Freeman Cebu Sports

The Art of Breakaways

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

A breakaway is one of the most beautiful aspect of the sport of cycling. It demands a lot of verve, courage, stamina, psychological fortitude and the craziness to it all over again if it fails.

There are two types of breakaways- breakaways during multi-day races (eg Tour de France) and in one day races.  Breakaways in the TdF are easier (for a lack of a better word), in fact, some riders make a living out of it. Riders deliberately lose a huge amount of time so that when they go, the leaders know that they can’t affect the overall standings anymore. Laurent Jalabert was an expert in that later in his career.

In these events, sprinters normally don’t go on a break, these athletes are cuddled by their teammates and then unleashed in the last 200 meters. Same thing with climbers, their team work to keep their leader safe and at the front of the race and deliver them to the last climb in a perfect position.

However, the degree of difficulty in getting away in a one day race is multiplied since its win-and-go-home event. Thats why I find it more compelling.

In a one day race, there are three ways you can breakaway. One, if the peloton is inattentive and you escaped. Two, if the peloton underestimates your strength and believes that you can’t go all the way and number three, you’re just too strong for them to keep under leash.

There are plenty of examples in the first case. A lot of nobody’s have made a name for themselves for other rider’s inattentiveness. John Vansummeren is the latest. At 6ft6in and 168lbs, he was supposed to be working for teammate Thor Hushovd and that’s why he  was asked to go early in the hopes that later in the race he would be able to help later in the race. But crashes and untimely punctures put Hushovd and the favourites behind. WIth 15ks to go, Vansummeren got away from his three companions and luckily won by 19sec over Fabian Cancellara, who caught his companions and won the sprint for second.

Jackie Durand was rider who once said that, “I’d rather finish shattered and last having attacked a hundred times than finish 25th without having tried”. He attacked from a long distance to win the French national jersey. But he became famous when he went away with 217km to go in the 1992 Tour of Flanders. So famous that when he was stopped by a Belgian cop for over-speeding (after he retired), the cop recognised him as the Flanders winner and let him go.

The final way to win in a breakaway is by brute force. In the 2010 Paris-Roubaix, Fabian Cancellara outmuscled a group that contained the who’s who in Paris-Roubaix Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd, Filoppo Pozatto, and the total power of the chasers could not simply overhaul the power that Cancellara had that day. Or that week. He also demolished Boonen a week earlier in Flanders.

The move was so powerful that it created a lot of conspiracy theories that  Cancellara was “motor dopoing” meaning, his bike was allegedly equipped with a hidden motor!

So, if you want to win solo, any of these three tricks will do. Execute it!

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