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  1. #1
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    Tour de France peloton Strategy question

    After watching the tour these past few stages I was wondering what the point was of breaking away from the peloton very early in the stage only to be caught by the pounding freight train in the last mile or so. It seems more efficient to stay in the peloton rather then out on your own. What is the theory behind doing this? The last 5 stages it has not paid off to break out.

  2. #2
    AZ
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    In the second or third stage a breakaway did succeed , putting the winner of the stage in the yellow jersey . Risk / reward .

  3. #3
    PeT
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    Quote Originally Posted by n2vxc
    I was wondering what the point was of breaking away from the peloton very early in the stage only to be caught by the pounding freight train in the last mile or so.
    First, roughly 1 in 10 breaks like that don't get caught by the group, so for a mid-level rider that's the best chance for glory. Second, the GC contenders and particularly the team defending the yellow jersey like having a break containing riders who are not a threat to the yellow up the road as that makes other teams with sprinters hoping for a stage win do the work for the peloton. Third, riders in the break are seen on TV throughout the stage and their sponsors get their name mentioned more.

    In mountain stages you'll see non-contenders and even not so good climbers take off early and establish a lead so that when their team leader shows up (e.g. - Armstrong, Contrador, Schleck, Evans) they have someone to help them later in the stage. Postal/Discovery in the days of Armstrong's rein where the masters of this strategy -- Lance was hardly ever "exposed" in a mountain stage because they had sent riders on out ahead to be with him on that penultimate or final climb (and the flats in between).
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  4. #4
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    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Agree with above, but I might add that some team members just get tired playing domestique to the team leader, who more often then not, gets all the glory and magazine covers should the team win. That said, it's a gamble, which if it pays off, then worth the risk; otherwise, you may need to look for another team for the next Tour.

  5. #5
    better ride faster!
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    Very simple theory as to why they continue to try the break:
    It is the Tour de France and a win makes your entire career!
    Falling down is part of LIFE…Getting back up is LIVING…

  6. #6
    local trails rider
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    If the peloton is "taking it easy", some teams may want to stir things up a bit and force the peloton to pick up speed and make the sprinters consume some energy before the last mile....

  7. #7
    PMC
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    There is always the chance the peloton will let it go to far or weather changes enough that they stay away. Usually not but it happens.

    From a team standpoint it's good for the sponsors to get lots of TV time so if a break goes some of the smaller teams will want guys in them every time. If they actually win all the better.

    Other times the break is more strategic and you'll just send someone with to keep an eye on things or have a guy up the road for attacks later. Lots and lots of reasons why it happens.

  8. #8
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    thanks for all the responses, one thing is for sure this year has been very entertaining and competitive.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by n2vxc
    After watching the tour these past few stages I was wondering what the point was of breaking away from the peloton very early in the stage only to be caught by the pounding freight train in the last mile or so. It seems more efficient to stay in the peloton rather then out on your own. What is the theory behind doing this? The last 5 stages it has not paid off to break out.
    There is always a chance. Some years ago the early break finished 30+ minutes ahead of the main group. Put one of the riders in Yellow for ten days while the real GC contenders slowly chipped away his lead.

    Even in stage 3, one rider (Ryder H) from the early break was there at the finish to contest for the win. He would not have been if he had just sat in the group.

    The breaks also give the team sponsors lots of TV time. Very important in pro racing.
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  10. #10
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    Do a little research and read up on the 1986 Tour, when LeMond won as 1st American to do so; lot's of juicey stuff regarding the treachery between team mates, the psychology behind the strategies used by each of these guys, and the ultimate betrayal, all for the overall win.

  11. #11
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    In addition to the above, there are intermediate points awarded along the way, at the tops of big climbs for instance, that enable a rider to gain points in the king of the mountains classification. So breaking away early gives riders a chance to win these points, even if the chances of winning the stage are slim.

  12. #12
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    And, in addition to the reasons above, if you go on a break away you have only a small chance of success -- but if you don't go on a break away you have no chance at all.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all the input. Im still kinda new to the tour, not really a roadie more a die hard mountain rider but I can really appreciate the athletes and the sport so im still learning about the race. One more quick question, What determines the starting position of the next stage? does the finish position of previous stage determine the starting point of the next?

  14. #14
    better ride faster!
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    I don't believe the peloton has a starting position. However, the 4 leaders (each category) will often ride in front of the peloton (ceremoniously) through whatever town they are starting in while following the race officals car. Then as they leave the town maybe 1 or 2k the official will wave the start flag from the vehicle, at which time the power teams will work their way to the front and as they say "its on"
    Last edited by 2ridealot; 07-09-2010 at 07:47 AM.
    Falling down is part of LIFE…Getting back up is LIVING…

  15. #15
    i also unicycle
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    it's called a neutral roll out. it gets everyone on the road moving for a few minutes so people can sort out there they want to ride in the group without it being a frantic start to get clipped in and moving along.
    mtbr says you should know: i work in a bike shop.
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  16. #16
    Retro on Steroids
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    Reasons above, and one more.

    I accompanied the 7/Eleven team to the 1985 Giro. The coach explained to me that towns along the way provide "sprint points" and these are worth money as well as green jersey points. If there were no such incentive, the entire peleton would ride together on flat stages and sprint for the finish, but this is terrible showbiz. With money to be made by lesser riders who won't win $ any other way, they take off and make a few Euros in addition to the pittance they get paid, and the towns get to see some riders actually contesting something with 100 miles left to go in the stage. With lesser riders up the road, the peleton has to roll along rather than loaf, lest the escapees make it stand up.
    It don't mean a feng if it ain't got that
    shui.

  17. #17
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    very cool repack!!!!!

  18. #18
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    Publicity for your sponsors.

    It is extremely unlikely breaks in the early stages are going to escape. The sprinter teams never allow them to get too far away.

    But when you break away, especially when you do not have a GC contender or a stage winner on your team, you get lots of publicity for your sponsors, the source of your team existence and your paycheck.

  19. #19
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    domestique, I hated that expression. Reminds me of the current Beyatch.

    Glad yo hear you are enjoying it. Cycling is an incredibly complex and strategic team sport. It's a fine balance between personal goals and team goals (though sometimes it's more I than team). As if pacing yourself wasn't bad enough, you need to think about the team as well (or at least occasionally, as Repack hinted)

    Because there are prizes and points to be had it's a very bizarre team sport. The other team may beat you, but only your team mates will stab you in the back. Formula 1 is like that as well. Come to think of it any team sport with wheels is like that.
    Life is too short to race through it. When life is a blur, you'll miss the magic.

  20. #20
    It's about showing up.
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    Since when do mountain bikers

    know so much about this roadie stuff?

    Hoo-da-thunk?


  21. #21
    Life on a Sandbar
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    Since many of us were roadies before there was such a thing as "mountain biking."

  22. #22
    local trails rider
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    Since when did a mountain biker know anything about those silly games where big guys, wearing shorts, run around with a ball ...

  23. #23
    It's about showing up.
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    Maybe you guys haven't been around long enough

    to remember when road stuff wasn't talked about here. Perhaps that was before the Big Bang when MTBR changed formats.
    Just razzin' you guys.

  24. #24
    Retro on Steroids
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    Here's another reason for riders to break out early.

    In today's stage, by joining an early breakaway, the KOM points leader added to his lead. Taking that jersey home is worth $.
    It don't mean a feng if it ain't got that
    shui.

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