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Why do riders make attacks they have no intention of following through on?

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Why do riders make attacks they have no intention of following through on?

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Old 05-23-18, 02:54 PM
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JimShep
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Why do riders make attacks they have no intention of following through on?

I am new to crits but as I understand basic strategy splitting the field is a good thing (if youíre in the front half) because you have that many less guys you're up against in the final laps. Likewise if you get in a two or three person break you are guaranteed a podium spot and only have a one or two people to beat and not the entire field.

I recently did a cat 5 crit with a small field (8 riders, no teams) The other guys acted in ways that seemed strange. Guys would push the pace and split the field, then ease off and let it come back together. Several guys made attacks that I followed thinking we could form a two person break, but when I took my turn at the front they would drop off and fall back to the pack. Several guys would get off the front and ride solo for a lap or two then let the pack catch them.

Halfway through one guy made one of the few breaks I didnít follow and when I finally realized that he was going to make the solo break stick he was too far ahead for me to bridge up to by myself. Again there where more attacks that I thought would turn into bridge attempts but the guys repeated the process of easing off and dropping back to the pack.

Was there something going on that Iím missing? My only thought is the guys where treating it as a training day since itís only cat 5 but everyone seemed very interested in getting a podium spot in the last few laps.
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Old 05-23-18, 04:16 PM
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My guess is that most of those guys just couldnít hold the effort. They tried and failed. The surges were too much, so their break attempts didnít pan out.

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Old 05-23-18, 04:26 PM
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So, one guy did have a successful solo breakaway?

A couple of false attempts may well have masked his one real breakaway, as the other riders just expected him to fall back, rather than taking off.

Might as well also get the chasers tired.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
So, one guy did have a successful solo breakaway?

A couple of false attempts may well have masked his one real breakaway, as the other riders just expected him to fall back, rather than taking off.

Might as well also get the chasers tired.
Several different riders made attempts that went nowhere (captain America, blue socks guy, tall dude). He may have too, he did not have distinctive kit on so I didnít noticed. If this is your strategy plain kit is a big plus. Having several other riders make attacks that go nowhere is a bonus for disguising your real breakaway but I donít think itís something you could count on.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:13 PM
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topflight is right - the attacks failed b/c they weren't strong enough to hold it, which will be the case most of the time.

If you have a team with strong presence rotating attacks can be a great way to wear out the competition - send guys off successively and make other people chase, all the while saving your real protected rider to launch later or wait for the sprint.

I'm often tasked with going on seemingly "pointless" attacks. At my level (cat 3) I'm just not strong enough to hold 27+ mph for a whole crit solo, sorry, not happening. I can do it for a few laps however, and people back in the field are going to have to work to chase me down, fatiguing themselves slightly in the process.
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Old 05-23-18, 08:50 PM
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I think alot of people (at times myself included) just don't understand what it takes to successfully break away. We see it look so easy on TV and unless you are vastly stronger (or the field doesn't care) its a hard thing to do. So guys go off and burn out real quick, or lose enough gas they know its not sustainable.
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Old 05-24-18, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
If you have a team with strong presence rotating attacks can be a great way to wear out the competition - send guys off successively and make other people chase, all the while saving your real protected rider to launch later or wait for the sprint.
Probably works unless the team leader is wearing a bright yellow jersey, in which case, just watch what the yellow jersey is doing.
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Old 05-24-18, 10:52 AM
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The other reason it doesn't stick is because everyone at the Cat 5 level is willing to chase the break.

I was looking at video last night to see why my breakaway attempt recently didn't work. Bemused to see my teammates on front chasing about half the time.
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Old 05-24-18, 12:14 PM
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I like to race from a break, and have the power profile to do that much better than I can wait for a sprint. So - I'll end up making a bunch of jumps in any given race, and I'll fold on most all of them.

reasons I'll jump otf of a pack
  • get a feel of my legs that day
  • see who is interested in chasing me/who is set to mark me
  • get a feel of the wind clear of the field
  • jump and pretend to get caught at full effort to lower the guard of the dudes marking me, discourage chasers who expended effort to catch me for no personal benefit now that the field is together
  • jump and try to stay clear long enough/get enough lead that the chase breaks the field into an actual small break or selection by the time I'm caught
  • jump and make other dudes pull my teammates around, keeping teammates fresh(er) than the opposition
  • jump and occasionally stick the solo move (1/1000000 is a non-zero chance and you can't win if you don't try)
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Old 05-24-18, 12:21 PM
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Generally speaking the guys who can stick a solo break from the gun are guys whose fitness is at a superior level for the category they are racing in. Cat 2 legs in a Cat 4 crit.
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Old 05-24-18, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by JimShep View Post
cat 5 crit
There's your answer.
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Old 05-24-18, 02:28 PM
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Photographer was nearby
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Old 05-24-18, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Enthalpic View Post
Photographer was nearby
LOL - I frequently jump out front on the first lap so I'll look good in the race pics.
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Old 05-24-18, 03:06 PM
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what's annoying is that there are photographers everywhere, but I never see a single photograph. One time I do, I offer to buy photo, never hear back.
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Old 05-24-18, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
So, one guy did have a successful solo breakaway?

A couple of false attempts may well have masked his one real breakaway, as the other riders just expected him to fall back, rather than taking off.

Might as well also get the chasers tired.
This might be true in a Pro-1-2 race or even a Cat 3 race or a Masters race as that is a common stratagem, but not in a Cat 5 crit. That race is just full of dumb racers chasing everything down.

At higher levels if you are clever and lucky you can time the false breakaways and take off just before the real one.
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Old 05-24-18, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
LOL - I frequently jump out front on the first lap so I'll look good in the race pics.
Truth.
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Old 05-27-18, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by JimShep View Post
I am new to crits but as I understand basic strategy splitting the field is a good thing (if youíre in the front half) because you have that many less guys you're up against in the final laps. Likewise if you get in a two or three person break you are guaranteed a podium spot and only have a one or two people to beat and not the entire field.

I recently did a cat 5 crit with a small field (8 riders, no teams) The other guys acted in ways that seemed strange. Guys would push the pace and split the field, then ease off and let it come back together. Several guys made attacks that I followed thinking we could form a two person break, but when I took my turn at the front they would drop off and fall back to the pack. Several guys would get off the front and ride solo for a lap or two then let the pack catch them.

Halfway through one guy made one of the few breaks I didnít follow and when I finally realized that he was going to make the solo break stick he was too far ahead for me to bridge up to by myself. Again there where more attacks that I thought would turn into bridge attempts but the guys repeated the process of easing off and dropping back to the pack.

Was there something going on that Iím missing? My only thought is the guys where treating it as a training day since itís only cat 5 but everyone seemed very interested in getting a podium spot in the last few laps.
In an 8 rider field there's very little room for a mistake, and it's much more mano-a-mano versus, say, a 40 rider field.

Short answer is that most riders can't actually break away. It's fun to attack, sure, but to actually sustain an effort is very tough and requires fitness and some talent.

Weak looking attacks, or attacks when everyone is sort of gassed, those are the deceivingly dangerous ones. I had a very strong teammate that would follow a flurry of attacks and when everyone was scattered across the road self imploding he'd noodle off the front, sitting, shoulders bobbing furiously, trying to look like a pathetic attacker. He'd round a corner and then drill it. He could pull off a win here and there, although usually he'd get chased down and then lead me out for the sprint.

If you miss out on a break, then the next step is to follow bridge/chase/attack moves, let them gas themselves, and then try and go yourself across the remaining gap. If you can't do that then realistically you may not have been able to do the break anyway.

I tell riders to try and bridge before the gap goes beyond 10 seconds. In a lower category race (Cat 3-5), it's usually possible for a fit rider to bridge a 10 second gap. At 15 seconds it gets very hard. In your case if the gap had gotten to 10 seconds you'd have had to go or risk losing the break permanently.
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Old 05-28-18, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
In an 8 rider field there's very little room for a mistake, and it's much more mano-a-mano versus, say, a 40 rider field.

Short answer is that most riders can't actually break away. It's fun to attack, sure, but to actually sustain an effort is very tough and requires fitness and some talent.

Weak looking attacks, or attacks when everyone is sort of gassed, those are the deceivingly dangerous ones. I had a very strong teammate that would follow a flurry of attacks and when everyone was scattered across the road self imploding he'd noodle off the front, sitting, shoulders bobbing furiously, trying to look like a pathetic attacker. He'd round a corner and then drill it. He could pull off a win here and there, although usually he'd get chased down and then lead me out for the sprint.

If you miss out on a break, then the next step is to follow bridge/chase/attack moves, let them gas themselves, and then try and go yourself across the remaining gap. If you can't do that then realistically you may not have been able to do the break anyway.

I tell riders to try and bridge before the gap goes beyond 10 seconds. In a lower category race (Cat 3-5), it's usually possible for a fit rider to bridge a 10 second gap. At 15 seconds it gets very hard. In your case if the gap had gotten to 10 seconds you'd have had to go or risk losing the break permanently.
If my math is right 10 seconds is about 400 feet. Assuming you're chasing your twin you would have to put out about 30-40 more watts than him to go one mph faster and take 4-5 minutes to close the gap. If your both equally strong and he's riding at threshold you are well into Vo2 territory and 5 minutes is getting close to the limit. In other words, I think you're spot on...

Looking at the winners Strava I think if I used one of the failed attacks as a leadout I would have probably been able to bridge the rest solo. It also looks like one of the early 'failed' attacks was just a fake out by him, or one I followed and he wanted to be solo.I hesitated to bridge for a couple reasons
-- I had already wasted a bunch of energy chasing attacks that went nowhere and bridged up to a different guy up front who had no interest in staying there.
-- I think my strong suit is my sprint and a pack finish would give me my best chance for a win.
-- I keep hearing how cat 5s chase every break down, turns out this group didn't want to.

So is the normal strategy to let early attacks go and bridge up to them if it looks like they are going to stick? Or do you develop a sense for which attacks are going nowhere?

Thanks for all the answers, overall it was a fun race and I feel like I learned a lot.
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Old 05-29-18, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by JimShep View Post
If my math is right 10 seconds is about 400 feet. Assuming you're chasing your twin you would have to put out about 30-40 more watts than him to go one mph faster and take 4-5 minutes to close the gap. If your both equally strong and he's riding at threshold you are well into Vo2 territory and 5 minutes is getting close to the limit. In other words, I think you're spot on...

Looking at the winners Strava I think if I used one of the failed attacks as a leadout I would have probably been able to bridge the rest solo. It also looks like one of the early 'failed' attacks was just a fake out by him, or one I followed and he wanted to be solo.I hesitated to bridge for a couple reasons
-- I had already wasted a bunch of energy chasing attacks that went nowhere and bridged up to a different guy up front who had no interest in staying there.
-- I think my strong suit is my sprint and a pack finish would give me my best chance for a win.
-- I keep hearing how cat 5s chase every break down, turns out this group didn't want to.

So is the normal strategy to let early attacks go and bridge up to them if it looks like they are going to stick? Or do you develop a sense for which attacks are going nowhere?

Thanks for all the answers, overall it was a fun race and I feel like I learned a lot.
I think your math is good.

Remember that you can go deep also. Sean Kelly blazed across some gap at Paris Roubaix before eventually winning it. When asked about it he said it's much better to do a 1 km effort than a 5 km effort. I'm no pro but when I've done some P123 races I'm absolutely astounded at how hard the riders go when trying to bridge. For me it's a 100% effort to stay on wheels and I quickly learned that those efforts would explode me right out of the race.

If I were chasing my twin I'd do a less massive effort, maybe 300-400w higher, say going 8 mph faster, and bridge the gap in 30 seconds or less. Of course that's me because I can't sustain any kind of meaningful effort (VO2 max interval is 215-240w so that's not closing any gaps). I've never really bridged a big gap for myself, only to bring a teammate up (or chase for a teammate), so if I even make it to the break I am so redlined I typically can't contribute.

The key to chasing is to do it when it benefits you most, like going into a tailwind/crosswind (others can't follow as easily) or on a short hill (speed differentials are exaggerated due to lower speeds). Leverage the fact that the break rider is struggling a bit, won't have the same top speed as you, and use the fact that you're relatively rested and ready to go.

In the below race I try to launch my teammate up to the break. The gap is maybe 23-25 seconds when I go, I get my teammate to about 14-15 seconds down from the break, and he can't bridge by literally just 10-15 meters, maybe 1-2 seconds. I didn't realize the kind of gap we got (I was soft pedaling for a bit before they came up to me), nor how quickly I could recover (pretty much 100% when the field rolled up to me). If I'd pushed just another turn or two I think my teammate would have made it to the break.

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Old 05-29-18, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
I think your math is good.

Remember that you can go deep also. Sean Kelly blazed across some gap at Paris Roubaix before eventually winning it. When asked about it he said it's much better to do a 1 km effort than a 5 km effort. I'm no pro but when I've done some P123 races I'm absolutely astounded at how hard the riders go when trying to bridge. For me it's a 100% effort to stay on wheels and I quickly learned that those efforts would explode me right out of the race.

If I were chasing my twin I'd do a less massive effort, maybe 300-400w higher, say going 8 mph faster, and bridge the gap in 30 seconds or less. Of course that's me because I can't sustain any kind of meaningful effort (VO2 max interval is 215-240w so that's not closing any gaps). I've never really bridged a big gap for myself, only to bring a teammate up (or chase for a teammate), so if I even make it to the break I am so redlined I typically can't contribute.

The key to chasing is to do it when it benefits you most, like going into a tailwind/crosswind (others can't follow as easily) or on a short hill (speed differentials are exaggerated due to lower speeds). Leverage the fact that the break rider is struggling a bit, won't have the same top speed as you, and use the fact that you're relatively rested and ready to go.

In the below race I try to launch my teammate up to the break. The gap is maybe 23-25 seconds when I go, I get my teammate to about 14-15 seconds down from the break, and he can't bridge by literally just 10-15 meters, maybe 1-2 seconds. I didn't realize the kind of gap we got (I was soft pedaling for a bit before they came up to me), nor how quickly I could recover (pretty much 100% when the field rolled up to me). If I'd pushed just another turn or two I think my teammate would have made it to the break.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxtdxGeB_Cw&t=500s
little off topic but I noticed one dude in that video had a tt disc wheel, are those aloud in crits?
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Old 05-29-18, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikeracer123 View Post


little off topic but I noticed one dude in that video had a tt disc wheel, are those aloud in crits?
Short answer, yes.

In the old days all aero wheel stuff had to be structural, meaning no covers. The first disk wheels had no spokes for that reason. But at some point they started allowing covers. Many alum braking surface wheels are covered wheels, like the HED Jets (normal alum rim wheel, carbon fairing/cover). With covers allowed that one rider started using a covered wheel. His wheel is extremely light, a normal wheel with a mylar type cover on it. I'd hazard a guess that it's as light as any wheel out there. It's also inexpensive, and relatively easy to replace/repair.
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Old 05-29-18, 08:17 PM
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Last I checked.. Disc wheels are still legal in crits.

and re: bridging efforts. It takes experience to know when you jump hard to get across or when you just TT it back. You have to know your body, but you also have to look at what the guys up the road are doing. Sometimes you need to get there yesterday (is it about to get rowdy and aggressive?). Sometimes it's okay to take your time(are they just riding a pace line and you want to slot in at the back when you get there?).
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Old 05-30-18, 07:24 PM
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yeah, lots of guys bridging to breaks at 34-35mph.

such bull**** all the time.
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Old 05-30-18, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by JimShep View Post
Looking at the winners Strava I think if I used one of the failed attacks as a leadout I would have probably been able to bridge the rest solo.
I don't think this is a useful analysis. On paper you could do a lot of things. At the race it's much harder. For one thing you're not chasing your twin necessarily.

Anyway I'm not that great at math, but a pretty decent bike racer. I suck at TTs, but I can bridge to breaks if they are close enough. For me there is no math involved, no calculation, it's jump as hard as you possibly can to get a gap from the field, then go as fast as you can to bridge to the break.
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