Riding as fast as you could for as long as you could was the main tactic in the early days of road racing when Grand Tours could be won by hours. Now a minute's delay thanks to a puncture could ruin a rider's chances over a three-week race and the sport is described as nothing less than chess on wheels. The intricacies and complexities of cycling are what makes it so appealing: an eye for opportunity and a quick mind are just as crucial to success as a 'big engine' or good form.
So how do you win a bike race? How do you cope with crosswinds, cobbles, elbows-out sprints, weaving your way through a teeming peloton? Why are steady nerves one of the best weapons in a rider's arsenal and breakaway artists to be revered? Where do you see the finest showcase of tactical brilliance? Peter Cossins takes us on to the team buses to hear pro cyclists and directeurs sportifs explain their tactics: when it went right, when they got it wrong - from sprinting to summits, from breakaways to bluffing.
Hectic, thrilling, but sometimes impenetrable - watching a bike race can baffle as much as entertain. Full Gas is the essential guide to make sense of all things peloton.
First drawn into the sport while a student in Spain in the mid-1980s, Peter Cossins has been writing about cycling since 1993, contributing principally to Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport and Procycling. The Monuments, his history of cycling's five greatest one-day Classic races, was published in 2014, followed in 2015 by Alpe d'Huez, an appraisal of cycling's greatest climb. He lives in the Ariege in the heart of the French Pyrenees.