Race Strategy -Where to attack?

Little bit race info
2 laps, 32km each, total 72km. Mostly flat. Head and tail wind.

Where should I attack and breakaway. Tailwind or headwind? What would be your strategy?

Are you riding with a team or solo?

What shape is the course? Hills?

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Riding solo. Not so much hills. Mostly flat

If it’s a loop, I’d be prepared for it to get ugly when there’s crosswinds. Make sure you’re at the front.

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Attack early and often, if it doesn’t stick then sit in and attack closer to the finish.

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What are your strengths as a rider? Do you know anything about the strengths of the competition?

Usually, attacks are a game-time decision. You need to know your strengths and then you gamble on everyone else’s. :slight_smile:

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I think I will attack during second loop into head wind and keep tailwind towards to finish. This way even I kill my ]self, I will have time active recovery time without compromising the speed. Less power, more speed and active recovery. Let’s see if it works

An almost to impossible to answer question without knowing who you are and who you are racing against…

For myself, I’d like to attack about five minutes before a cross or headwind turns into a tailwind. This is because I tend to have a very good five minute effort in me and once you get to the tailwind section it is easier to to maintain the gap.

But…it depends on the race, and so many other things. Assuming you’re roughly as strong as everyone else in the race a good time to attack is when you’re really hurting because so is everyone else and no one will want to chase. Alternatively - attack when another move has just been brought back, the pace usually slows for a second and it’s a good time to go over the top - plus people who were just chasing will be a bit gassed

Edit: Another note - if you’re planning on seriously attacking towards the end of a race - don’t plan it around having recovery time in the pack afterwards. Attack to get away and stay away, if they catch you then you’re screwed for the finish anyway. Better to go all in on your move and get dropped than to go 90% in on your attack and finish DFL in the main group


You can’t really give specific advice about when and where to attack the race, but as mentioned above it’s important to know your limiters. You have 5 matches to burn in a race, make sure you use them wisely. Generally though, attack when the race is hard. People will be less willing to chase. A good time to go is also as soon as a break or attack is brought back. Look at who else is in the field and see who has been getting good results, If you see a good break going, don’t think about it just go.

Make sure you stay near the front of the bunch, especially if there are crosswinds. If your strong and know how to ride in a crosswind you can split the field. It’s not easy, but very effective.

Be prepared to go from the gun. The best breaks I’ve managed to get in this season were either as soon as the flag dropped or during crosswinds.

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It is not really a “place’ so much as the right situation as it depends on what is going on around you. Are there specific people you want to come with you, or who you want to get away from? Then timing will be dictated by where they are in the pack and what their condition is (e.g. have they recently put in a hard effort). Where are your teammates? If you have a team and you are going to go, your chances are dramatically better if you have teammates at the front to block and mess up the chase (or get a free ride up to you then counter attack… On that note, the best 'place” to attack is right after a previous attack has been caught. As for places, the start of a cross wind section is great. But if you are racing against experienced people, the real action will start well before that as everyone is on the same page. So the “attack” might be the effort of getting near the front 5K before for the cross wind starts and staying there. Same with climbs. Great place to attack if you can climb but you need to make sure you are near the front at the start of the climb. A tail wind is not a great place to attack. The goal is to make it as difficult as possible for someone to cross the gap after you establish it. A tail wind makes that too easy. Head wind is better, as is a climb or a cross wind.

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If you are riding solo, your race should start BEFORE the flag drops. Go around & chat up some other solo riders/small teams, see if you can work with them, it’ll make things much easier. You should also do this during the race as things start to develop.

First race I won, I attacked solo for the first half of the race (I was pissed at all the negative/non-racing). After the final catch I pulled off & looked behind me for the first time — half the field was gone. The second half I just sat in & let the group tow me to the line.

My fav all-time race was an 8-corner crit — all the corners on the back half with a wicked tailwind; dead straight front with a wicked headwind. Team (3 riders) decided to attack every single lap on the back, let the pack chase & catch right before the final corner going into the headwind. After an hour the pack was drained from having to do all the chasing & headwind work. Team tactics worked to perfection & won the race.

In bike racing there are just so many different variables, it’s impossible to answer “when to attack”. Even in pro races it sometimes takes 100km of constant attacking before a break sticks.

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Couldn’t agree more, these things are so very hard to predict. But some of the best moves happen when racing is at its hardest. Too many riders attack when everyone is relatively fresh, e.g., at the bottom of a descent, in a tailwind, from a low rolling speed/power output, etc… But attacking into a headwind, immediately after a another attack that just got reeled back in (counterattack) or better still, when it’s just about to get reeled in, or when the speed is already punishingly high - all are way more likely to catch riders licking their wounds rather than licking their chops.


Early and often is not a good approach, especially in the higher cats, and if there are teams you’re wasting your time, as they will just use teammates to bring you back.

Second question: what makes you think you can stay away? And how far do you think you can go from?

All that aside, assuming you can: 50k in I’d start thinking about trying things and the reason for this is because there will be a general softening of the legs by this point. I mean all of this assumes things are still together at that point. So for the first 50 it’s about following moves rather than instigating them.
At the start of the race everyone is going to be capable of following moves, so you’re less likely to get away. After 50k it’s a different story. 50k also gives you a chance to assess who is who and which teams (whether in the same kit or not) are working to pull things back.
Ideally you want to go when your effort causes the most amount of pain, and is least likely to be followed.
Over the top of a rise and onto a flat, right after a previous attack is brought back, around the corner into a head or cross wind. You want to make the chasers work to have to bring you back, and to do that you want to use the terrain and wind to maximize things as best you can.


Lots of good info for race rookie like me. Thanks for that

Time to digest all the replies and load the course into BBS just to get an idea on power. Close to date race I will re-visit BBS to get more accurate weather information.

Thanks again.

Have you raced before?

BBS is going to be all but useless unless you plan to TT off the front. Depending on group size you can sit in the pack and get sucked along doing 45kmh when BBS would tell you it’s 280w.
Pace will be dictated by the group.


I know , I don’t use BBS just for the bunch race analysis. It also gives me overall,race feeling.