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Do pros ever take breaks on big climbs?

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Do pros ever take breaks on big climbs?

Old 06-07-21, 10:55 AM
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tsmith41094
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Do pros ever take breaks on big climbs?

Was listening to Chris Horner's YouTube channel earlier (excellent pro race analysis for those that haven't seen it) and he mentioned stopping off at picnic area for a "Coke and a couple Snickers" a couple kms into a climb after his turn was done for the team lead.

Anyone know if pros ever take breaks on big climbs (especially the big guys in the back)? Often wondered what goes on in the grupetto on big climbing days once all the cars and cameras move on.
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Old 06-07-21, 11:24 AM
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I've never heard of guys stopping, but I was always in the car and wouldn't have seen it. Generally they will get handed stuff from the car as they filter back though the caravan. If it's the final climb of the day guys will almost universally take a Coke and a snack.
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Old 06-07-21, 11:43 AM
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Training I'd assume so. If you hit the KJ's and time in zones, it isn't a race.

A race? No stopping. Rolling neutral lunch with no attacking sure. But everyone can sympathize with Sagan in that one video of him getting the sticky bottle up that ramp as the cars pull away.
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Old 06-07-21, 11:50 AM
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I have seen video of some of the guys that are only racing to make the time cut, and they look pretty relaxed on climbs. Not sure if they stop or not, doesn't seem like it really makes sense. It's not super easy to make the time cut.
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Old 06-07-21, 11:55 AM
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The pros who are in the gruppetto/laughing group always have to ride hard enough to make the time limit on every stage in a multi-day race, so even if they were tempted to get off the bike, they wouldn't. Plus---they're far more likely to make it to the end of the stage inside the time limit by riding in the gruppetto than if they stopped and then rode the final kilometers alone.

By the way, Chris Horner didn't say that he stopped at a picnic area---he said that, after riding at his limit for Cadel Evans on that infamous Tour stage where Floyd Landis did his (literally) incredible ride (recouping almost all of the time that he'd lost in the previous stage), Chris pulled off the road and had a private picnic with his Snickers and Coke from the team car before getting back on the road and finishing the stage (still well ahead of the gruppetto, no doubt).

[Edit: I see that Horner mentioned in today's Butterfly Effect video that it was indeed a picnic area where he stopped to enjoy his Snickers and Coke. Sorry! I believe he didn't mention that detail in his full-length video about that stage, which he uploaded to YouTube sometime last year. Great, great video, if you haven's seen it.]


Last edited by Trakhak; 06-07-21 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 06-07-21, 11:58 AM
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In a stage race, everyone needs to finish inside the time limit to start the next day. So, if you were hired to be the diesel on the flat stages, you have to finish the mountain stages within (say) 20 minutes of the winner. (The time limit is usually a percentage of the winner's time though I believe the race promoters have some say as to how that plays out. And there have been a few famous incidents where the time limit got pushed back because most of the field didn't make it.)

Sometimes making that time limit is hard. I watched film footage of the gruppetto working their tails off to make the cut. The stronger riders were making it a team time trial of desperation. Nobody was having fun. They made it but they went through a private h*** that no fans saw.

Last edited by 79pmooney; 06-07-21 at 12:01 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-07-21, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
In a stage race, everyone needs to finish inside the time limit to start the next day. So, if you were hired to be the diesel on the flat stages, you have to finish the mountain stages within (say) 20 minutes of the winner. (The time limit is usually a percentage of the winner's time though I believe the race promoters have some say as to how that plays out. And there have been a few famous incidents where the time limit got pushed back because most of the field didn't make it.)

Sometimes making that time limit is hard. I watched film footage of the gruppetto working their tails off to make the cut. The stronger riders were making it a team time trial of desperation. Nobody was having fun. They made it but they went through a private h*** that no fans saw.
Bernal, 132 lb. Ganna, 181 lb. (disclaimer, #'s from Wiki).

Bit of difference in the climbs trying to make that work!
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Old 06-07-21, 12:32 PM
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It's not as if Horner tossed down a blanket in the shade and had a little rest... he stood on the side of the road likely about to pass out, guzzled a coke, smashed some food in his mouth, then got back on his bike and kept riding.

As far as the grupetto, I think back in the day officials gave them a little more leeway on the time cut. So, if a huge group finished way back but stayed all together they wouldn't kick them out of the race as long as they were "still trying", which resulted in a lot more shenanigans and relaxed riding at the back. Those days seem mostly over, as we've seen some big name sprinters sent home from grand tours after just barely missing time cuts. For the most part now it seems like those guys are working hard to keep the time gap in check and don't really mess around much.
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Old 06-07-21, 12:44 PM
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I've heard more than a few stories of pros' hardest days in the saddle being part of the grupetto struggling to make the time cut, with some even being reduced to tears.

The only story I know of going off-course is Matt White's hilarious Giro story, back before cameras were everywhere.
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Old 06-07-21, 12:52 PM
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I remember watching TV pro race, likely TDF but maybe in one of those one day classics, there was this rider fell behind the leading group up some steep hill and he was totally done in, not even capable of going sideways left and right, and he almost fell off the bike rather than get off it. What happened with him I don't know, like if he made the time limit or was picked up. But that is not 'taking a break'.

Also seen several riders who were doing that sideways climb in a pro race.

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Old 06-07-21, 10:21 PM
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Chris Horner is a hoot. Usually he was so strong on climbs he could probably afford to bury himself on behalf of the team leader, stop for a few minutes to guzzle and gnaw some sugar, climb back on the bike and still make the cut. Heck, if they've done enough intervals in training, they've conditioned their bodies for this abuse.

If you watch movies of ye olden dayes of the grand tour, it wasn't unusual for the domestiques to stop and raid cafes along the route to stuff as much as they could carry, hustle back to the front to replenish the team leaders, then drop back exhausted and soft pedal just in time to make the cut and do it all again the next day. But that was before restrictions on feed zones, etc.
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Old 06-07-21, 10:31 PM
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So many great responses. Wasn't aware at all how difficult the time cuts could be. Makes me feel even more for the big guys. Always learn something on BF.
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Old 06-07-21, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
The pros who are in the gruppetto/laughing group always have to ride hard enough to make the time limit on every stage in a multi-day race, so even if they were tempted to get off the bike, they wouldn't. Plus---they're far more likely to make it to the end of the stage inside the time limit by riding in the gruppetto than if they stopped and then rode the final kilometers alone.

By the way, Chris Horner didn't say that he stopped at a picnic area---he said that, after riding at his limit for Cadel Evans on that infamous Tour stage where Floyd Landis did his (literally) incredible ride (recouping almost all of the time that he'd lost in the previous stage), Chris pulled off the road and had a private picnic with his Snickers and Coke from the team car before getting back on the road and finishing the stage (still well ahead of the gruppetto, no doubt).

[Edit: I see that Horner mentioned in today's Butterfly Effect video that it was indeed a picnic area where he stopped to enjoy his Snickers and Coke. Sorry! I believe he didn't mention that detail in his full-length video about that stage, which he uploaded to YouTube sometime last year. Great, great video, if you haven's seen it.]

(8) chris horner floyd landis tour stage - YouTube
Awesome video! Hadn't seen that one.

Chris is the best. Honestly get a kick out of the thought of him pulling off to the side, throwing back a few candy bars, and still smoking half the field.
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Old 06-07-21, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Chris Horner is a hoot. Usually he was so strong on climbs he could probably afford to bury himself on behalf of the team leader, stop for a few minutes to guzzle and gnaw some sugar, climb back on the bike and still make the cut. Heck, if they've done enough intervals in training, they've conditioned their bodies for this abuse.

If you watch movies of ye olden dayes of the grand tour, it wasn't unusual for the domestiques to stop and raid cafes along the route to stuff as much as they could carry, hustle back to the front to replenish the team leaders, then drop back exhausted and soft pedal just in time to make the cut and do it all again the next day. But that was before restrictions on feed zones, etc.
He really is. His Butterfly Effect videos have become a part of my daily routine. Thoughtful and no BS.
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Old 06-07-21, 10:59 PM
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There are rumors that they take siesta breaks from time to time.

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Old 06-07-21, 11:07 PM
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More like ^piesta^ breaks, amirite?
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Old 06-07-21, 11:46 PM
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Federico Bahamontes, one of the great climbers in the sport, famously took an ice cream break at the top of the Col de Romeyeres(? IIRC) in the 1954 TdF. He claimed he had broken a spoke halfway up so he attacked to gain enough time to get a new wheel without losing time on the peloton (something like 14 minutes back), and while waiting for his team car had an ice cream. Others note that he was a poor descender and preferred to follow a wheel downhill and suspected he was waiting for someone to catch up.
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Old 06-08-21, 07:24 AM
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No, we do not.

Big climbs are where the race is won.
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Old 06-08-21, 09:45 AM
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Old 06-08-21, 02:33 PM
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It might make a difference what the rules were for the race he was talking about. If his job was done for the team and there weren't eliminations due to time. Or he knew he'd still be within that time. Then what's to say some don't when they get in a rare mood.
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Old 06-11-21, 12:35 PM
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reminded me, I had a cycling friend in HS. one time, during a long hill climb, as he was leading, he opted for us to stop so he could take a break & have a cigarette, claiming the nicotine would help him finish the climb. I think taking a rest was beneficial for him, the other stuff, I have no idea
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Old 06-11-21, 07:20 PM
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yes. it's called cracking
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Old 06-12-21, 08:21 AM
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The hills/mountains that pros ride if you stopped you could never get started again.
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Old 06-12-21, 05:48 PM
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Yes they do. It is the plain old pee break. So not to offend the easily offended no body mentions that is what happens.
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Old 06-14-21, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Yes they do. It is the plain old pee break. So not to offend the easily offended no body mentions that is what happens.
Race broadcasts frequently mention riders taking "nature breaks", but this rarely/never happens during a big climb or when the pace is hard. Racers usually target flat sections for this, where it's easy to get back up to speed, there's minimal time loss, and there are few/no spectators around.

As for avoiding offending anyone, I'm sure riders (and sponsors) are thankful that photos of them standing on the side of the road in team kit with their cocks in their hands is a relatively rare thing. I don't think it's unreasonable for camera crews to extend a bit of discretion in this moment.
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