.

You can certainly do it. It's not against any written rules. But, if you get known for being the guy who sits on then sprints for the win, people won't like you and will actively start doing things to sabotage you.
This is the attitude that seems a little silly to me. Its a race, the point is to win. You 'deserve' whatever you get. If I take a free ride that seems like its a problem for the people giving the ride, not me. I don't find myself in this position in races as I don't actively try to get in breaks, but I don't get the attitude about the situation.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by hammer down View Post
This is something I don't quite understand. Granted I'm a lowly 3 with less than a year of experience, but why can't I sprint unless I burn up matches pulling? For example, my current fitness level means I can generally hold a wheel but I'm not gonna ride anyone off mine, and I came from a mid distance running career in college so my 1-2 minute power is my strongest asset. If I can sit in and hold on, I can compete decently well on the last lap of a crit...but if I do too much work before then I'll blow up and be off the back before the real racing starts. We're all trying to win, and I guess I don't understand why people get their feelings hurt by someone else doing whats best for their chances of winning.
To clarify, sitting on and sprinting is "fine" - just never ever promise you won't sprint then sprint. Unless you want enemies for life.

I'm not saying any of this is right or wrong - there are no written rules around breakaways. (besides a team mate not dropping back to help you lap the field)

Just don't be surprised if guys get pissed at you for sitting on. If they're stupid enough to let you sit on and then sprint, then that's really on them. They'll be pissed but whatever.

But if you have the power to sit on, you probably have the power to at least take token pulls.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
To clarify, sitting on and sprinting is "fine" - just never ever promise you won't sprint then sprint. Unless you want enemies for life.
This makes sense. I misunderstood and thought you were hinting that if you sit on, you shouldn't sprint.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
To clarify, sitting on and sprinting is "fine" - just never ever promise you won't sprint then sprint. Unless you want enemies for life.
^ - this has led to some parking lot fireworks. It's fun to watch grown men tell each other off while standing around half naked after chasing each other in lycra for an hour. It's part of why "normal" people hate us in my opinion.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by hammer down View Post
This makes sense. I misunderstood and thought you were hinting that if you sit on, you shouldn't sprint.
There's a guy in the B race who apparently already has this reputation. So the goal would be to not have him in the breakaway or drop him from the break. But not just let him sit on. And no it's not one of your teammates.
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Old 04-18-18, 11:55 AM
  #24  
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My teammate said I went too fast for too long on the front of the break:

Start of break:

Dropped from break:
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Old 04-18-18, 04:32 PM
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Work in the break. Even it's just through and off. Even if you have to skip a few pulls. You'll make it harder for yourself and the break by just sitting on the whole time, as inevitably other people will then stop working and others will begin attacking. The longer everyone pulls through smoothly, the longer the break will likely work together. You don't have to take "equal pulls". Always pull off before you think you "need" to (if you're not already dying), just in case there's a surge/attack right afterwards.
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