How long and how hard should you pull in a paceline or breakaway?
To determine that I recommend following these simple rules.
1️⃣ First, pulling in a paceline break away is not to be used as an offensive move. It is not to hurt or drop other riders. Instead, pulling is about giving an effort that enables the group as a whole to go faster using less energy.
2️⃣ Pay attention to the terrain. Take longer and easier pulls on the climbs, while on the downhills take shorter, more intense pulls. This lets the others in the group have an easier ride, and more likely to be able to help with their share of the work.
3️⃣ Pay attention to the wind. Look for flags and listen to the sound of your wheels. If you can hear strongly the sound of your wheels it’s a tailwind/crosswind, if you cannot that means it’s a headwind. For headwind take longer, steady pulls with a higher intensity. For tailwind and or crosswind, take short and lower intensity pulls.
4️⃣ Pay attention to your competition. One of the reasons we are taking a conservative approach to pulling is to be ready for your competition to try and drop you. They are most likely to try (and succeed) on climbs and in tail/cross winds. In both these places, with you riding conservatively you are not only keeping your group moving along consistently, but you are also ready to react to anything that is thrown at you.
We coach people, like you, to help them improve their cycling. These concepts here which I learned by winning and failing in stages of Grand Tours can help you become a better cyclist at your level. Let’s go!