Tour Breakaway Protocol Tactics

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Okay, I’m sitting up in Northern Wisconsin watching the Tour, drinking tea, and the two breakaway guys are just about ready to be caught.  I don’t understand why the majority of the time, the guys in the break, which is obviously going to be caught, start attacking each other. For some inexplicable reason, they seem to think it is important to be the last man standing.

There is a big difference from what happened yesterday with GvA dropping TdG for the stage win and yellow jersey.  But when these guys are attacking each other , for what seems to be for TV time or bragging rights, it seems ridiculous.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a break, with one other guy, or a few others, and attack them just because.   For some reason it seems like standard procedure nowadays on the made-for-TV bike racing.

Even Alex Howes, who is riding his first Tour de France, and made an instant statement about his aggressiveness, attacked his breakaway companion, Anthony Delaplace, on stage one, just before they were about to be caught.  This is after they had been away together for virtually the whole day.  I just don’t have the nerve for that, plus I don’t understand the reasoning.

Maybe someone can come up with some plausible reason other than just showing off for TV?

Alex and Anthony, when they were buddies early.

Alex and Anthony, when they were buddies early.

Tucker is either on or off up here.

Tucker is either on or off up here.






21 thoughts on “Tour Breakaway Protocol Tactics

  1. Jon

    They’re probably looking for the most aggressive rider award, which carries a cash prize and special race number

    1. Jason

      ^This. I thought this was pretty obvious and the announcers almost always explicitly explain it is to get the most aggressive rider money and accolades.

      1. Steve Tilford Post author

        Jason – I’ve heard the accolades for the stupid attacks. And if the “jury” of the Tour decides to give the most combative rider for senseless attacking, then they need to redefine their criteria for that award.

  2. numbnuts

    fully agree, waste of energy and time. For they will succumb to the tomb of the masses. Smart riders sit back, watch, gauge the field, plan a tactic near the end of the race to take the lead. I suspect this is all about creating excitement for the race… esp if attacks are done early on in the race.

    When I did road, I noticed the winners mostly always held back to the end. Hiding in the crowd and carefully planning their strategy. Measuring every move of every rider in the race. Then, near the last 10km or so (depending on the length of the race) they would slowly move up without anyone noticing. The young inexperienced riders would burn out early, the ambitious pompous riders would burn out near the end attacking. The wise and mildly flavored riders would creep out of no place to take the win. Humble and humility counts, that comes through scars and bruises and losses… wisdom is key.

    1. numbnuts

      all about strategy, tactics, and preserving that big ball of energy near the end with carefulness. Thus, skill is required and perseverance with patience… with wisdom comes patience.

    1. mark

      Exactly. These are Pros (Pro Tour riders in a Pro Tour race more specifically). Not club racers in a local crit. If the DS says attack now and make it look good ’cause we need TV sponsor time, then they just do it, and are not concerned about the club racers armchair analysis of it later.

      1. Steve Tilford Post author

        mark-Exactly. “Pros” racing like robots trying to get TV exposure and not trying participate in the sport. “Armchair clubs racers”, as you call us, are the spectators watching the television coverage. When the tactics are obviously stupid to us (and are now starting to be called out by their peers), then the sport is less appealing to the masses, thus less TV and less sponsorship.

  3. pat west

    If I had the chance to be in a break, the the TOUR DE FRANCE, I would do anything to stay in the limelight. Even if it’s just for 10-20 more seconds. Some of us don’t have a closet full of awards, and will never see the front of a race like you have. Why get bothered by someone flexing their muscles at the front for a group, or a TV audience of millions,just before getting sucked back into the anonymous peloton? What’s you next blog going to be, analysis of the logic of touchdown dances?

  4. Levi

    Remember the mountain bike race where you blatantly followed the quad, ham and egging it, with the camera on it, only to shut it down when the quad pulled away? That was where maybe 150 people might watch on YouTube and that was because YOU posted it here. Multiply that little egorection by about 4 million…..

    Hello Pot, Kettle here…..

  5. John

    I’m sure it could be all for TV…..but, Im not a pro, I have been in a lot of races that the peloton is just about to catch the break and someone attacks out of it to stay out for a little longer, then someone else bridges the gap from the field and they stay away. This is just a Cat 1/2 race but Im sure there is a chance for it to happen. Its not totally likely in the tour because of all of the organization of the field but they mess up every now and then.

  6. Dog

    Well you do get to hear/see some poor schmucks name and picture. Often I have never heard of the guys in the break, but they get their “Hey Mom” minute on TV for the world to see. Pointless but proud I guess.

    1. AKBen

      You do realize, I hope, that pro cycling is built around an advertising model, and the more time a team has someone out front, the more advertising their sponsors get? Frequently those guys are from teams that either have nobody for the sprint and/or nobody for the GC, so better to get some time being noticed for the sponsor than just be anonymous pack fodder.

      1. Mike Rodose

        This exactly why riders take “flyers”.

        Enjoy the action and extra commentary it produces!

  7. numbnuts

    I just read “Steve captured the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships Master title, in Mont. Ste. Anne, Quebec, in 1998, becoming the first American to do so. He repeated that feat, winning the 2000 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships Master in Bromont, Canada, by 5 minutes over second place”

    do you know bill hurley from canada? he was racing around that time…
    and, Mike Bennet?

  8. Here we go again

    I liked the way it used to be when two break aways were about to be swept up by the peloton and they’d reach over, shake hands then drift back t together and be swallowed up. It exuded class.


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