Monday, April 19, 2010

The successful solo break; winning with grand panache

There are many ways to win bike races; from a high octane lead out train, with a well timed sprint out of group, grinding it out when the weather forces most everyone else into the car, even the dumb luck of the chase group going off route. But the most satisfying and most difficult way to win, is the solo break away. Rarely do these moves work. You are setting yourself up for a spartan like battle. It is you against the rest of the pack, or atleast against a motivated chase group, and they all want to steal your glory. It is a fight of one against a dozen.

But every so often, a racer has the talent, the tenacity, and the luck to pull it off. Some guys just seem to have the legs and the guts for this kind of win. A week ago, Fabian Cancellara reminded me of how beautiful that sort of victory is, twice. Joe Parkin described winning this way as the most beautiful victory. When a racer has so much gap coming to the line that he can sit up and enjoy the moment from 100 meters out, he calls it "no one else in the picture".

Another racer a generation ago had the same knack for hard solo victories at Roubaix and Milan-San Remo, Francesco Moser. Cancellara may be his sucessor in race style. Moser was also a tremendously powerful time trialist and attacking racer. He was fluid on the pedals and a mentally tough racer like Cancellara. I hope Spartacus goes on to win many more classics and breaks the hour record too.

I have never won a race this way, perhaps someday I'll find the courage and the opportunity to pull it off.

P.S. Congratulations SoloBreak on a long awaited solo victory.


  1. Thanks for the shout. Truth be told, this one, and most of my wins, were not true solo breaks so much as end-of-race flyers, aka the oft-maligned "hero move," rarely successful. But hey, it may look foolish sometimes, but if you know you can't win the sprint, you need to try something else.

    I have only one "nobody else in the picture" win, the Manchester RR in 1991, I think. I went on the last climb, probably 10k out, and had 30 seconds or so at the line. Not sure if you were around then, but the course was brutal, eventually morphing into what is now Bow. I think the Manchester course, which extended into Weare, was even more difficult. The following year I came in second, but every time after that I was dropped horribly, which makes the victory that much sweeter in memory.

    The real pros have the composure to zip up the jersey for the finish. Thanks again.