If you sign up for a summer class entitled How To Win A Breakaway, Nicki Srenson will be teaching. The Saxo Bank rider chose the 211km stage from Tonnere to Vittel to demonstrate all the required skills to solo to victory.
First, make use of the tactical weapon underneath your helmet and pick the right stage. A long one with enough small climbs to wear down the chase; a stage just before the first dreaded day in the Alps. Make Mark Cavendish and team Columbia realize they’re just too tired to ramp it up for 40km to nail you back.
Second, get in the right breakaway with strong riders like Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Sylvain Calzati (Agritubel), a tour stage winner in 2006. Guys with the experience, talent and ambition to make the break stick, not just 4 small fish hoping for some camera time.
Third, be bold. A shot at a Tour stage win doesn’t happen often. You either cross the line, arms in the air, reveling in glory or play it safe and roll in a minute back, head down, knowing you screwed up a golden opportunity and a fat, new contract. With seven riders in the breakaway, two men saw their chance and didn’t hesitate. With 22 kilometers still to go, Calzati bolted and Sorenson grabbed his wheel. Too far out, too risky? Look who’s on the podium.
Fourth, know when to close the deal. The five guys behind you have stopped messing around and sliced your lead to 10 seconds. You see the red 5k kite and Calzati takes his eyes off the prize for a just a moment. Bang. Sorensen rockets up the road,, quickly building a 30 second advantage. Cue the band, tell Bernard Hinault to get the podium girls out of make-up.
And last but not least, enjoy the moment, soak it in, remember the years of training, the bad crashes, the suffering, disappointments and near misses. The searing pain in your whole body is gone, washed away as you cross the line. Zip the jersey and grin like a fool. This is the one moment in your career as a professional cyclist you will never forget.