How to make the Tour of Britain breakaway, with Joey Rosskopf

Rosskopf talks through what it takes to make the break in a major stage race like Tour of Britain

3 weeks ago by Tom Owen

US Pro road champion Joey Rosskopf infiltrated the breakaway today on stage 1 of the Tour of Britain, but a little bit of bad luck meant ultimately he didn’t get to give the final his all. 

Post-stage, Rosskopf – who turned 32 years of age today – broke down what it takes to break away.

The stage

Choosing the stage on which to attack is vitally important. Stages that suit a sprinter will probably create breakaways with small time gaps, while parcours with lots of mountains usually see bigger margins.

“Usually, the breakaway has a decent shot after a few days of racing when the GC order is more established, a few teams have already gotten a stage win, and maybe when the finish looks slightly too hard for a simple bunch sprint.”

Today’s opening stage of Britain featured lots of rolling terrain with short, steep climbs, making it a reasonable prospect for a breakaway win. However, with it being stage 1 and the GC still all to play for, that limited the escapees’ options.

This morning Joey pinned on a number for the first time as a 32-year-old.
Making the move

The ferocity of the battle to break free from the peloton is decided by a huge and varied number of race dynamics.

Today, it was a case of staying sharp and being attentive. And adjusting to the tight and winding Cornish roads.

“On a stage like today, it is just about being at the front in the first kilometers of the race. There wasn’t a huge prolonged fight for the break, but you had to be in the first couple lines of the bunch to even have access to clear road in front.”

DS Pat McCarty imparts some advice.
Finessing your effort

Co-operation within the breakaway is key. If one or two riders are sitting in the wheels refusing to share the work, that break is going to either fall apart, or get caught by the peloton.

“I always just try to keep the effort as efficient as possible,” says Rosskopf. “Staying low and aero, not surging, rotating smoothly with the other guys. There’s only so much you can do to force the gap bigger, so after establishing it at the start I like to ease off the pace, let the bunch behind hold us at whatever gap they see fit.”

Today, Rosskopf had kept a little in reserve.

“I like to turn on the gas again in the last hour of racing, just when the peloton starts to up their pace. That’s an ideal scenario, obviously, it depends on how the race is unfolding behind and how much all the breakaway mates have left in the tank.”

When it doesn’t work out

More often than not, the break doesn’t win. Today was one of those days.

“The break was kept on a pretty tight leash, so honestly after a couple hours I knew our fate was sealed. All the same, I still wanted to try to give it one final push with about 30 kilometers remaining – just to see how long I could stay out there.”

Regrettably, Rosskopf never got the chance to empty the tank.

“Unfortunately before we even got to that point I flatted out of the break, so that sped up the inevitable and I returned to the bunch.”

A flat tire ruled Joey out of contention late-on.
Is it worth it?

Rosskopf’s philosophy is that it’s better to buy a ticket to the breakaway lottery than end up wondering what might’ve been.

“Obviously, you can’t always wait for a perfect scenario, and I feel like once you’re in the break there’s always a chance, however small, that things could go the right way for the break to succeed. If there’s some sort of hesitation to chase or if your breakaway mates turn out to be a few big engines, you could find yourself contesting the stage win.”

 

Stage 2 of the Tour of Britain kicks off on Monday at 6 am EDT, with television pictures on GCN+ from 8 am EDT. You can wish Joey a happy birthday on Twitter and Instagram