Coaching: 6 practical tips to avoid getting dropped on the bike

Posted on: January 24th, 2019

Matteo Cigala avoid getting dropped bike

For many of us, hills force us out the back of the group – training, racing or in sportives – along with line-outs, crosswinds and sheer speed. But there are ways to cope and hang in (Photo: Stephen Kelleghan,



Even the best cyclists in the world get dropped. But that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re on your bike and doing backwards from the group.

Riding smart and having your homework done really can be the difference between hanging in all the way, or not.


By Matteo Cigala

1 Do less work on the front of the bunch

This is the number 1 rule. It is a fact that the more work you do the less energy you have later in the crucial moment of the race.

By being on the front, you consume approximately 30% more of your energy compared to the riders on your wheel.

So the more you are in the draft of the group, the more energy you save.

By being in the draft of those ahead of you; I’m not advising sitting far back in the bunch. It is important to be vigilant and stay in the first section towards the front of the group.

It’s also important to beat in mind when I advise doing less work at the front, I don’t mean do no work at all.

But if you need to work on the front keep your turn short, quick and be smart.


2 Have your bike ready and serviced

Sometimes we get dropped because of mechanical issue with our bike. Most of the time it happens because we didn’t take enough care of our equipment.

It’s therefore important that bike and components are always in good working order: wheels, spokes, hubs, chain, cassette, chain rings, breaks, tyres, gears, shifters, Di2 battery and so on. Check everything.

Have your bike serviced by your local bike shop every few months. It’s important and can avoid suffering mechanicals and getting dropped as a result.


3 Avoid making useless moves

Use your energy only when it is required instead of showing off to your mates.

Chase only those who you think can be dangerous and having a chance of winning or making the podium.

There is no point in chasing down a one-man break especially when you know that rider can’t stay away alone.


4 Study the route of the race

Know what’s coming because when you expect it you can plan for it.

By having an understanding of the critical parts/moments of the race you can get crucial things right such as positioning in the right place.

And if you know where the hardest parts of the course are, for example, you can avoid wasting energy, which you need to keep for the business end of the event.

By studying the route you can plan a strategy to suit your strengths and minimise your weaknesses.

For example, if you are not a good climber but you are a good descender and you know that there is a climb coming up; you can minimise that weakness by placing yourself at the front at the start of the climb.

By doing that you can ride at your own pace; one that lets you drift back in the group but remain in it. And then you can try and get back towards the front on the descent.


5 Pedal efficient within the group

While you are in the bunch you can save lots of energy by pedalling efficiently and by moving up or down the group in a smart way.

By pedalling efficiently I mean using a cadence that is suitable and allows you to save your legs. I find 90rpm can be a good and efficient cadence for most people.

Sometimes riders get dropped because they did not pedal efficiently during the race.

Often they simply climb with the wrong gears – whether it’s too low or too high – and they’re unable to hold the pace.

You can also move up and down the group in a smart way to save lots of energy.

Staying in the draft of riders that move up the group is a good way of making your way to the front. You should this instead of sprinting up the side towards the front.

And by knowing the wind direction you can move up the bunch more comfortably by making sure you do so while sheltered.


6 Training with a structure

Sometimes, getting dropped is a matter of a poor structure in your training.

A structure and a programme suitable to your needs can result in a massive improvement in your performance.

By doing the correct training you can overcome those weaknesses that make you get dropped. And you’ll be better prepared, physically and mentally, to race and compete.