Cycling Breakaway Calculator

Created by Piotr Małek and Mateusz Mucha
Reviewed by Steven Wooding and Jack Bowater
Last updated: Dec 28, 2022
Cycling breakaway calculator estimates the time and distance needed to catch a breakaway in a cycling race.

Cycling races wouldn't be half as exciting without all the breakaways that we get to see and cheer for during every race. Riders get into breakaways for plenty of reasons - to widen the gap between them and their main rivals on the mountain stages, to grab particular jerseys and win classifications, and, most commonly, to win stages and races. When this happens, there is only one question on the minds of everyone watching - will they make it or not?

And this is where mathematics comes in handy. Professor Hendrik Van Maldeghem, of Ghent University, Belgium, came up with an equation that can, with surprising accuracy, predict whether cyclists will make it or not. He tested it during plenty of races, and the results turned out to be very precise very often. The equation, and as a result our calculator, lets you calculate how much distance the peloton needs to catch the group of riders ahead of them. This calculator takes into consideration the following values:

  • Number of riders in the breakaway - number_of_sprinters;
  • Time gap between the breakaway and the peloton - time_gap;
  • Speed of peloton - peloton_speed; and
  • Speed of breakaway - sprinters_speed.

💡 Find how many calories you burn through exercising with our calories burned calculator.

Different equations are used depending on the number of riders. If there are 10 or more cyclists in the breakaway, the equation assumes they get tired at the same pace as the peloton riding at the same speed (this relation has also been tested). The fewer the number of riders in the breakaway, the more important the role of fatigue is and the shorter the distance the peloton needs to cover to catch them. However, the equation doesn't take into consideration factors such as wind or the road's profile, and will be most accurate on flat stages.

🙋 Are you exercising at the proper intensity? Find out with the heart rate zone calculator.

Prof. Van Maldeghem's formula is as follows:

distance_needed = time_gap * peloton_speed * (6 * peloton_speed / (3 * (peloton_speed - sprinters_speed) + √(6 * peloton_speed * time_gap * (10 - number_of_sprinters) + 9 * (peloton_speed - sprinters_speed)²)) - 1)

Time gap is expressed in hours, speed in kilometers per hour.

You can find how many walking steps you saved by cycling using our steps to miles calculator!

Piotr Małek and Mateusz Mucha
Riders in breakaway
Time gap
Breakaway speed
Peloton speed
Distance needed
Check out 11 similar bike calculators
Bike sizePaceSpeed… 8 more
People also viewed…

Body fat

Use the body fat calculator to estimate what percentage of your body weight comprises of body fat.

FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching)

Use the FIP calculator to estimate a pitcher's skills in run prevention.

Humans vs vampires

Vampire apocalypse calculator shows what would happen if vampires were among us using the predator - prey model.

VO2 max

Would you like to find out what your maximal aerobic capacity is? We can help you! The VO2 max calculator provides five different methods of VO2 max estimation. Do not hesitate to check it and see what your maximal oxygen uptake is.
Copyright by Omni Calculator sp. z o.o.
Privacy policy & cookies
main background