Video: How a cyclist should attack solo late in a road race to win

Posted on: February 25th, 2018

How a cyclist should attack solo in a road race

There’s only one moment to pick. And when you go for it there’s only one approach worth talking about. This is a text book late attack. Anyone can try this in a race; including you!


How a cyclist should attack solo in a road race


A late solo attack took pro cyclist Michael Valgren of Astana to a strong win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad yesterday.

Few, if any, of us have the legs of these top professional riders. But we can definitely learn from the way Valgren won.

His late attack – indeed, his riding during the key moments of the race – were text book.

There are three clips below that capture the key things he did. The first is his late attack. And the next two clips show the final climbs, and how he rode them.

The first video is set to start to play with just under 3km remaining. A breakaway is clear; with the remainder of the peloton 27 seconds back the road.

Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac) attacks in the breakaway; and he was perhaps the strongest rider in the race.

However, he was chased down after a hard effort. That chase would have taken a lot out of everyone in the group. The riders were racing into a headwind, with the breeze coming slightly from the right.

The key thing to look for in the first first clip is what happens when Vanmarcke realises all of the riders are behind him and he’s not getting away.

He eases off and nobody behind wants to go to the front, because of the headwind. That leads to a stall in the group. And at the very second everyone stalls, Valgren attacks.

He has a decent gap in a few pedal strokes. One of the riders behind makes a half-hearted effort to go after him. But the gap is already sizeable. And into the headwind, closing it would take a very big effort.

When it’s so close to the finish, riders will always be reluctant to empty the tank closing a gap.

He cleverly picked his perfect moment. Valgren then commits completely.

He takes a sneaky look behind to see if he’s getting a gap. And he then focuses on one thing; going as hard as he possibly can.

He doesn’t keep checking behind. Michael Valgren doesn’t hold anything back for a sprint in case he’s caught.

He goes for it all-in. And he knows he’ll either win alone or he’ll be caught and get nowhere.

Another thing of note is where he is in the group when he attacks. He’s near the front, but not on the front.

If he came from too far back, every rider he passes would have a chance to jump on his wheel and sit there sheltered from the breeze.

If he jumped from too far back, he’d also expend a lot of energy even getting to the front of the group; never mind getting clear.

But because he attacks from close to the front, he’s leader on the road and going clear from the very moment he jumps.

In the second and third clips below; Valgren is nowhere to be seen on the late climbs. He is well away from the front and taking shelter.

Other riders attack on the climb and didn’t get away. It means those climbs took far more out of them than Valgren.

He benefited from having two team mates in the breakaway. With two other Astana men there, any of the other riders would have been very reluctant to go to the front and chase Valgren.

Anyone stepping up to chase would fear being attacked by either of his team mates when the catch was made.

But the key thing here is the manner of his attack; he waits for that stall to begin. And then he goes.


Key things to take away

The trick is to go immediately the stall starts. If you wait for even a couple of seconds, other riders will be expecting an attack and will be more likely to try and latch on.

Valgren also attacks close to the finish; with just over 2km remaining. There’s not much point attacking far from the finish; it will be very hard to keep going, especially into a headwind.

Moral of the story; don’t be afraid to have a go on your own close to a finish. Wait for a stall to begin and then go; fast as you can. And once you get any kind of gap, commit fully and don’t start looking back.

Go all-in so you’ll either win or you’ll be caught and have absolutely nothing left for a sprint.

That late-race stall, combined with being brave enough to go all-in, can be your biggest asset in any race. Most of the time being strongest doesn’t mean you win. Picking your moment and committing is usually far more effective.


Valgren solo attack to win


Eventual winner nowhere to be seen in these clips