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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I often see this in the grand tours on the climbs and it never makes sense to me. When all the contenders are in a pack on a climb and the race leader has teammates with him, and someone attacks, what is the point of one of those teammates covering the attack? People always talk about it like the one covering the attack somehow negates it. But it doesn't slow the attacker down at all (except mentally?). And if the attacker only wants time (not stage finish) what does he care that he has a parasite resting up behind him? There are other instances (like when one of the leaders makes a successful attack and his teammates "cover" counter attacks). Again, what difference does "being covered" make to the counter attackers? Usually they are not trying to bridge to the leader, just limit his lead, so who cares if you get there alone or bring some tag along with you?

Thanks for any explanations.
 

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example:

my team's plan in race 'x' is to setup Joe Schmoe our best sprinter. A few guys attack mid way through the race so i jump and cover the attack. I sit in the break and don't do any work. My goal is for the break NOT to go the whole distance. Now if it does, my team is protected because they now have someone with fresh legs that got a free ride to the finish. Or, perhaps my goal is for the break to make it to the finish. I'll pitch in where my teamates behind will be excused from having to do work to bring back the break. Then the rest of the team should be pretty fresh come the end of the race if we are caught.

covering breaks works in many ways.

Look at it this way, you've got 10 teams... 8 of the teams have riders up front in the break away. The two teams will be the only ones willing to pull back the break so long as each represented team is confident in their racer's ability to pull off the win.

stage races add another degree of complexity. The leader (and teams hoping to be the GC winner) will want to mimimize how much time the break is allowed to take that day. Say the best rider is 10min. down from the lead and not a big threat. The GC leader's team might be willing to let the break take a big chunk of that time to make up. Teams wanting the day's stage will be forced to ramp it up toward the end if the expect to set up their sprinter. Many times several sprinter's teams will work together for this.

'covering' a break is a way to lessen the duties of your teamates behind.
 

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When it comes to the favorites, the GC battle, tactics matter very little. It comes down to who can make up time on the uphill finishes, TTs and not lose time due to mistakes anywhere else.

If the guy in second place attacks and the guy in first place can't follow him, he'll lose time. He would accomplish nothing by having a teammate cover the attack, and would be better served having the teammate help pull him back to the attacker.

Fleck did a good job explaining how it works in most one day races.
 

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go for it

If the attacker is only concerned about time (GC?), then why the heck not cover it and get a free tow to the finish, and maybe a stage win? Aside from something on your resume, I think stages are worth something like $12,000. Almost seems a waste not to.

If the stage win is the concern, then by all means have at least one team member in the break. If he sits in, either he may be fresh and take the win, or he'll frustrate the others from his lack of work and spoil the break.

Not that he'll make lots of friends either way...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
More clarification...

The answers I'm getting are more along the lines of "how does a break work" which was not really my question. Though I appreciate the answers none the less.

I was asking about a pretty specific situation that always seems to arise in the grand tours in the group with the leaders. This excludes all sprint days (which I understand). Often times there's also a break with insignificant riders farther up the road and I understand how THAT break works and the desires and motivations for those attacks and counter attacks. But in the leaders group, whenever there's an attack it is the job of the teammate, not the GC man, to cover it. So my question is how does the teammate (who is generally insignificant to the GC) help his GC man by covering the attack? So far the only explanation is the mental dead weight which might be significant.

An example:
A few tours ago, in the black forest lance got isolated without teammates. Every one made a big deal how he had to cover all the attacks himself. So my question is why did he have to cover them himself? If he was willing to let someone go up the road with a teammate on his wheel, why not let them go up the road without a teammate on his wheel? In both cases the REAL race was between lance and the attacker. The teammate covering the attacker seems like an irrelevant step.

I could believe that the teammate is "up the road" to help the GC man bridge up if needed, but that never seems to happen.

I have another example from today but I don't want to spoil so I'll hold off a day or two.
 

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mk_42 said:
An example:
A few tours ago, in the black forest lance got isolated without teammates. Every one made a big deal how he had to cover all the attacks himself. So my question is why did he have to cover them himself? If he was willing to let someone go up the road with a teammate on his wheel, why not let them go up the road without a teammate on his wheel? In both cases the REAL race was between lance and the attacker. The teammate covering the attacker seems like an irrelevant step.

I could believe that the teammate is "up the road" to help the GC man bridge up if needed, but that never seems to happen.

I have another example from today but I don't want to spoil so I'll hold off a day or two.
I didn't see today's stage yet, so I can't comment on that...

I think in those cases, they meant that Lance had to bridge up to the attacks himself, rather than have a teammate slowly (but surely) get Lance back up to the attacker. Remember, it is usually the accelerations that kill those riders, not the speed.

Dude, there are tons of examples of teammates up the road to help... Didn't you watch that whole T-Mob Vino, Kloden, (I forgot the 3rd-- Ulrich or Rodgers?), thing a few years back? The announcers were always talking about (I think) Kloden being the team leader and how Vino/whomever was always up the road to be able to wait and help.

And there was talking of Hincapie in his mountain stage victory WAY before it was obvious that break wasn't going to get caught about Hincapie being further up the road to help Lance in case they got caught.
 

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mk_42 said:
I have another example from today but I don't want to spoil so I'll hold off a day or two.
If you're talking about the Schleks attacking while Sastre was up the road- they were doing that in order to disorganize the chase, allowing Sastre to set his own tempo and put a bigger gap on the group. The other riders would cover their attacks, then they would slow down, then everyone else would slow down because their legs were too tired from the initial surge to make a counter.
 

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CSC perfection

Andrea138 said:
If you're talking about the Schleks attacking while Sastre was up the road- they were doing that in order to disorganize the chase, allowing Sastre to set his own tempo and put a bigger gap on the group. The other riders would cover their attacks, then they would slow down, then everyone else would slow down because their legs were too tired from the initial surge to make a counter.
Yeah, and those little surges by the Schleck brothers were perfectly timed to just up the pace enough to put the rest of the group in the red zone, guaranteeing that when it regrouped there would be a slowing of the front group. I think this tactic was smarter than letting the other riders in the group attempt to make pace and attack as it was much more discouraging to the overall speed of the group. The only negative to the tactic was that the up and down pace allowed Menchov to battle his way back on. Howerver, I still thought it was tactical brilliance by Riis and the Schleck bros. Venga Carlos!

To the OP, the main point of "covering" the danger man's attack with a teammate is to discourage the attacker mentally. It is kind of like saying "We are so strong and so in control". Plus, the ultimate danger scenario exists where rider A goes on the attack and is covered by lesser-light rider X while his teammate rider Y stays in the lead group. Rider A pulls hard with X sitting on, but rider Y is the strongest and he jumps across. Now rider A is &*#*ed, because he can be attacked by X taking Y along until Y goes it alone and makes everyone look stupid.
 

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As stated by other posters, it is enormously helpful to have team mates in a group to cover attacks by setting a steady tempo to reel in attacks by threats on GC.

However, there are also some cases in which an attack can be covered by a rapid acceleration by a team mate this can also lead to a neutralization of the attack. You have to remember that there are many different motivations in the peloton: if your team mate is strong, he has a good chance of winning the stage thereby denying other riders who are hoping for a stage victory. So who ends up chasing down the attack? The riders and teams who are only looking for a stage win.

In addition, if your team mate is high on GC, it can also effectively kill the break. If he sits on and jumps the attacker, perhaps he can gain enough to win on GC. Additionally, riders who are fighting it out for the minor GC placings will also tend to chase down attacks if a team mate that is high on GC covers an attack.

All this assumes that the covering rider is a strong rider. A big no-no is covering an attack that gets a gap and then getting shelled out of it.
 
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