The EB or “early break” is the first breakaway of the day to go at or near the start of the stage. It is a credible option for teams (and riders) without a big time sprinter. It is also a good chance for smaller teams to get their sponsors TV time. This year just about all of these have gone as soon as the stage proper has started.
What is required to make/survive the EB?
- Firstly you need to get in it! Sounds simple, but not so. Often at the start several riders and teams try to form the breakaway to survive.
- A breakaway consisting of riders who are not a threat overall is a good start as overall contenders in a break will be chased down.
- A move with a mix of teams is also handy as a team will not chase down their own riders as a rule, so the more teams represented in the move, the less teams likely to chase.
- An initial sprint out of the pack and some high intensity for several minutes is required to snap the elastic to the bunch and escape.
- Once free and it looks like the break is likely to stick, a settling in to some solid, but aerobic work is required.
- riders at this level are likely averaging around 4-4.5w/kg (280-330w depending on rider and input) for long breakaways
- this effort falls into sub lactate threshold (and sub FTP) and around 2-3mmol of lactate level (L2-L3 in the Fitlab zones)
- Lapping or taking turns or bit and bit (for the English) is the next thing to consider. It goes without saying that you want everyone to work, but how exactly:
- continuous chain or long pulls (I will discuss these more in the Stage 9 post), but generally long pulls of 30s or so are better during the bulk of the ride, but shorter pulls may be a better choice when the pace is on (e.g. when the break is forming or in the final few kms to avoid capture)
- break formation: fast to get the gap
- bulk of the ride: consistent solid aerobic work (keeping a little in reserve for the final kms)
- final 20km or so: 99% commitment to survive with a tiny reserve for how you might win
So whatever the reason to go up the road, it is always an honest day’s work. Whether it’s for sprint/mountain points or the outside chance at taking a stage, these guys are grabing the race by the horns and giving it a crack. Long live the EB.
Video highlights and live coverage links