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  • “Road racing imitates life, the way it would be without the corruptive influence of civilization. When you see an enemy lying on the ground, what’s your first reaction? To help him to his feet. In road racing, you kick him to death.”
    HaHa! – terrific quote.. is it Krabbe or CT?

    • That’s Krabbe. I highly recommend reading his book multiple times. So true on so many levels

    • ed

      yeah i was in a race one day in a breakaway. one of the others asked how far to the finish line – i told him about 5km and to keep driving hard as we were about to get caught. the finish was about 1 km away and whilst this guy buried himself he set me up nicely for the win. no gifts as the badger would say.

  • jules

    it’s amazing how you can launch an attack (say in a crit early on the last lap) and someone will bury themselves chasing you down for the bunch. i’m pretty sure in my grade they’re not doing it for team reasons, they just feel obliged while caught on the front of the bunch.

  • Giffsa

    Great summary for newbs like me, thank WW.

  • nickalas

    Spent all crit season training for the road season, and broke my elbow on my last training ride before baw baw. FML

  • Anth73

    Great tips Wade!  As someone still very new to racing it’s still an artform that I have a lot to learn about. All the best physical conditioning counts for naught if you’re unable to read the race, and that’s where the more experienced guys really excel. Thankfully I have a very helpful group of experienced racers showing me the ropes.

    • Thanks Anth73. 

      Anyone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I find it amazing that nearly every other sport has a development program for all levels but cycling has very little in the way of teaching people the basics of strategy and rules. It’s not until you hit the higher levels where this stuff is informally passed down.

      • Anth73

        When I joined my racing club I paid my membership, signed up for my first race and off I went all bright eyed and bushy tailed but without the foggiest idea of what was going on. I was racing with my good mate Kiwi Kev and he took me under his wing, gave me a few tips and – most importantly – his wheel to follow!

        The club has now introduced a more formal induction process with membership numbers growing strongly and they should be applauded for it as it makes everyone’s racing safer and more enjoyable.

      • jules

        when i started racing back in 1990 or so, there was not even any internet to check race times/locations. the (large) club i was with had no official means of circulating basic info on events, grumpy officials who’d been doing it for 50 years and grudgingly put up with the competitors, let alone detail such as educating juniors. i stopped for a long time and only started again recently, and i laugh to myself with joy at how much more organised it is now, with online info, entries, etc. but cycling has a long way to go before it is as organised as other sports, such as AFL, with its junior programs, etc.

  • Slhaydon

    my only strength is my honesty that i have no strengths. Still turn up to the races just to get dropped most times. i think i need a sports psychologist. Being a brit, my attitude is that its the taking part that counts.

    • MtthwMeatball

       Strength comes with time. Measure your heart rate, avoid training groups that think training is a race,  and keep trying. Recovery is the most important training that I see most riders forget.  The majority of your training should be between 50% and 60% you max heartrate. Find a climb that runs about 8 km without too many steep parts…just a good even climb and try and keep your heart rate at about 60% while pushing the heaviest gear you can maintaining a 50-60 cadence. The ratio 50/60 cadence Heartrate 60%. That is power endurance training. Do that 1-2 times a week. On the Following day do normal training with 100 cadence and add a few intervals of 75 seconds. You begin them at pushing while constantly getting faster so that at the 65 seconds you can still punch it for a 10 sec. sprint. 20 minutes recovery between intervals. 30 min warm up and at least 20 cool down. 4-5 intervals is ideal.  3 day blocks. Day 1 normal ride avg. heart rate 60%. Day 2 Power endurance. Day 3. Normal ride with intervals and recovery. Do this 6 months and do it right, you wont drop off again.

  • Ben

    Any chance you could do something similar Wade on the ins and outs of handicap racing seeing  lot of racing takes on that format here.  

    • Neil Robinson

      Work turns until you’ve caught all the bunches in front and are sure no bunch from behind will catch you. Unless you fancy yourself in sprint against the scratch riders.

      Then treat it like the race Wade just described.

    • sam

      Catch the bunches in front, don’t let the bunches behind catch you, and don’t blow your group apart. That’s about it isn’t it?

    • Yeah, don’t blow the your group apart. Sadly I’ve seen many a group
      chances of winning ruin by one or two inexperience riders or more
      experience riders who can’t keep egos in check doing just that. Also
      don’t be scare to sit on and recover when need to do. This may anger some
      members of group, but I think better for the weakest rider in a group to
      be doing the occasional turn, than blowing up, getting drop and then
      contribute nothing to the group’s workload. Also be careful not blow yourself up in
      the first 20 minutes or so. Groups usually go hell for leather at the
      start of race before settling back to more sustainable pace.

    • Robert Merkel

      One important skill for handicaps is figuring out what to do when you’re going to get caught. 

      If it’s still some way from the finish, slaughtering yourself in a futile effort to stay in front is pointless.  They *will* catch you, and when they catch you they will spit you out again real quick.

      Instead, your goal should be to latch on to the back of the group as they go past.  If you’ve got a choice, try and make sure this happens on a flat or downhill section rather than a climb.

      If you do manage to hang on, you’ve then got to figure out whether you will roll turns with your new bunch.

      • Tim

        You sit there and do bugger all, and wait.

        That’s assuming you do get caught.

        • Obvious

          Sit there and wait ? My guess is that you have never won a handicap and you will not improve as a racer.

  • Great tips and worthwhile clicking on the links for more info on previous attacking & crosswinds articles.

    It may sound like ‘Racing 101’, but I think knowing the course profile is also worth noting. Being aware of your strengths & weaknesses and knowing the climbs, descents or corners can help in planning tactics (if possible) and being aware of what is ahead of you during the race, and equally with training. A recon of the course can also help in knowing where there may be wind protection etc.

  • Anonymous

    You’ve to work out your own gap to the breakaway! What, no race radios? :-)

  • Reader

    Why doesnt the RSS feeed work anymore from Cyclingtips??

    • Sorry about that. I’ve been trying to troubleshoot that for a month now and I cannot find what is causing the error. I’ve hired someone to look into it now. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

      • Tricky Dicky

        As CT concedes, things seem to be different in masters racing where virtually no breakaway group is allowed to get up the road. Damn frustrating for those of us who don’t want to sit in and just be part of a group sprint.

        • MtthwMeatball

           Make friends, dont ride at the front, and alternatively counter with your buddies. Sooner or later you will break their will. I rode as a 43 year old in 4 A grade races and placed all in the top 10 on my short vacation in Sydney. Next year when Im there Ill race Masters and show them what pain is all about. Making attacks count and luring 4-5 strong riders with you can break any peleton. There are also others who think like you…its just about getting them to go on the move….communication works wonders. Here in Germany breakaways go all the time in Masters…not even mentioning they ride here as fast and hard as A grade.

    • It should be fixed now. Let me know if you still can’t see the RSS feed

      • Reader

         It Works! Its Alive!!

        Great job!

  • Postbox

    I’ve seen it happen many times, but why do the Masters racers chase everything down within seconds of seeing a gap the size of a bike length forming?

    • Anth73

      Got to admit the few scratch races I’ve competed in have usually seen any attempted break shutdown pretty quickly. A few times I’ve decided not to chase and others have followed my lead have seen the attempted break fail, but it’s the exception from my limited experience.

    • Justind

      Because as soon as riders start to get stronger and see some success they get pushed up a grade so the status quo in all but A grade remains

      Big fan of one of Wade’s previous posts which put forward the benefits of the US styled system whih strengthens each grade by retaining riders past a few race wins

      • MtthwMeatball

         In Germany the system goes. 1 Win or 5 top 10 placements in races over 60 km is automatically a climb in Grade. I personally think the grade system in AU stinks. d, e grade? Whats the point? We have 3. ABC. You start in C and either get placements and move up or stay C. This stops the ones who dont like moving up from suckering the placements of lower grades. My point? If you can ride A, do it.

  • Those wily old foxes, is it all part of the plan, no one wants to spoil a good party?

  • Great stuff here! I loved The Rider, and after reading this, I think I’ll go read it again. Unfortunately in my women’s races, there aren’t enough riders for a giant peloton, but I’ve still seen a lot of these tactics put into play.
    – Ashley

  • Tim


    If Nick Youngs gets up the road, kiss the race goodbye. Think of Jens Voigt crossed with Chuck Norris. Some sort of breakaway hard man.

    Like the Dead Kennedys “Give me a breakaway or give me death”

  • A guy launched off the front this morning in the commuter cup. It was great watching him blow up halfway into work. Even better passing him singing the song on my iPod.  :)   

    • jules

      apparently the thing to do is start chatting to him as he struggles for breath :)

  • Guest

    “Always attack as late as you can, but before the others do.” – Tim Krabbe, The Rider
    I love that line, if only I could implement it ……..

  • Notso Swift

    I am Despuech

  • The plate-licking quote is attributed to Gerrie Knetemann by Krabbé, in the Rider.

  • FortheLove

    There are only one set of “rules” that every cyclist should abide by, and they are found here:



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