Energy is very important. You must try to save maximum energy until the last kilometre of the stage to gain an advantage over the other riders.
Your riders' energy is represented by two gauges:
- the attack gauge indicates energy to attack,
- the energy gauge displays reserves for sustained efforts.
The attack gauge decreases when your rider attacks. Once empty, the rider can no longer attack. To refill the attack gauge, your rider must ride at low speeds or consume a red feed.
The maximum level of the attack gauge decreases depending on the maximum amount of the energy gauge. If the energy gauge is full, the attack gauge can fill to its maximum. If the energy gauge is empty, the maximum level of the attack gauge is reduced by 20%.
The energy gauge decreases when your rider gives a lot of effort. It increases when your rider is at low speed, or by consuming a blue feed. The maximum level of the energy gauge decreases over the stage, as freshness decreases as a result of the kilometres travelled.
If the 2 gauges are empty, the rider shall experience a breakdown, i.e. his effort shall be limited for a few seconds but that will make him lose a lot of time.
Protecting yourself from the wind
The coloured trail that is visible around the speedometer is an indicator of drag. The more that trail is visible, the greater the air resistance to the forward motion of your rider, and the faster he tires. Conversely, if the trail is hardly visible, it means that your rider is well protected and is not impacted by the wind. The stronger the wind, the more important it is to protect your rider, so avoiding that he wastes too much energy, especially in the zones exposed to the wind.
You can also see how much wind your rider is subject to via the airflows at his elbows. If they are visible, your rider is facing a lot of wind and has little to no protection. To increase your protection, ask a team member to come and protect the rider.
In the diagram on the left, the wind comes from the left hand side, and so to take shelter it is necessary that the opponents or teammates place themselves to the left of your rider (in yellow). This diagonal formation is called “fan”. The more headwind there is, the more the fan resembles a vertical line (middle diagram). If the wind comes from the right (right hand diagram), the shape is reversed. Ideally, try to always have at least 5 cyclists between your rider and the wind.
Performing a relay consists of setting the pace at the head of a group for a short time. The rider is thus not protected from the wind and is exhausted more than his opponents who are positioned behind him. The chain of relays allows for the effort to be shared between the riders.
Follow a rider to the head of the group (diagram 1 and 2). When he moves off, it’s time for your rider to set the pace (diagram 3). When you think you have relayed enough, replace your rider behind the others (diagram 4) and follow them until you come back to the lead.
If you are in the peloton, there are situations in which your team should set the pace of the peloton, this is what we call “Bearing the weight of the race.” Your team should set the pace of the peloton when:
- one of your riders is wearing the yellow jersey,
- on a flat stage and your team has one of the best sprinters in the peloton.
If your team does not participate, the breakaways have a greater chance of fighting for victory because the other teams will perform fewer relays.
As a breakaway, you must systematically take relays to “keep the breakaway alive,” otherwise the other riders will take the offensive to get rid of your rider who shall be considered a “racoon”. This may be a strategy to adopt to disorganise a breakaway or force your opponents to attack near the end.
Nonetheless, there are situations in which these rules change:
- if you place a rider in the breakaway, you no longer need to bear the weight of the race (except if you have the yellow jersey and your rider is not the best placed in the general rankings of the breakaway).
- if your rider has broken away and you have the yellow jersey, you do not have to take the relay to avoid your teammates who bear the weight of the race in the platoon having to overcome too significant a gap.
- if a teammate is nearby and close to re-joining your group, you may not take the relay to help his return. Once he has re-joined, however, you should cooperate.
Managing the gap
Managing the gap between the peloton and a breakaway is mainly done on the flat and valley stages, where the group may express itself most easily. In the mountains, it is often difficult to have a team made up of enough efficient climbers to set a pace for the entire duration of a stage. This remains possible, but not easy.
It is necessary to give the instruction “Relay” to several riders so that they may share the effort. In order to not take risks, it is best not to allow more than a minute’s lead per 10 kilometres (“Chapatte” rule, named in homage to the journalist Robert Chapatte, who pronounced this rule, often verified in the course of the race: “So that a breakaway rider may impose himself, he needs at least 1 minute of a lead at 10 kilometres from the finish to succeed in resisting the return of the peloton). For example, at 50km from the finish, the gap should be within 5 minutes to have a chance of catching up with the breakaway on a flat stage. Be careful however, the more riders there are in the breakaway the more difficult it is to catch up with them.
Placing an attack at the right moment is important because an attack consumes a lot of energy and it is preferable to not waste the effort.
To increase the efficiency of the attacks, it is better to gain momentum in advance. The perfect scenario is to accelerate to the head of the group and unleash your attack the moment you arrive alongside the rider in 2nd or 3rd place.
At the start of the stage, if you wish to “take” the early breakaway, it is preferable to follow other riders who attack. On the one hand, staying on their tracks, your rider saves a little bit of energy. On the other hand, if the platoon reacts to this attack, your rider may counter-attack to try and break away. Finally, it is preferable to break away as a group, rather than alone, because this allows for the recovery of more energy, the facilitation of protection against the wind and a higher chance of resisting the return of the peloton. Be careful, though, the peloton very rarely lets large groups go.
At the end of the stage, if you think your rider has enough of a lead on the peloton to resist alone, he may attack to release his teammates in the breakaway. It is thus advisable to observe the profile in order to take advantage of the difficulties to make the difference. If the last kilometres are flat, please note that a lead of more than one minute at 10 kilometres from the finish is needed to have a chance of making a move. If there are difficulties, the lead should be more significant still.
If you wish to attack the lead during a mountain stage, it is preferable that your rider is in the top 10 riders when he is 1km from the summit. At around 600 metres from the summit, start to attack progressively and wait for the last 300 metres before the summit to launch an all-out attack. Of course, attributes in valleys, mountains and acceleration play an important role in getting ahead on the climbing stages.
To succeed in a bunch sprint, the placement of the rider is essential. At 10km from the finish, your sprinter should be in the first positions of the peloton, in the region of 20th place so as to not suffer too much from the wind. At 5km from the finish, your sprinter should be around 10th place. Ideally, he is positioned on the tracks of another very good sprinter and his red gauge is still full. From this point on, it is necessary to try and not lose places and avoid riders who fall behind.
A little before the last kilometre, you may begin your sprint. Do not sprint straight away at the bottom. Try to stay on the tracks of the other sprinters to take advantage of the wind-protection. At around 600m from the line, give all that you have to overtake everyone. The moment to give your all depends on the characteristics of your sprinter and the energy he has left.
Descending a pass
The descent constitutes a dangerous exercise in which the most minor mistake may lead to a fall. When the path is green, your rider may pass without braking. When it is red, it is absolutely necessary to brake, otherwise a fall is inevitable. When it is orange, it is possible to pass but the path of the rider should be perfect. If you are in the peloton and visibility is limited, it is possible to use the Follow mode.
Negotiating the bends requires 3 stages:
- the entry: your rider should brake so that the path in the bend becomes green.
- the turn: if your rider has braked enough upon entering the bend, he only has to take the inside of the bend in freewheel.
- the exit: once your rider has passed the inside of the bend, he may start to pedal again.
Managing a time trial
In order to know how to manage your effort, you should look at the recommended effort indicator. The latter will display the effort to be made depending on the route, in order to produce a good time for the rider being controlled. Please note that this indicator is not displayed in the highest levels of difficulty. You will have to count on your experience of the game.
In time trials by team, the rules of the individual time trial remain important. To achieve a good time, it is essential to know one’s team well and to have the best time trial specialists take longer relays than the weaker riders.
The time of the team is calculated on the 4th rider to pass the finish line. It is important to finish with the leader placed among the first 4.