More often than not, cyclists competing in the Tour de France ride in a peloton. They do this mainly to conserve their energy by slip-streaming the other riders around them.
However, in all Tour de France races, there will also be a ‘mini’ group of cyclists who will be leading the said peloton above.
Why does this happen? Simple – this mini group of cyclists, also known as breakaway cyclists are not bothered about winning the biggest prize – the Yellow Jersey. What they do want to win instead is to win the stage itself, and in doing so, attract lots of press attention to their teams and sponsors.
Although very unorthodox, this is a strategy by itself (albeit one that favours sponsors more than the cyclists themselves). With the Yellow jersey out of the way for these riders, the only awards the cyclists here can potentially win are the secondary classification competition.
In essence, the definition of a breakaway in cycling race is exactly what the phrase ‘breakaway’ suggests.
Whilst breakaways are extremely fun and exciting to watch, the rate of success of this tactic is extremely low. At the very least, sponsors receive lots of coverage when this happens.
Predictions and Success Odds for Breakaways
As we are all aware of, the breakaways success rates in the Grand Tours are rather appalling. Few succeed in this endeavor, and more often than not, it is by the best sprinters in the race. That said, we can’t help but make a few predictions for who can be successful breakaway riders.
Riders who attempt to breakaway should definitely have extraordinary sprinting abilities. Experience is also imperative in executing these breakaways as cyclists need to gauge and decide when the best time to breakaway is and how much energy can be spent in a particular attempt.
Breakaway Rider Predictions
The following list will be of names of cyclists that satisfy all the requirements for an effective breakaway.
- Peter Sagan
- Demare Arnaud
- Alexander Kristoff
- Dylan Groenewegen
- Michael Matthews
- Andre Greipel
- Marcel Kittel
- Sonny Colcrelli
- Fernando Gaviria
- Greg Van Avermaet
In our opinion, having a supportive team can also be vital in pulling off a world class breakaway.
With team members providing slipstream, more energy can be spared by cyclists and can be put to full use during the sprints in the stages.
The Different Stages of Breakaways
Beginning Stage of the Breakaway
Inevitably, breakaways happen right from the very start of any Tour de France race. In fact, some of the biggest breaks usually happen at the very beginning of a race. As soon as the flag is down, lots of attacking, counter attacking can be witnessed.
Sooner or later, the race settles down a little and two pelotons are formed – the mini and the main. Typically, the ‘mini’ peloton may have anything from five cyclists to as many as 20 cyclists.
This occurrence may have a significant impact on the general classification results itself especially when the mini peloton is way ahead of the main peloton. In the Tour de France 2006, the mini peloton complete the stage almost 30 minutes faster.
Mid Stage of the Breakaway
Once the break has occurred in the beginning and two pelotons have been established, the main peloton will not allow the breakaway riders to get any more than 10 minutes ahead. The funny thing is, the main peloton wouldn’t want to get too close to the cyclists ahead either.
This is to prevent any cyclists from the main peloton to attempt his own breakaway to catch up to the cyclists ahead. That said, we often see many cyclists who missed the initial break give it a go anyway and as previously mentioned these cyclists don’t often succeed.
Late Stage of the Breakaway
Approximately mid-way through the stage, the main peloton will initiate a chase to close the gap between themselves and the group of cyclists ahead.
Their average speed will be increased by around 5%- 10% in order to close the gap.
With the finish in sight, the main peloton will not stop bridging that gap until it does not exist. Often, things get a little chaotic towards the end as sprints happen and breakaways are hunted down.
Whatever said and done, all the different stages of breakaways give live to the Tour de France races.
Different strategies are implemented by different teams using this tactic. For spectators like us, we can’t be more thankful for the existence of breakaways.