This guide is intended to help people understand how to more easily contest uphill sprints.
First, let’s examine the key stats here. For short climbs, we are mostly talking about Hill and Sprint stats, however, the mountain, resistance, and acceleration attributes do play a role here.
- Hill – This attribute is key for efforts above 100%. I.e. efforts that drain the red energy gauge of the rider. It has the greatest effect on uphill slopes.
- Sprint – Similar to the hill stat, however, its effect is mostly confined to flatter terrain.
Understanding which of these your rider is strong in is key to adapting how you race the final climb. For instance, on climbs like Mur de Bretagne and Cote de la Fosse aux Loups (Landerneau). The first kilometer or so is very steep however the climb flattens off towards the finish. For a rider who is a good hill rider but not particularly fast in a sprint, it’s this first km that is vital for a good result, as you won’t be able to outsprint your opponents at the finish.
Try to escape here or alternatively conserve as much energy so you have more resources in a sprint (even if you are a worse sprinter if your red gauge is full and the sprinter is empty then you can win in that scenario.) Alternatively, riders with good sprint and decent hill stats will be able to hang on over the first km before taking advantage of the lower finishing slope to win. As air resistance begins to play a role and the speed of the group increases, you are able to make more substantial gains in terms of distance between you and the others on the flatter section than on the climb itself. So to simplify, low sprint means using the steep parts to your advantage, lower hill means clinging on to the group on the steep part and using your turn of speed to pass everyone at the finish.
This is where the other attributes can play an important role. The red gel allows you to partially refill the red energy gauge however it can only be consumed at effort levels below 100%, which means during this time the attribute determining your rider’s speed is the mountain stat.
If your rider is a good hill rider but relatively poor on longer climbs (e.g. a hill stat of 80 and a mountain of 65) then you don’t want to take the feed on the steeper part of the climb as this will slow you down more than better opponents. Instead, on a climb like Cote de la Fosse aux Loups it’s better to try and sprint over the steeper section as fast as possible to keep the momentum high, then use the gel after the steepest section so your mountain stat makes less of a difference.
Other Secondary Attributes
You have to bear in mind the other stats that will affect your performance. Riders with a worse acceleration won’t be able to follow attacks and sprints as easily, so this is not to their advantage but rather maintaining a high tempo that others can’t follow. Like a drag sprint of sorts. Stamina and resistance will affect both how large the gauge is before the climb and how quickly it depletes, so weaknesses or strengths in either will affect how long you can sustain the higher effort level. You should also account for the flat stat as if a rider has a very poor flat stat they will likely have spent a lot more energy in the closing km therefore there gauge will be smaller than similar riders with a higher flat stat.
Similar ideas apply to the king of the mountain sprints on each stage. If your rider is weaker, you could attempt to escape before the climb starts or before the others accelerate so as to get a gap and give yourself ground to play with. A good acceleration means you could gap the others and prevent them from using your slipstream. If a climb ends on a lower gradient, you can take advantage of sprint stats, on a steep slope you can take advantage of the hill stat. Finally, if you lack acceleration it is best to follow the others so you have more energy to sprint at the end.
Having a team set a high tempo before a climb, or having a rider look after you has both positives and negatives. A rider can shield you from the wind, however, the AI’s pacing and trajectory are sometimes unpredictable, and they can act in much the same way as Gaviria’s lead-out when he blocked Gaviria putting him into the barriers on stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia.
Finally, I would always recommend instructing teammates to take red gels halfway or a third of the way into a final short climb, as they don’t tend to do this by themselves and it can drastically improve their performance on the stage.