There is so much to try and piece together to execute the perfect race. You can be in the right place and doing all the right things, but if the pace shoots up and you aren’t quite strong enough or if you simply miss the break and end up in no man’s land then you have to try and bridge that gap back up. This is probably one of the hardest things to do because you need strength mainly, but also a bit of luck and some technique. But not to worry, you have come to the right place to learn how to bridge a gap!
Having said this, bridging a gap can mean attacking away from the group to get back to the leading pack without dragging everyone else with you and some gaps will be easier to bring back than others; that entirely depends on the strength of the attack, the length, and where. Either way, you need some tips on how to make this easier and spot opportunities to get back in the mix.
Use Other Riders
This could be as simple as just being in the wrong place, getting a corner wrong, having an issue with something on your bike or missing an attack. The chances are that you won’t be alone; the likelihood is that you and a few others may get dropped at the same time, so a top tip here is to wait for them and help them bridge the gap. Work together to bring the bunch back because sharing the workload means you will be able to travel faster overall to get back on. Don’t go solo unless you really think you have the strength to get back on, unless your aim is to leave the rest of the bunch behind of course! This is particularly hard as you will most likely drag the bunch along with you; try to use some techniques to avoid dragging them with you.
This may sound like a strange one, but you may be a really good climber in which case you should use the climbs to make an effort to get back on or split up the group you are with to get back to the leading group. You don’t know what’s happening up the road and they all may be playing chicken with each other. Don’t resign yourself to being dropped if you are a good climber! Few efforts and you may find yourself in a position to get back to the peloton.
Of course this technique can only be used if there are some decent descents on the course. You should always do this safely and stay within your capabilities; at no point should you risk your safety and push yourself over your limits. But, this can be a good way to bridge a gap, especially if you have been dropped up a climb and only lost a few meters or so. Just because you got dropped on the climb it doesn’t mean that this will happen every time. Remember, everyone will start to suffer from any big efforts that they are making time and time again, so use this opportunity to get back to the bunch and stay in the race a little longer!
There is one vital ingredient that will ultimately help this, and that is to practice. Usually, when you get dropped or want to drop other riders it’s because you didn’t have that little extra push in you to stay in the bunch or get away. In reality, however, you may only need to push for 30 seconds and then you are resting again or have simply done enough to make the gap big enough that others can’t come with you. Top tip is to practice this. Specific training sessions like 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off will help to train your body to jump when it is already in the red. Remember it’s not going to be 30 seconds on/off for the whole race so just being able to do this a few times will help you cope with the sudden efforts when you either least expect it or are already in the red.
Take our top tips on board and you’ll be well on your way to bridging that gap!