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TL:dr how do I ride a rolling road race to hurt the peloton and set up someone to win from a breakaway or reduce group sprint?
I am working for a friend in a circuit road race that is lightly rolling hills (think 250ft elevation per lap 3 laps total) if I want to set him up to win the race from a breakaway or a reduced sprint. How do I go about cutting the group down? I am a cat 4 of average ability. I am best at long hard efforts that are typically found in gravel races. Should I just wait in the front as long as possible and just kill myself. Or attempt repeated attempts to break away and have him counter attack me?
Any help or advice is welcome. And thank you in advance.
how to hurt people; attack when it is going to have maximum impact. ie. when people just want to let up, that’s when you attack.
Right after group chases down another attack, over the top of hills, out of bottleneck corners.
How big is the field? Just sitting on the front killing yourself is highly unlikely to do anything useful unless it’s a fairly small race and you have one of the highest thresholds in it. If it’s a decent sized peloton or you’re average fitness for the race, then the draft benefit means the whole field just sits behind you getting an easy ride until either you pop or they attack you. Neither of which helps your friend!
Repeatedly attacking and counter attacking is a better idea. Still depends quite a bit on the size of the peloton, how strong you are relative to everybody else, and whether there are any organised teams racing. E.g. If you attack but don’t have the fitness to back it up and sustain the initial separation, then after the first couple of attempts they’ll figure out you’re not a threat and just ignore you. And of course if you’re taking it in turns to attack there is also the risk that you end up in the break that sticks, not your friend, in which case you haven’t really helped him…
If you’re not one of the stronger guys and/or the peloton is reasonably well organised, then the reality is that there’s not much you can do singlehandedly to put the hurt on them. In which case you either need to build an alliance with some other riders to work together. Or you need to just act as domestique for your friend and keep his legs as fresh as possible for a break or sprint. E.g. Ride in the wind so he doesn’t have to, move him up the peloton when needed, close gaps, if he gets in the break then do what you legally can to disrupt the chase by hitting the front then gradually easing off the power so people have to go round you (easier if you’re in different kit - you said friend and not team mate?), maybe offer other teams some help chasing a break if it looks threatening and he’s not in it, and if you’re both still there at the end give him a leadout in the sprint.
Attack relentlessly. Attack when the pace is high, attack just when the last attack is about to get caught. Go into it with a team tactic rather than trying to set up one of you for the win. If there’s only two of you riding this way, you can’t guarantee that he will be in the attack that sticks. And when it does stick, prepare for it to be hard work in the break. The rider not in the break won’t simply have a free ride, but will need to be really attentive to what’s going on. Other teams will have the same idea. When you attack, commit.